When I speak with my cohorts fighting the sexism battle since 2008, we always come to the same exasperating place, and that is the current blindness on the left to their hypocrisy on sexism. Now before I continue, to those who I and many others are calling out on the carpet, sexism is also present on the right. I'll address it another day. But yes, it is YOU, the people on the left, to whom I speak today.
Let me state clearly----I am NOT a conservative. I have NOT joined the Republicans. I am a proud Independent. What that means to me is that I can see the points of view of both sides without needing to marry myself to one or the other. To hear what we 21st feminists have to say, it will require thinking outside the box. To move gender parity ahead, we will need forward thinking, something that should be easy for a liberal.
However, many men and women on the left are so tied up in their ideology, much of it blindly in my humble opinion, that they are unwilling to see beyond themselves. This fact is a real tragedy since there are many smart, well educated folks on the left who are not using their intelligence to think beyond certain parameters. The leftist ideology has calcified causing creative thinking on feminism to have stopped dead in its tracks since the 80's. Let me put a couple of examples on the table.
Whenever we 21st century feminists and gender equality seekers speak up about the sexism that women running for president and vice-president are enduring, the first thing that the left throws in our faces is abortion. As far as they are concerned, it is game over. For 30+ years, the broad outlines of feminism have slowly shrunk. At first feminism was all about opening doors to women on all fronts, particularly in education and in the job market. Women and sympathetic men regardless of party ideology worked to lift the prospects of all women. Over the course of the next 30 years, that fight morphed into a fight about abortion, one that is ongoing. The abortion battle split women right down the middle and over time the interest in working together for parity tragically went away. In my previous piece "Women's Rights are Held Hostage To Party Rhetoric" I discuss how effective a strategy the abortion battle has been for both parties to keep women in line and divided. As long as we are fighting each other we can't unite and work together to achieve some progress on some very pressing common interests.
It is said that by the left that if we take our eye off the ball, we will lose our abortion rights, and that is a valid concern. However, does it mean that we can't work together to get more women into positions of power in this country? The blind spot on the left is that abortion is more important than women gaining their rightful place as being proportionally represented. What does our country stand for if not equality? What is the beaming light of democracy if we don't have equal representation for all? Why is the left so willing to just give up on those basic principles of our beloved country for the right to an abortion? Why can't the left multitask better where women's rights are concerned?
The 2008 election revealed to the complacent that women's progress has stalled big time. We rank #70 in the world in female representation in government. Women hold 4% of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies, and our numbers tend to stall out in other professions at 18% on average in holding the reins of power positions. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers reveals a similar set of statistics. It seems pretty clear that the United States, a country that prides itself as the world leader in so many areas, is seriously lagging behind in the world for women in leadership roles.
So we 21st century feminists and gender equality seekers have to ask ourselves why are women in their current stunted state and what needs to be done to correct the problem? Some of the ideas that come to the fore are that the causes of this inequality can be directly linked to the sexism and sexist expressions that are too readily bandied about. There is even empirical evidence proving this point that just calling women stereotypical slurs will lower their approval ratings immediately. The left has been simply terrible in bandying about the sexist slurs. For many of us who were Democratic Party stalwarts, it was reason enough to leave the party. For some reason, the left which claims to be the party of women has become the party of bullying women. How did such a thing happen? And many times the bullies are other women. It reminds me of the Iran-Iraq War 20 years ago when young children were used as human shields, an act that horrified us in the United States. The bad guys let the children do the dirty work for them, and it often appears that the women on the left are being used to do the dirty work for the party to keep women in line. Just saying........
Another example from the left that is particularly galling to those of us interested in the 21st century advancement of women is when the left will say "any woman but not that woman." No woman is ever right enough, perfect enough, etc. And when you get right down to it, it is the typical stereotypes of women that make them not good enough----you know, she's too witchy, she's too stupid, she's too unqualified, the whole smarmy mess of stereotypes. The left even goes so far as to call women of the right not women. The party of women can't stop itself from stereotyping. That isn't the party I fell in love with 40 years ago.
Some people, myself included, feel that a more dramatic step needs to be taken and that is to just go ahead and vote more women in of all stripes so people can get used to the idea of seeing large numbers of women in power. It's an interim measure at best. But on the left whenever that idea is proposed, they come SCREAMING back with "well I'm NOT a vagina voter," a kneejerk reaction in my opinion. This pious stand comes apart when the left realizes that one of the reasons that our current president got the left so excited was because it made people feel good to think that it was high time we elected an African-American president and help erase our horrible racial past. The left is stuck in this extreme act of hypocrisy when criticizing people for wanting to vote for women for similar historic reasons.
I'll finish up today by saying that the more interesting thinking on 21st century feminism and gender equality is going on in the middle and on the right. The liberal left is lagging far behind. My cohorts and I believe that the left may well be the lagging indicator of finally achieving female parity in the United States. What an irony!!! But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be speaking up loudly to that brick wall every chance we get. Even the walls of Jericho came tumbling down---all at once. Keep talking to the left, my friends. They are smart and intelligent. They are just blind right now.