I wanted to talk today about something that I’m working on in 2018. I’m trying to be a better ally
If you want to be a better ally, then the first step is to understand your privileges. I’m a straight, Christian woman who is physically and (mostly) mentally healthy. I’m capable of learning and able to work.
One privilege that I have that doesn’t get talked about much is my gender. I’m a woman, and that means that I’m treated differently than a man.
In order to be a better ally, I want to talk about female privilege today.
There’s no denying that being a woman is easy. I’m in tech support, and there are some people who make my job harder because I’m a woman. I do, sometimes, have to spend some time convincing people I know what I’m talking about before they’ll let me help them. And that freaking sucks. I despise that every time a company wants to make something more appealing to women or girls, they make it pink.
But I don’t really want to start off a post talking about abuses against men talking about how much it sucks to be a woman. Because we all know that it’s hard to be a woman. We get it. We, as women are being told every day how men are out to get us. Women, think about this. We’re taught to carry our keys between our fingers so we can defend ourselves. We carry pepper spray (in pink containers). We’re taught to always be on our guard, and not go walking at night because men will hurt us given half a chance.
But will they? Actually, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, men are overall more likely to be victims of violent crimes. Here’s a link. So why are we teaching our daughters that they’re in more danger than our sons? At very least, shouldn’t we be teaching our sons to protect themselves just the same?
We don’t really want to talk about violence against men, though. We want to talk about violence against women. We want to protect women and teach them to support each other. We tell men over and over that hitting women is bad, as though they need to be told that. But we don’t really have that same sort of response to violence against men. Think about how many jokes there are about men being hit in the gentiles. We’ve all seen it, the classic eye crossing pained face. It’s hilarious, right? Is it that hilarious if a woman was to be kicked in the gentiles? Hell, it doesn’t even seem to matter when the man in question is in real danger. Lorena Bobbett was a huge running joke after cutting off her husband’s gentiles. Tiger Wood’s wife was nearly a hero when she tried to beat him with a golf club. And to anyone who’s going to tell me that those men cheated, I don’t give a damn. Would you applaud a man who cut off his wife’s breast or tried to smash her head in with a golf club? What if she cheated on him? Is it better now?
Now, I want to talk about something that’s plagued me for a good part of my life. Choosing to be a working mom hasn’t always been easy. There’s a lot of guilt that goes along with it. Mostly inflicted by other women. But there’s a large part of our society that applauds me for being a working mamma. Look at me, going to work to bring home the bacon for my family. I’m not letting some man have financial power over me.
Instead, I’m letting some man have domestic power over me. My husband’s the homemaker in our family. He’s responsible for homeschooling our girls, making dinner, keeping us to our budget, taking the kids to doctors appointments, performing upkeep on our house and doing most of our major shopping. While I do a good amount of the everyday housework, he does the major things. Like shampooing the carpet in our whole house, bless him.
Now let me tell you how many times my husband has had to call me from the doctor’s office so that I could tell the doctor that he had my authorization to see my kid. Let me tell you how many times the schools have asked to talk to me, and didn’t seem to believe my husband when he said that he would be the one handling these things. Oh, or the apartment that we didn’t get to rent because the elderly couple renting it didn’t like that my husband didn’t work. Or the people who ask him what he does, then ask him why he doesn’t work.
Now, full disclosure, my husband does have health concerns. But that’s not why he’s the homemaker. He’s the homemaker because he’s better at it, and I’m better at making money. I started working young and built a portfolio of experience. He became a daddy and that became his focus. We’re both well suited to what we do. And we should both get the same respect as any other breadwinner or homemaker.
Now, on to something more serious. Women’s lives are more valued than men. And let me prove it to you. Women are not permitted to be GI soldiers because America can’t handle seeing women come home in body bags. Women are given preferential treatment in emergency situations. Not pregnant women, just women. Cancers that impact women are given more grant money and attention. We know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I’ve personally known two women with breast cancer. One made it and one didn’t, so don’t think this isn’t serious to me. But testicular cancer is also horrible. My husband’s grandfather died of it.
As another example, men don’t have the same protections as women. Male domestic violence victims can’t go to a shelter in the way women can. Male rape victims are treated as a joke. Even when a male student is abused by a female teacher, it’s laughed off. I think we all know what happens to a male teacher who abuses a female student. He gets nailed to the wall, and he damn well should. But so should a female teacher who abuses a male student.
Men also don’t have the same rights to their children as women. In fact, women, for the most part, get to choose how involved a father is going to be in the lives of their children.
Setting the discussion of abortion aside, because I could go on for a long time about the complexity of that situation, let’s take a look at parenthood. A woman can decide to defer her parental rights in most states. She can say that she’s brought this child into the world, and now she’d like to have someone else care for them.
I’m not hating on women who give their children up for adoption. Part of being a parent is giving your child the best chance to have a good life. To decide that your child’s life would be better without you is a heartbreaking, loving, selfless decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly or judged by anyone. It’s also one that men don’t have the option for.
On the flip side, a man has limited ability to fight for their parental rights if the mother of their child decides that they don’t want them to be a part of their lives. Courts favor the mother in almost every custody case unless something pretty bad is going on.
Finally, women are more trusted than men. Recently, we’ve seen many heartbreaking examples of this. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Hundreds of allegations have come forward about respected men in the entertainment industry. Some politicians have been accused as well. While no actual legal action has been taken against these men, many have lost their jobs without any actual investigations.
I’m not saying that they’re all innocent, or that they’re all guilty. I’m saying that maybe before someone loses everything they’ve ever worked for, maybe there should be some sort of proof. Maybe there should be an investigation. Because if a person, man or woman, really did abuse or harass another person, man or woman, they should be held accountable by the law. Just like when someone commits any other sort of crime. And yes, I realize that it can be hard to prove abuse. But we can’t have our society’s default be she said it, so he did it. Now he has to lose everything and apologize. Because really, anyone can say anything. I could say that Hank Azaria molested me. I’ve never actually met him, but are you really accusing me of lying? Why would I lie about something like that? It’s not like he’s a well known and respected actor and I’m a barely known writer still trying to make a name for myself. (No disrespect meant, Mr. Azaria. You’re a wonderful actor who’s given me hours of happiness with The Simpsons, Bird Cage, and Ray Donovan. Keep doing what you’re doing, Man.)
If you don’t agree with me, please share what you think. I’m open-minded, so please give me facts to prove that I’m wrong. We’re never going to get better if we can’t have discussions and disagreements.
But to my fellow women, I’m asking you to check your privilege and take the challenge to be a better ally. We’re upset because we’re not respected and we should be. But they’re upset because they’re literally dying and losing their children.