Discrimination is so deeply imbedded in U.S. Culture few of us notice from one day to the next. Even those of us who are experiencing it. Maybe we notice the headlines that blare at us when so many young Black men in a row are killed by police officers and their communities erupt in impotent rage. But we don’t notice when things go back to ‘normal’ and nothing has changed. How police are trained in the police academy is never changed. The culture of violence and racism and sexism and homophobia just digs in deeper and the powers that be wink at each other. The parents wonder why no one can make their kids safe.
Most examples of ‘nothing ever changes’ are less tragic but again reflect the depth of our cultural’s moral bankruptcy. Here’s a trivial example: the film, Ida, is about a young woman in 1960s Poland who’s about to become a nun when she discovers she’s actually Jewish. It’s a delightfully rich film which won the Oscar for best foreign film over the media favourite, Leviathan, a male-centric, Russian entry.
But having won the top prize Ida is nowhere to be found in the movie theatres. The loser, Leviathan, about men battling corruption in Russia, found distribution and was re-released into theatres. And as Oscar nominated films start to be released on DVD we see American Sniper and Leviathan. But Ida? Still waiting
Another example: A year after hundreds of Nigerian girls were kidnapped by Muslim extremists some have been released but 200 are still missing. Where is the ongoing coverage of that terrorist act? And the horror continues since we can assume that even the girls released have been sexually assaulted in a culture which will not be supportive of their healing.
The list of evidence of the devaluation of women is endless: rape statistics continue to be scathingly high world wide. The casual dismissal of the intelligence and abilities of girls and women is so deeply ingrained even women sometimes collaborate against themselves (think Baby Beauty Pageants!). Male government officials feel it’s okay to hold public hearings about women’s rights over their own bodies without hearing from women. When Republicans want to fill the VP slot with a woman, they don’t pick a smart, experienced conservative; instead they go for a woman without any demonstrable talent except for making empty-headed statements and charming men. Violence abounds on television but the only show I’ve seen with a warning about “disturbing” material appears before Call the Midwife, a show about delivering babies.
And the list could go on.
When I graduated from journalism school in the 1970s I applied for an editing job on the night desk of a New York television station. I’d already worked for two news operations so I sent my resume in with a light heart. When I called to follow up after not hearing back (in those old days employers used to respond to all job applicants) the editor on the news desk said, “We don’t hire women for the night desk.”
Today he wouldn’t have said it right out like that. Now there’s always some other subtle way to diminish and dismiss women that doesn’t leave a company open to a lawsuit. Still many companies insist on using a double standard leaving women earning only 78% of what men earn.
Why am I ranting? Over the years I’ve heard women proclaim the uselessness of feminism. Some thought we’d arrived at equality, what was the problem? Some thought women needed men more than men needed us so it was all a trade off. Other’s thought women’s issues weren’t as important as all the other bad things happening in the world.
The good news is that type of attitude still infuriates me and pushes me to action, to donating to women’s organisations and to ranting! I want to hear more of us expressing our anger and not settling into our comforts
I shouldn’t be so sensitive but a good rant can be a surprise and a reminder for the women who read blogs hoping for recipes or star gossip or stories about sexual exploits or hair tips. A good rant in concert with others can provide the energy for change…if we could just remember women still need change and talk about it out loud!