Thursday, January 22, 2009
WE STILL TASTE THE SWILL
We swim in it daily in our homes, our work and from the media.
While nothing should be considered any worse than the buying and selling of human beings, fairness dictates that we look at the status of ALL women who were brought to this country.
Not just the ones in chains, as were the slaves, but those bound just as tightly by the religious rawhide that classified all women as a possession, by father, husband, son or any male relative.
Not many years ago, women, no matter their color, were chattel. They were not citizens, they were not allowed to gain employment of their own choosing, they could not own property, they were forced to marry the man chosen by their male relatives. They were banished with no means of support unless they agreed to remain as an unpaid, family servant for life.
A few privileged women were allowed some rudimentary education but most were punished if they tried to access it on their own. Her husband could banish her from her home on a whim and take her children from her. The home and the children she bore belonged to her husband. Marital rape and beatings were commonplace and considered to be a husband's right.
It took immense courage and many years for a few fantastic women to change this. The changes came slowly and only after great effort and sacrifice. We saw a great surge in the 60’s and 70’s, after that, women just coasted believing the fight was won.
Not all women, of course. There were many that still suffered from the great gap in pay for equal work or the restrictions on the type of position a woman might aspire to. But the grassroots burned out as the Woman’s Movement moved itself loftily above the common woman and devoted itself to feminizing everything back into the same old mold society was more comfortable with.
Our youth looked for other inequities to champion against and many found the treatment of African Americans one cause they had to support. It was in this same spirit that many women of the present day devoted themselves to helping a black man become president.
But many more women and supportive men saw that real change and progress was in a woman, Hillary Clinton, whose qualifications towered above a Johnny-come-lately, Barack Obama, who had no ties to the Civil Rights Movement; whose family had never known slavery.
When these women and men listened to Obama’s inauguration address they heard the emphasis on founding fathers and MLK as if no woman ever existed along that trail of history – only men. No Sojourner Truth, no Harriet Tubman, no Rosa Parks, no Corretta Scott King was even alluded to or acknowledged for their part in the Civil Rights Movement.
He called for everyone to pitch in and work for his better America and we remembered his gestures and misogyny during the Primary campaign. We women heard him call for sacrifices in Medicaid and Social Security that would grossly affect the old and the ill – the majority of these being women. Since women are paid less than men over their working life, their retirement packages are smaller and they depend on Social Security benefits.
The media still raves about one sentence of POTUS’ Address. We paraphrase it for a more relevant, realistic twist:
Women “have tasted the bitter swill” of misogyny and sexism. We swim in it daily in our homes, our work and from the media. It does not abate; it grows stronger and comes continuously from many sources unrestricted by the very government officials that should be condemning it.