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What it’s like to be a feminist in the Year of the Cock

Sections: Opinion Published

Ps & Qs
By Jeannie Perry

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It’s 2017, the Chinese Year of the Cock, and the ERA still has not been ratified (written by Alice Paul in 1923, passed by Congress in 1972, still not ratified by the required minimum of 38 states to become part of our constitution). Some say it’s not necessary because women already have the right to vote, but this is about more than voting. Women are half of the population and our personal rights should be protected just as well as men’s. I have a sneaking suspicion that is exactly why it has not been ratified. Because then women would have equality on more than just the vote … equal pay for equal work, for example, or the exclusive freedom to decide what happens to our own bodies. Call me crazy, but I don’t think Vice President-Elect Pence’s New Year’s resolution is to see women attain legal equality.

What do these old guys have against sharing the stage with women? And please don’t tell me it’s about wresting control back from their mother-figures; I mean, were there really that many mean mommies in the 1950s? Don’t they realize there’s plenty of room for women to stand beside them without causing them to lose their footing? It’s not an Olympic platform, for Pete’s sake. All signs point to Trump’s presidency bringing about license to deconstruct all the progress made in women’s rights. Judging by the election results, the age-old notion that a woman leaves her family to become part of her husband’s, that she needs a man to protect and defend her virtue, is alive and well and apparently thriving in the voting core of our country. All the men (and women?) who feel they’ve drawn the short straw all these years went and voted for the guy who “just grabs ’em by the pussy.” Seriously?! I wish Hills had said she likes to “grab ’em by the balls.” You know, just to get their attention.

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The American perception of today’s woman is in conflict with itself, like Wonder Woman asking her daddy before taking out the invisible plane. The strong, independent woman who can do/have it all: wife, mother, lover, best friend, all the while working 40 hours a week and making time to manage a household, is still just a supporting role, permanently on-call to satisfy her man’s needs (and apparently still in need of a bunch of old-fashioned, xenophobic chauvinists to determine the best practice concerning her reproductive health). What a dangerous tenet to teach our girls, especially if we want them to grow up learning to be the heroines of their own stories. We need to show them by example that we choose to share our life with a man and then work together as true partners.

That said, I do recognize a biological proclivity (for heterosexual women) to seek chivalry and strength in men; an attraction so inherent, so primal that we barely recognize it consciously, like fight or flight. I consider myself to be a staunch feminist, but even I like to see a room full of cowboys all take their hats off; it doesn’t make me a Protestant or a prostitute. And my husband does protect me in many ways. In a figurative sense, he encourages me to follow my inner demons/guides and points out the obvious when I’m unwilling or unable to see the flaws of my course. And in a literal sense, he intervenes whenever a bigot at the bar tries to get my goat … (of course, it helps that he’s 6’3” and looks the part of protector in tribute to his Viking heritage). I think that was a big part of my initial attraction to him, this sense of secure-and-protect the perimeter that I could feel, but not necessarily name.

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It would seem the warrior aspect of generations past has been lost, or mutated into hate crimes and bullying, but there’s a better way to keep the spirit of the masculine guardian alive. By channeling it into advocacy for women’s rights, men can help accomplish equality for their wives, sisters, daughters — everyone in the tribe. It’s worth fighting for to provide an equal, balanced platform for the masculine and feminine aspects of our selves, to promote equality for all, and to finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

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