Is anyone else experiencing sexism fatigue? If you are, read on. If not, this post is probably not for you, because I'm feeling sort of pissed today. A few years ago, I really thought we had made a lot of progress in equalizing the playing field for women. I knew that we weren't there yet, and that the face of power typically did not wear mascara, but I really thought we were on our way. These days, I am beginning to feel as though I can't get through a day without feeling as though I have been treated crappily on account of my gender (or maybe it’s just overuse of the word crappily?), or that certain doors bear the unwritten message: 'Go Away'.
I have encountered a growing comfort among men to openly discriminate against women, and they are seemingly annoyed or perplexed when they are called on it. Or they react as though your horror is somehow confirmation of the negative traits they’ve ascribed to you. This may be why women struggle to self-identify as feminists, stripping them of their unity and strength. For example, I was recently told to my face that a high paying tech-centric sales position was only open to men or young “hot” women, you know, because women have no way to speak “tech,” thus it is only worth it to hire them if they are visually hot for nerds to look at. Could you imagine substituting gendered terms for racial ones here? I mean, outside a bar in Mississippi?
Problem is, the legal field may be even more vulnerable to antiquated thinking about gender norms than the average high skill profession, with statistics consistently showing that women are locked out of the top positions in every facet of the field. The legal community still not only permits, but embraces, decision-making based on factors that are, for lack of a better word, unfair – i.e. nepotism, school ranking, physical presentation, adeptness at putting an old white guy at ease, perceived lawyerlyness, and ability to lapse into bro-speak at a moment’s notice. These factors, which harm both sexes, pose a peculiar risk to women.
The fatigue is compounded and intensified by what has been labeled the 'war on women,' which is raging in the political landscape around us. A new bomb goes off nearly every day at this point, until I feel like crawling in bed with my tail between my legs. Women aren’t invited to the Congressional panel on what lady folks can do with their bodies. Boom. Men should be permitted to prevent their female employees from access to the pill, or even fire them for taking it. Boom. Women should only be protected from "legitimate rape," you know, the real kind, where they weren't just making it up or asking for it. Boom. Women should be criminally prosecuted for abortion. Boom. Sandra Fluke is a prostitute because she doesn’t want her contraceptive coverage to be arbitrarily withheld. Boom. Women who seek an abortion should undergo medically unnecessary and invasive vaginal ultrasounds. Boom. The gender pay gap is a fiction born of the weaker minds of the weaker sex. Boom. Pre-teen girls shouldn't be given the HPV vaccine to reduce the likelihood of cervical cancer... ummm...for serious y'all? Boom.
But, it’s not all bad, we are already dominating the field. The next step is to start clawing our way to the top and reaching down to pull our sisters up. So, on better days, I remember that one day we will form the more perfect union we were promised. Fair warning world, we have come a very long way and you will not shove us back without a fight.