All Women Are Created Equal

15 Oct

My daughter turned me into a feminist.

The North Shore Invitational Taekwondo Tournament circa 2010. My son and daughter, young adults, each competed in black belt breaking competition. Men’s and women’s divisions of course. Robb sets up his routine, and you can see it in the eyes of the black belt guys who will be holding boards and who are watching as they wait to compete: this is going to be good.

Tricia sets up her routine and you can see it in the eyes of the black belt guys who will be holding boards: she’s going to try this? Yeah, right.

I might have read them wrong, but I’d been reading such reactions and interactions, including my own, within Taekwondo for two decades by then. I’d heard the after-talk of board-holders, competitors and judges regarding ambitious routines of both males and females for nearly as long. I know the way Taekwondo guys “talk in the locker room” about such matters. That’s within the context of an art-sport that I see as very open to, equal for, girls and women in regards to opportunity, challenge, accomplishment, empowerment, respect. It’s a fantastic endeavor for girls and women, even if it’s still largely a guy’s sport.

So, it wasn’t that event per se, but . . . my daughter turned me into a feminist.

She, a second-degree black belt who favors breaking competition. She, whose expansive and dense closet of female attire could be used as the launching point for a James Rollins adventure. She, who left mom and dad at home to attend college in Washington, DC. She, who at 22 years old worked with focus and frenzy to successfully convince a Harvard graduate school to accept her and then choose not to attend. She, who went from an all-female-staffed institute focusing on women’s concerns to a hard-driving, political-campaign-mentality workplace of virtually all men older than she. She, who is an admirable combination of snips and snails, sugar and spice.

She, who has over the course of her college studies, and across her work career throughout college and since, has come to take up the charge regarding women’s status and rights. With all she has had going for her, why would she ever worry about women’s rights? She’s pretty much done what she’s wanted. She pursues stuff and gets there. She applies and gets picked. She influences and impresses males and females alike.   As a young woman, she’s done quite OK for herself in a man’s world.

In a man’s world.

And that is why she has taken up the women’s charge, and she’s gained me as a recruit.

Is it a man’s world? Laws were passed. Things should be OK now. But those laws getting passed are the problem. Or, more accurately, a sign of the problem.

The problem is that for women to get the equal rights they enjoy, which men already had to begin with, it required passing laws. Men always had those rights, naturally, per society’s conventions. Women needed laws, largely in my generation, and . . . still people fought against the passage of those laws. Not exactly a full welcoming into equality in society. Do we really now expect there to automatically be full, equal access and, perhaps most importantly, better regard for women?

Let’s check the running equality score (in years).
Men: 3,000+ (aka since the beginning of time)
Women: 52  (being generous, going back to the civil rights act of 1964)

3,000 to 52. Quite a blowout. Do we really expect the underdog to all of a sudden be playing in the big game?

Fifty-two years since the 1964 civil rights act which, as a law, required (aka forced) societal institutions (aka men) to regard women as equal (or at least not discriminate against women) in matters of employment. Not exactly an equality carte blanc.

A man’s world. Articles and training on workplace communication explain to women how they need to communicate in order to be successful. Pretty much that instruction boils down to this: talk and act like a man. Women are hens and they are supposed to strut like roosters to be taken seriously and to have a chance of being accepted or respected. The irony is that when I professionally look at workplaces in the context of leadership development the problem with most workplaces regarding psychological safety, respect, understanding and team engagement are exactly those very cock behaviors. Workplaces that — dare I say it — operate in a more womanly manner are oftentimes better workplaces. It’s not quite that simple, but that’s a pretty good pointer.

But, it’s a man’s world; those workplace expectations are perpetuated by men. Hey, it’s been our club forever, so if little ‘ol missies are going to join it then they need to follow our rules. Three-thousand-plus to fifty-two, baby! We win! We rule! We dominate!

1976: The first marital rape law passes in Nebraska, making it illegal for a husband to rape his wife. I haven’t researched that any further, nor the situation in other states, but I’ll bet you a shiny, new Susan B. Anthony dollar that there was some debate over that one. Think about it: it’s recently been OK for a married man to claim — force — his “right” to satisfaction. Life, liberty and the pursuit of — or force of — happiness.

Yep, I’m a feminist, and also an independent voter, here in 2016, which, incidentally, isn’t even 100 years since women were allowed (aka granted by men — Man’s World!) the right to vote in the United States. I supported Jesse Ventura for Governor of Minnesota and Dean Barclay for Senate and was part of the Ron Paul rEVOLution.

So what?

So, I initially, cautiously saw Donald Trump as a possible breath of fresh air in a very stale political arena. Now, I feel that the winds have changed and what I thought might be fresh air nauseatingly reeks of old, rotting attitudes and behaviors, attitudes and behaviors that severely demean people I respect and value, and who happen to make up about fifty-percent of the man’s world. It’s a stench we’ve been trying to get out of our collective U.S. house since say, oh, 1776, and just when the air seemed to be clearing up a bit further, a disagreeable odor started coming out again, like the smell of a rodent rotting in the wall. I wonder how The Donald truly feels about marital rape? His words certainly don’t engender any confidence in me thinking he might hold a decent opinion.

I am well aware of the plethora of “Oh yeah? What abouts” that these thoughts might arouse. I understand “all that is at stake.” I’ve been following the reports and interactions in mainstream, niche and social media. My intent is not to be right, or prove anything, or to debate. I simply want to say that . . . not as as a feminist . . . but simply as a father . . . and a husband . . . and a friend of a great variety of many women whom I well respect . . . and as a bit of a Taekwondo-ist-warrior-type . . . that Donald Trump fails, among other assessments, my Punch Test in regard to his regard for women.

What’s my punch test? It’s this: If the things he has said about women were said in my presence about either my wife or daughter, I would want to punch him in the mouth. Maybe three times. It doesn’t really matter if my wife or daughter were actually old, or fat, not attractive, or friendly in a way that someone like Donald Trump might see as inviting, or even if they weren’t his first choice (go Google it), as if any of that should matter.

But I won’t be punching Donald Trump in the mouth. That wouldn’t be right for me. Neither would be punching my ballot for him on November 8. The independent voter in me has some thinking to do over the next two weeks. But, I do leave with this thought: in light of the disappointing mess of public attitudes that have been revealed and opinions that have been expressed (or not expressed) regarding Donald Trump and his overall “women’s affairs,” maybe it won’t be so bad for the country if, despite anything else that happens, maybe eight years from now a new generation of girls and boys will have only ever known a woman as president of the United States of America, and maybe that won’t be so bad, and maybe that will help accelerate us to the point of being not so readily able to say, “It’s a man’s world.”

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