Thursday, March 3, 2016

Women's Work

"All Lives Matter" is a highly insidious retort to "Black Lives Matter," because it's really just code for "Hey black people, why don't you shut up about your problems? We all have problems. We're all humans and we all matter."

While that might be true, the fact remains that because of their race, black people have serious societal deficits white people don't have, and because of their gender, women have societal deficits men don't have. It's not a value judgment or an attack on white men. It's just the world we live in. Pretending those disparities don't exist anymore, or that they're inconsequential because they're no longer always officially state-sanctioned is like pretending the earth is flat: You can get into a Twitter battle with Neil deGrasse Tyson about it, but that doesn't make you right. 

Which is why I make it my business to support the women in my life however I can. 

Women criticize each other's bodies. They compete with each other for romantic partners and jobs. They compete with each other as mothers and wives. They harass and judge each other in hateful ways online and in person. They do all sorts of other self-destructive things to each other. Things that aid and abet a sort of intra-gender cannibalization that ultimately frays the fabric of what is many women's common aim: To be treated on equal footing and accorded the same expectations and benefits as men; especially professionally, sexually, and domestically.

Have I ever done any of the above things? Of course I have. I've probably done all of them. I'm a woman.

But each day I try to counteract that impulse and make amends by doing something positive for another woman in my life, be it a friend, a colleague, or a stranger from blog-land: Encourage her to apply for a promotion. Tell her to stand up for herself, assert herself, or advocate for herself (because no one else will). Support her in getting out of a bad relationship. Share her excitement in getting into a good one. And even go with her to get a cute haircut or a new pair of shoes so she can go out at night with friends; because it's okay to want all of that for ourselves and expect and demand personal safety--not necessarily to "look good" for someone else or invite a crime.

It's not always easy and I don't always do the job right, but to me, this is true women's work.

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