I think it’s time to talk about Hillary Clinton. This isn’t a political post, but it is a discussion on gender roles, which feels like the best part of the U.S. election process so far.
I grew up in a conservative, evangelical Christian environment. I was taught that the husband is the head of the home and that the wife’s role was to submit to his authority. This seemed unacceptable and unhealthy to me then and I feel exactly the same way now as a forty-three-year-old woman.
It simply does not work. Most of the women in my childhood model said all the right and demure things about being submissive while finding inventive ways to manipulate, control and manage the outcome of any situation. It was a system that bred resentment, distrust and outright abuses of power.
When I fell in love as a twenty-three-year old, I made damn sure to find a man who did not subscribe to this “the man is the head of the home” dictate. Jason was (and is) open-minded and flexible in his worldview; a fact that has led directly to a more balanced way of life for our two children.
Ava just turned thirteen and is a budding activist for gender equality. My heart swells with pride when I watch her stand up for the rights of girls and women to be anything and anyone they choose – rights that boys and men have taken for granted for centuries. Ava says all of the words I was too timid to express when I was her age. She inspires me to speak up and be braver now.
This “Smile for Joe” hashtag gets me all riled up. The idea that a man believes he can tell a woman what to do with her face when she delivers a victory speech (in 2016 for shit’s sake) simply demonstrates how deep this unconscious bias runs in North American culture. Why should a woman have to smile? Is it to demonstrate how easygoing and sweet she is so that men feel more comfortable. No way. Not any longer.
Then there are the young women who decided they won’t vote for Hillary because she’s a woman and they feel they are “expected to.” This baffles me. Don’t vote for her if you don’t like her politics – I can respect that. But to say it’s too obvious because you’re a feminist shows that you don’t understand just how hard women have had to fight for their rights to get you to this point. And we are still fighting. We all still have work to do.
I’m hopeful that we are making progress. The little things matter when we are talking about gender equality. Language is important. I love that Hillary is running so these issues are front and centre. If no one would criticize a man for saying or doing something (i.e. not smiling in a speech) then the same must go for a woman.
We are all in this together but I do think we are moving in the right direction and that makes me happy (even if I don’t smile in public over it). Let’s keep going. One day these posts won’t be necessary at all.