My friend Steve Klass used to say, “I like people! They’re my species!” Women are half of my species and none of my gender. (It may or may not be as simple as that anymore, I know, but you get my drift).
Years ago, at Deering (where every great thing in my life started), there was a workshop, “women’s liberation” and girls could go to it, and maybe guys. I dont remember. It lasted two days. Then there was another workshop, “men’s liberation”. It lasted two days. Of course, the groups combined and had “human liberation”, where each of the first two groups shared their info about how to be free from gender stereotypes. That cemented what I already knew: women can run things. Deering also taught women how to change the oil on a car (Bonnie Aronian’s VW).
Having grown up for much of my childhood raised by a single-parent, my Mom, it would never have occurred to me that women couldn’t do this or that, because she had to … all the time. I understood that part of President Obama’s psyche because of our shared experience. There are many men, and women, who have that same experience and they know better than to think otherwise.
Given these experiences, the idea that a woman couldn’t do anything simply wouldn’t have occurred to me. What’s weird to me is that so many people think women shouldn’t. I still don’t understand the concept. If a woman can do something, why shouldn’t she? If she has to, she can. Why not let her anyway?
Now, I don’t like all women. I don’t like all of anybody. I don’t like Ann Coulter, for instance. I mostly don’t like Kelly Anne Conway. Didn’t like Margaret Thatcher much, either, or Phyllis Schlafly. I don’t like mean people. From the just snide to the abusive and sociopathic, I don’t like mean people in my species. That includes the half that are women.
Something Kelly Anne said the other day made sense to me. When she was speaking at CPAC , in a part where I could bear to listen without wanting to throw up, she talked about speaking fees and, thinking about “When Harry Met Sally”, she said about a male colleague, “I’ll have what he’s having!”.
The idea that women don’t make the same money as men — or don’t have the same worth as men in any way– doesn’t make any sense to me. If they’re going to have the same bills, shouldn’t they have the same pay?
So, yes, I would call myself a feminist if by that you mean, “they can do anything they want to do” and “they have the same worth that men do”. Beyond that, or different than that, I got nothing in the “feminism” department. Still, That will do me.
I don’t find it surprising that women can be great. What I do find surprising is that anyone –male or female– can think otherwise. It’s unacceptable to me that anyone could.
On this International Women’s Day, I hope that we will notice, see, and stand up for all that women do.
Some of my heroines? Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Gerry Claytor, Gloria Steinem, Mary Lou Brewer, Marlo Thomas, all of the women from Deering, my kind and caring clergy colleagues (for whom this list would take all day), Malala, Joan Baez and Janis Joplin. Of course, my wife and daughters, but also my psychology colleagues, including Liz Solomon Wright and Bobbi Fox, Cathi Chapin-Bishop, Joan of Arc, Carole Fontaine, my sister MIchelle and Bunky, her bandmate, Bev Rheaume… the list could go on all day. A day without these women in the world or in my heart is a tragedy.
Resisting with peace,