Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

June 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm 2 comments

Yesterday, I was in a meeting where the general discussion was, of course, politics. The conversation wound this way and that, and we ended up discussing women. Oh boy. In my experience, this never really goes well unless you’re in a women’s studies class (and even then, not always). So I guess I was not surprised at the comments made, but still angered and a little disheartened. Here’s how it went:

The group started discussing Those Women that say they have to ask their husbands before making a political decision. There was the shaking of heads, disgust, disbelief – gosh, aren’t women stupid for relying on their husbands to tell them how to vote? (Now, this annoys me as well, but there is a constructive way to talk about this and a not-so-constructive way. The tone of the people at the table was definitely in the latter category). That was bad enough, but the direction the conversation took next, well that’s what really bothered me.

Somebody then pointed out how HIS wife didn’t ask him who to vote for at all; instead, she just – GASP – voted how she wanted! Without consulting him! And everyone laughed and shook their heads at Those Women who are independent and who dare not to rely on their husbands to tell them what to do. Ho-ho-ho, women with a mind of their own, doing what they want without asking – how silly.

You might be confused at this point! And it’s understandable! First, women were chided for asking their husband who to vote for, and then folks chuckled over those women who make up their own mind.

The message is clear – and women get this message from all angles about many different topics: nothing you do is the right thing. Ask your husband how to vote? Wrong. Make up your own mind? Also wrong. Let’s see, what else: Breastfeed? Wrong. Formula? Also, wrong. Get married young? Wrong. Get married older? Also wrong. Dress in clothes that hide your femininity? Wrong. Dress in clothes that show your femininity too much? Also wrong. Care about how you look? Wrong. Don’t care enough about how you look? Also wrong.

And I could go on, but really the point is: Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

But wait. The worst part about this conversation regarding women and politics? The few other women in the room – all laughing and shaking their head and chiding. Women hate is just about the most disheartening thing ever.

This entire conversation was frustrating, and clearly showed the level of animosity towards women that still exists in our society. We can’t do anything without facing scrutiny for our actions. What’s more, the actions we take as individuals speaks for the entirety of women. The constraints are sometimes unbearable.

But we must keep pushing, pushing, pushing against the constraints. There is no other way.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. inmyinternest  |  June 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I’m speechless. I never thought women would still ask their husbands how to vote! Or that there would still be men who chuckle patronisingly over women…? Didn’t that kind of behaviour become unacceptable 70 years ago???

    • 2. Stephanie  |  June 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      This is probably cliche to say, but I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!


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