Friday, September 2, 2016

It's in the air we breathe

I wear the label proudly. The "Feminist" label surrounded by flowers in the shape of a heart, pink background - ordered for me by my daughter, who manages to be fierce and vulnerable all at once - is affixed to my laptop for all to see.

Actually, that is a lie. It is affixed just beneath the keyboard so it is mostly covered because you see I am old and can't deal with the shit; I'm not nearly as brave as my daughter who wears her giant fighting heart on her sleeve, or more precisely across every spare inch of her laptop case, on the outside for all to see.

I wear the label proudly and then sometimes, for a moment, I am not sure if I have the soundbite ready to fire off if asked "well, then, why are you a feminist?" I think the reason for this is because it is in the fucking air we breathe. Misogyny that is.

In 2016 we have the Most Dangerous Man to ever run for President of the United States of America filling our screens with the sort of hate and fear mongering that makes comparisons to Nazi Germany not feel like a stretch running against the Most Qualified Candidate to ever run for President.

The fact that the Most Qualified Candidate happens to be a woman means she is the subject of the sort of scrutiny and barbs and daily questions as to her "likability" that a male candidate (even one as heinous as Trump) has never been subjected to by a media that does not comprehend (care) that the question itself is rooted in a sexism that is hard to see because it is in the air we breathe.

It is everywhere: it is the pay gap; it is the critical eye we cast daily over our own female bodies; the catcalls and harassment along with the condescending demand from corporations (hello Dove) that we celebrate our own beauty rather than demand that we put beauty in its place; it is the dismissal and invisibility of women as they age and/or fail to adhere to a stunningly narrow ideal of beauty; it is a feminism that deems caring work as wasted potential rather than demand that caring work be recognized, celebrated, supported and rewarded; it is the "he was a dedicated family man and all round great bloke" narrative that seems to emerge after each and every 'family' murder-suicide committed by a "loving" husband/father; it is the "why didn't she leave?" while governments cut welfare benefits to single parents and defund shelters for women and children; it is considering books about boys and men as having universal appeal and books about girls and women as a niche market; it is the veneration of motherhood minus the provision of paid parental leave; it is the speed at which men who enter female dominated professions rise to the top and the "Mathilda Effect" whereby women in male dominated professions are judged by a tougher standard than their male counterparts; it is pads and tampons being taxed as if they are a luxury and girls in developing countries being denied an education when they have their period due to the failure to provide adequate toilet facilities; it is the use of the female body to sell every consumable imaginable while the use of a breast to do the work for which it was designed, providing nourishment and comfort to new human beings, is considered obscene if done in public without cover . . .

Sexism and misogyny are so common, so unremarkable, that it is not so hard to forget that it is there, always there, not just in front of us but behind and underneath and even inside those of us who wear our feminist label proudly; and it is exhausting to keep noticing because then our days will be spent in a state of rage that all too often morphs into despair.

It is hard to see because it is is in the air we breathe.