Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blog Against Sexism

Today is International Women’s Day and Vegankid is hosting a . I never really thought or felt sexism until I was older. One of the jokes I have about my Mom is if I had told her wanted be a prostitute she would have said, "Well, you go out there and you become the best crack whore that you can be." I always just assumed that I would do my own thing and if it were good enough, it would kick anyone’s ass. And, frankly. . . I did. Wait. I have. Wait. I do. I kick ass. The only time I have stumbled has been due to my own insecurity. No, I haven't won a Pulitzer or an Oscar or a VP position, but I've done okay in the last 35 years. I’ve had moments of male sexism that I have had to deal with like any one does but half the time it just makes me laugh. There were little moments when I was young. In high school a male friend said, (referring to the size of my breasts) “Someday you are going to make your husband very happy.” While, yes, okay the size of my knockers does make my husband happy, it was I now know, not the most appropriate thing to hear. I’ve been propositioned on the street and on public transportation, which has been excellent fodder for anecdotes at parties. One of the few times sexism has truly shocked me was when I was 23. My father had left my mother a few months before and I was meeting him for dinner at the TGIF in Las Vegas on Tropicana Ave. He was wearing a black silk shirt and these terribly garish wild print MC Hammer pants. He can be forgiven for this fashion disaster even in circa 1993 because he was going through his mid-life drama. Forgiven, but my sisters and I, evil bitches that we are, mocked him unmercifully behind his back. Somewhere in the conversation that evening, he said something along the lines of, "A man just wants his woman to shut the fuck up and support him." This is a paraphrase. I suspect what he actually said was worse, but I honestly don't remember. I also can't remember exactly what sparked his comment. I might have been saying something that pissed him off because he knew I was running circles around him. I suspect I was playing with him on purpose. Okay. Fine. I am certain of it. I may even have been smoking a cigarette and subtextually flaunting that he couldn't do anything to stop me. All I do remember is that he had tried to one up me in a number of conversations for a few years at that point. We'd gotten into one stupid conversation where he had confused Ben Jonson (No. Not the sprinter. Thank you for playing.) with Jonathan Swift and kept arguing with me when I knew he was terribly wrong. (Yes, I was an English Major and smug and obnoxious with my new found ability to kick my parents around the block when it came to any subject. I needed to be beaten.) I think he knew the moment that my sisters and I realized that he was a sham. The moment that we saw the man behind the curtain and that pissed him off. The moment that he wasn’t a Daddy-God but just a man. He didn't know that we would have been happy with him just being a man. Wasn't smart enough to know how to be just himself. I haven't spoken to my father in over twelve years. I started avoiding him at first because of the comments he made during that terrible dinner and it made me uncomfortable how hard he was trying to be "cool". It was like he was Dudley Moore in Foul Play. We slipped apart and after a stupid argument where I can't remember who hung up on who (although I think it was me), we haven't spoken since. -Yes, these are cliff notes, but it isn't important enough to be to air all of the dirty laundry. The writer in me feels sorry for him. He was angry. He was leaving a bad marriage. His daughters didn't enable him any longer. His rejection is understandable. The daughter in me used to be very angry that I had so little value. That he could so easily say, fuck her. I have gotten over it. I could pretend that I haven't and write something Steven Spielbergish that pulls your heartstrings. Cue violins and all that shit, but I am over it and that would be lame. It must be said that my sisters haven't gotten over his rejection. After he and I had my falling out he eventually fell out with both of them and recently they have each reached out to him, only to be rejected again. While both of my sisters are certifiable, I felt terrible that they experienced this additional abandonment. Were they brave, weak or stupid for reaching out? I haven’t contacted him. Does that make me brave, weak or stupid? For me, I decided a long time ago that just because someone raised me and provided my genetic makeup doesn't mean they get to be a part of my life if they are a class A ass-wipe. My father was the son of career navy man who was an even longer career alcoholic. He was the son of a woman who made you feel social status, how well you played gin and how small your ass was offered more value to the community than your character. I don't believe that this is how my Nana honestly feels, but often it appears that way. He chose to not to pull himself out of that vortex. What does this have to do with sexism? This is all a long way to say that I think a lot of misogynism steams from men that are so wildly insecure that they lash out. They are angry. Women are an easy target. So easy, that a father will cut his own daughters to pieces if it makes him feel better. I am lucky that I am with a man that values my intelligence and doesn't need him to enable him-- he just needs my love, which I am happy to provide. Well, it's not that I am lucky. There is just no way in HELL I would be with a man that thought my XX status would be open season for attacking my character and intelligence. My mother has been married to a wonderful man, my stepfather Gary for ten years now- or is it eleven? I've lost count. He loves her and has put up with more drama from my crazy family than anyone ought to be subjected. He spent hours and hours and thousands of dollars preparing his house for Stuart and I for our wedding and was so pleased to be part of our celebration. He is more my father than my real father ever was. It used to upset Stuart that I called Gary my stepfather rather than my father until he realized that the word "father" to me means asshole. My father is now remarried and I hope that he is happy. I am also pleased that he is out of my life. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" in 1792. It depresses me beyond words that there is a need for a "Blog Against Sexism" over three hundred years later. We have come a long way baby. But we've got a long way more. I don't know what the answer is. I suspect it has something to do with every little girl knowing that she could kick anyone’s ass. If she wanted to.


At 3/09/2006 09:28:00 PM, Anonymous Cecily said...

what is it about fathers & daughters? so much of this post is similar to my experience with my father & so many friends' experiences as well. it's especially interesting to me now as my bf has a 5 year old daughter. he is quite close with her, but you can already see how his relationships with women are shaping his interactions with her. that's exactly what happened with me & my father: we were super close until i hit puberty & as long as i wasn't behaving as daddy's little girl he was done.

i'm glad that you chose to highlight this relationship in the context of sexism. most people miss the fact that our fathers play a large role in how we first apprehend relations between the sexes.


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