Friday, June 19, 2009

Move Over Gloria Steinem

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, is rightfully grabbing the spotlight today, but the speech he gave in Tehran, earlier today, couldn't help but make me think of the Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination, and how much progress we, in the west, have made in how we treat our women.

Okay, so nobody's ever accused me of being a feminist. Some have even suggested that Arthur Rimbaud was more of a feminist than I am. But, lately, I've been wondering about a few things:

Think about this: why is it that when men do it, it's called work; when women do it, it's called sublimating. When men do it, it's called driven; when women do it, it's called pushy. And, when men do it, it's called assertive, when women do it, it's called bitchy.

I wonder how Dostoyevsky, or Joyce, would have responded were they to be told they were "sublimating" instead of creating works of art.

Yes, these are all cliches. We've heard these before. But, as we listen to Iran's supreme leader demand subordination from his people, as we put the remote back where it belongs, we need to think about the odor of mendacity, and the hypocrisy with which we live every day. We hear about all the advances women have made, and continue to make daily. Look at Sonia Sotomayor, for example, and Hillary Clinton. Still, we must ask why character assassination, and gender stereotypes, continue to figure so heavily into the selection process when women are considered for the Supreme Court, and/or other high government posts?

We have become so adept at disenfranchisement, in this country, that nobody even notices we do it anymore.

How many women political commentators do we read in the mainstream press? And, what does this say about just how much we've really changed in our attitudes toward women?

Now that there are some who want to take us back to the days when a woman had no choice about motherhood, we must, yet again, examine if a woman's primary mode of creation must pass through the birth canal.

Arguably, what's happening in Iran is as close to revolution as any of us will see in our lifetimes. This is not to say that we don't need radical reform, just that we are not nearly as close to recognizing this need as our Iranian counterparts.