The war against women is real.
It’s not just that we’re taxed for tampons while bald men regrow hair tax-free — or that we make less money for the same work — or that we’re barbarically mutilated to keep us “chaste” — or that we encounter body, fat, slut and age shaming on the daily — or that we get blamed for our own sexual assaults — or that we are denigrated and harassed in the streets, in our places of work, even in our own homes — or that one of the highest compliments you can pay the proud father of a baby girl is that he’s going to have a hard time keeping boys away when she grows up, as if her becoming a sexually active adult woman is a bad thing — or being a working mother means we can have it all if we also do the shopping, the cleaning, put the kids to bed and do the dishes.
It’s all of it.
But the worst thing about the war on women is that women are fighting on both sides; women actively perpetuate stereotypes and gender discrimination against women.
If you are a married working mother who complains that you have to do the lion’s share of parenting and housework and work full-time, you’re part of the problem. You whine about unfairness when you should insist on equality. If you have ever made fun of another woman because she was fat, or ugly, or didn’t do her hair, makeup, wear heels or a bra, you’re part of the problem, too. By the same token, if you’ve judged a woman because her skirt was too short, her top too tight, her pants too revealing, her makeup too thick, her hair too dyed, you’re also to blame. You mock and mistreat when you should protect and defend.
Too many women are the Uncle Toms of our gender.
This morning, I saw a photo on social media of a woman un-ironically cheesing beside a sign that said, “Donald Trump: the candidate with balls.”
Seems innocuous, maybe even a little bit funny, right?
Now imagine a black person posing next to a sign that says, “Hillary Clinton: the right race to win the race.” Or a Muslim next to a sign that says, “John Rutherford: his god’s the better god.”
Why is it that the latter are so clearly offensive and inappropriate while the reaction to the former is at best a shrug? They’re all basically the same.
We don’t get riled up over a woman posing next to a sign that essentially says she’s not equal to a man because a lot of women still believe that it’s true. Women believe the fallacy that being born with a labia and a uterus equates to being less competent, intelligent and correct.
Yes, on average men are by far the more flagrant misogynists. They’re largely the ones mutilating, harassing, discriminating, exploiting and stuffing dollars into young girls’ thongs the world over. But they wouldn’t get away with it if we didn’t let them. But when we, like the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan, tear down another woman, such as then-nominee, now Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, because she’s “dowdy” and seldom wears lipstick, we’re fighting gender equality. When we hold other women to different standards than we’d hold a man, we’re pushing the movement backward. You don’t have to stop wearing makeup or give up on mastering the fine art of cooking the perfect coq au vin; you just have to allow your sisters the freedom to wear, cook, clean and behave as they wish without passing judgment.
We need to stop seeing each other as the enemy and holding each other down. We need to start standing up for each other and, if we have to, fight back together. We’re more than half of the population, ladies. Think of what we could accomplish if we worked together instead of ripping each other apart.
Yes, many of us have been victims, we’ve been traumatized and abused, we’ve been coerced and cultured and indoctrinated into believing that we’re inferior to men. It is understandable that we’re still learning to believe in our equality. After all, it wasn’t so many years ago that all women in this country couldn’t vote (1920), couldn’t sue for gender discrimination (1964), couldn’t have our husbands arrested for raping us (1993), couldn’t serve in certain combat positions in the military (2016).
We’ve come a long way, but there’s much work to be done to achieve equality. We’ll accomplish a lot more — and faster — if we stop allowing ourselves to perpetuate the problem and instead become part of the solution.