I work with a woman, we'll call her Helen*, who is intelligent, humorous, stylish, sporty, and very pretty. She is passionate about issues she cares about, kind and generous to her friends, and has (so far) led a very interesting life with many fascinating experiences. She is also single, and on my side of 30. So, what do you think people ask Helen most about? If you said will she ever climb Mount Everest to benefit Russian orphans, while modeling the latest in winter gear -- you would be wrong.
Take yesterday, for example. A former co-worker came into the office and was making the rounds trying to convince everyone he is better off in his new job. Why he would be visiting his old job if that is actually the case isn't important. What is important is that he came up to Helen, asked her how she had been and, before she could get one word out said "I still keep waiting to hear some lucky guy has snatched you up." Helen just smiled, shaking her head, and I started sharpening a pen into a shiv. He unabashedly continued: "I just don't think men know what they're missing when they pass on you."
Pass on? Snatch up? I'm sorry, I thought Helen was a person, not a topping at a salad bar. I mean, as if it wasn't bad enough this person was prying into her personal life, he was also being condescending about it. AND, he thought he was being friendly and charming!
I really felt sorry for his wife at that moment.
Today marks ninety years since women were given the right to vote in the United States. Ninety years since women got their foot in the door of equality, and really began to push it open. Yet, almost a century later, we still have jerks who assume that women aren't happy until they are married, and assume they can comment on it in front of anyone they want. That makes me madder than the fact I still make 30 percent less than men doing equal work. Well, maybe not madder, but as mad.
I know that there are women who say they capitalize on sexism, or get off on it, or are trying to reclaim the feminine role for themselves. However, how can we reclaim a role that still isn't fully ours? Male dominated culture still controls the majority of images presented to girls and women of what girls and women should be. To know I'm right, all I have to do is look at movies. What was the last film you saw where the female star didn't have some sort of love interest, or wasn't a castrating bitch? Even the estrogen fest "Eat, Pray, Love," that is supposedly all about female self discovery ends with a man. A hot man, but a man nonetheless. Oh, but it also comes with it's own line of signature perfumes available on QVC, so I guess that makes it okay.
I just can't wait until Helen is at the top of Everest, being lauded for her good work with orphans and her jaunty scarf, waving her left hand, with a ring -- if that's what she wants -- or happily ringless, at the the world below.
I will be cheering loudly.
* As in Reddy, as in the title of this blog.