At 73 I am pissed off.
As a womxn, I have spent 73 years being told I am worthless by white men who hold power, any kind of power. I used to believe them, I don’t anymore.
Ever since I was a child, I was told there were simply places I could not go, things I couldn’t do because of who I was, female. And, I believed them. Why wouldn’t I? They were people I was told to look up to, teachers, ministers, policeman, fireman, politicians, even my father. My mother tried to convince me it was in my interest to stay within the boundaries old, white, pathetic, men tried to put around me. And I let them, to a point.
I was 22 when my father died of cancer, and on his death bed he told me I needed to find a husband very soon who would take care of me or I would come to a bad end. I didn’t listen. I still don’t know what that ‘bad end’ was.
Something in me said they were all wrong, my mother, my father, ministers, politicians, bosses, teachers, friends. When a ‘friend’ came to me saying one of the reasons I couldn’t get a date was that men were afraid of me because I spoke my mind, I was too strong and needed to me more ‘soft.’ I told him, yes a him, if that was the case then I didn’t want a date. And, I didn’t get one.
When an employer told me, I couldn’t get a raise because I was at the top of my pay scale, only to discover that a man who did the same job had received a raise. I asked how his this was possible; I was told he had a family and when I ‘finally’ got married I would leave so I didn’t need one. That was when I learned of workplace inequality. I threw a fit and got fired.
I have spent my entire life struggling to be seen, to be believed, to be accepted. I made friends with people of color, immigrants, the different gendered because they, like me, were kept out of positions of power, out of well-paying jobs, locked out of society. I disliked, but understood, women who choose the tactics of men in order to succeed. They did it because it was the only way they could. I disliked, but understood, women who used their gender to succeed because it was the only way they could. I choose neither of those routes and ended up with jobs I hated and people I distrusted because I had to in order to survive.
In the last 20 years I gained hope that womxn were finally making gains politically, economically, and socially. Yes, there are more womxn in science, business, and politics than ever before but not enough. Womxn, people of color, indigenous people, and the different gendered make up the majority of our population but make up only a fraction of the leaders in business, science, and politics. That not only disappoints me it angers me.
I do not understand womxn who continue to support old, white, European males over womxn of any color, people of color, or people who are different gendered. It totally boggles the mind. We are better than that. We deserve better.
My hope lies in the young womxn from across this globe who are making their voices heard. My hope lies in the womxn of ‘Me Too’ who are saying enough with being abused and demeaned just to further a man’s position. But I am discouraged, frustrated, and angry that these womxn, young and old, are being berated and demeaned by politicians and media because they are refusing to be silenced. I am confused by womxn who do not support them. I am angry that the choice of politician we are being handed is an old, white, European male, who though he appears enlightened grew up in the same time period I did and I have no doubt indulged in white, male privilege by demeaning or berating womxn, people of color, and the different gendered just to get ahead. It is what was done in my day, his day. I don’t blame him, it was how he was raised, but I don’t want those same attitudes leading my country anymore.
I am tired, frustrated, angry, old, and yes just a little crazy. If that is what it takes to get heard then I encourage more womxn to be crazy, tired, frustrated, angry, and if it fits old.
Ruth Jewell, ©May 3, 2020