Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Skin in the game

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
The world would split open."
― Muriel Rukeyser
I am voting for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. She is a woman who is arguably the best qualified candidate president this nation has seen in decades.

But most of all, she has skin the game in a way no male possibly can.

She was born 11 months after I was, which means she is a woman who has lived long enough to have endured:

  • having her body, her clothes, her hair, her very being scrutinized and commented on by an passing male and by many women. This process began shortly after her birth, because any female old enough to walk is required to "be pretty".
  • having her church tell her that by being a woman, she suffers from the sin of Eve, and that's why God considers her less than a male child.
  • seeing few to no female role models in the news, on the radio. in her school books, on TV, or anywhere in the culture in which she lived.
  • watching the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, which began the process of her coming to understand that as a white woman, no matter how restricted her life might be, it was immensely less restricted than the lives of African American, Hispanic, and other women of color.
  • being told by magazines, teachers, the church, and probably some members of her own family not to be "too smart" or it would make her less attractive to men.
  • being told the most important thing she could do was to be attractive to men.
  • becoming of child-bearing age prior to the birth control pill being widely available to women. This means she has a visceral knowledge no male can have of the immense importance of safe, affordable, readily available contraception. She understands that for women to be in control of their reproductive lives is not only a health issue but an economic issue.
  • knowing that should she become pregnant, having a safe abortion would mean finding the money to travel to another country where it was legal. Otherwise, the only option was a dangerous back-alley abortion or a self-induced abortion.
  • knowing that the State at the local, state, and national level feels entitled to take control of her body, decreeing what she can put into it and what she could take out of it. She knows what it feels like to live without bodily autonomy. 
  • being encouraged to go to college so she would "have something to fall back on" in case her husband died (and of COURSE she would get married) and she was forced to support herself and their children (and of COURSE she would have children).
  • being told by the State that she is not a legal human being, that only her husband is.
  • being considered a child under the law, no matter what her age, and denied the right to serve on juries or make legal decisions. Her father, brother, or even her son would be required to sign contracts for her to have credit, buy a house, start a business, or any of a thousand actions any male felt entitled to attempt.
  • looking for a job in the classified sections of newspapers, only to find jobs listed as "Jobs for Men" and "Jobs for Women", and realizing all the professional openings were in the male-only section.
  • having state law decree that she could not apply for any job that required her to work nights, lift weights over 25 pounds, travel overnight, or drive a vehicle, telling her it was all for her protection.
  • being pressured to take her husband's last name to prove he really had control of her, even though it has never been necessary by law, only custom.
  • having state law decree that she could not choose how to give birth, mandating that all births take place in hospitals and be attended by a physician. No midwives allowed.
  • being told that she is "taking a job away from a man" when she enters a male-dominated field.
  • being paid less than men for the same job. 
And this is only the beginning of what Hillary Clinton brings to her candidacy.

So when I say I am voting for Hillary because she is a woman, this is why.

"I will choose
what enters me,
what becomes flesh of my flesh,
Without choice,
no politics, no ethics lives.
I am not your cornfield,
not your uranium mine,
not your calf for fattening,
not your cow for milking.
You may not use me as a factory.
Priests and legislators
do not hold my shares
in my womb or my mind.
This is my body.
If I give it to you I want it back.
My life is a non-negotiable demand."
Marge Piercy

No comments: