Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Women and Sleds

One of my earliest memories is of my mother tying the strings of a knit hat underneath my chin and telling me, "You can do anything those boys can do." 

The occasion was a snowy day in Nashville, Tennessee.  My father was taking me sledding with his friends and their children - all boys.  I remember very little about the rest of the day, except not having as many turns on the sled as I wanted.  I was not quite five years old, and I suppose it had never occurred to me to think I couldn't do everything a boy could do...if I had my own sled.

And isn't that what it's all about, really?  Who owns the sled?  

On this 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, I awoke to a list of statistics that made me feel like I've done nothing more spectacular than a man in the last 50 years than live in denial.  Keeping up with the boys...where has it left us?   Take a look:
  • 2/3 of the work done in the world is done by women
  • 10% of the world's income is earned by women
  • 1% of the world's property is owned by women
  • 70-million girls in the world are denied access to basic education because they are girls
  • 1 in 4 women in the world are victims of domestic violence
  • 3 women a day are killed in the United States by intimate partners
Let's not even begin the conversation about what a pregnancy does to a woman's career...or sexual harassment...or an affair.  Honestly, when has one of these things compromised the power of a man? 

I have found a bit of solace today in the words of the late, great Ann Richards: 
If you give us the chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.
Still, I'm betting Ginger had a joint banking account with Fred and that he called the shots.  Dancing backwards, I'm thinking, is not going to change the ways of world.

Stepping up, marching forward, and standing firm...that, my Sisters, changes the world.

So let's begin...high heels in the back of the closet where they belong, resolve on our minds, a better future for the next generation of women in our hearts:

Step 1:  Acknowledge the truth. We are not considered equals in this world. 

Step 2: Fight for yourself and for others.

Step 3: Call on the Sisterhood...which is strong and smart and steady and sane...when you need help.

Step 4:  Be ready to help. 

The US constitution still does not have an Equal Rights Amendment.  I can't believe the fact of that doesn't disappointment my mother - a strong woman who raised four capable daughters to live in the world with a lie.   

We cannot do everything the boys can do, Mom. 

They still own the sleds. 


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