So, a conservative female friend forwarded the following picture to me today. The subject line read: Why Republican Men Are Happier.
Here are my thoughts. I remember when I was a little girl and I learned about Sandra Day O’Connor. I remember reading that she was the first woman on the Supreme Court. And that just blew my young mind. She was the first woman – but the Court had been around for so long. I remember being confused by this. When I got older, I read about how she graduated third in her class at Stanford Law school, but that after she graduated, law firms would only interview her for secretary positions. And again, I was confused. Why would people think that she was worth less just because she was a woman? Hadn’t she proven otherwise?
Despite my confusion, I never questioned what *I* could do. I believed – without question – that it wasn’t like that anymore. I believed that things were better now; that merit outweighed ignorant bias. That we valued intellect and ability more than superficial things. That if you just worked hard and were smart and good at your job, you would be valued. That’s what we were told, right?
Many years later, now a lawyer myself, I would be forced to admit that things were not as I had thought. Superficial things matter more. And if you want to overcome those superficial things and succeed on the merits, you have to have more drive and more bravery and thicker skin than I could ever have. You would have to be willing to always work harder than the others, to swallow your pride, to get used to being left out of things, to pretend that it didn’t bother you when your bosses ignored your successes while celebrating others’, to force a laugh when they talked about your legs/tits/ass, and to smile and nod your way through every joke and leer for shittier assignments and higher scrutiny.
And for what? To move “up” to a more elite group of people that ignore your opinions and look down on your work? I knew early on I wasn’t willing to do that. I wasn’t willing to give up so much of myself to be a part of something that had nothing of me in it.
So when I see things like this, joke or not, all I can think is that we really have gone nowhere. Smart women are mocked for being unattractive while people like Carrie Prejean are lauded as “brave.” What has Carrie Prejean done to make things substantively better for anyone?
I’ve accepted the fact that society is what it is – and that, no matter what people want to tell you, women are simply not valued the same as men. Just saying things are “equal” doesn’t make it so. Fight all I want, I can’t change that. I can’t change millions of minds and all the things that reinforce thoughts like those behind this email. All I can do is raise my kids to know that it is utter bullshit.
If I do my job as a mother correctly, the LAST thing on *my* daughter’s mind will be the happiness of Republican men.