Well, we certainly are having A Month.
The ups and downs of last week alone, particularly if you’re among the womenfolk in this country, was a doozy. Women were reminded, again, that having something to say, having something to stand up for in 2019, means you’re having a meltdown.
A couple of points on this:
I’m not surprised.
Not being surprised doesn’t mean it isn’t hurtful.
Of course this comment came from the same guy who called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” at the end of the last presidential debate in 2016. And who can forget his classic grabbing pussies commentary in the 2005 Access Hollywood tape?
Yes, yes. We know. He’s not a feminist. And, if I had to guess, that’s probably the case with the vast majority of the guys who have worked in the Oval Office.
While not new, it is not something I’m getting used to either. I still don’t like it and it still makes me mad. The last three years have been particularly trying. Maybe it’s the frequency of revelations that things for women, and especially for people of color, were never as good as we were told. Hard work, I was told as a kid, would let me be anything I wanted to be as an adult.
But that’s not the case. It’s not true for women and it’s really not true for people of color.
And I don’t get the sense that anyone in power is interested in changing things. After all, that would mean they would have to “give up something.” It’s especially difficult to think change is on the horizon when even the word “compromise” is considered a vulgarity. We’re firmly in an era when no one wants to give in or admit they made a mistake.
While compromise is something women, including myself, do all day every day, there are things I don’t want to give up on either. I do not want to give up on the idea that women can do more and can be more in 2019 and beyond. That feminist seed was planted in me by the same country now providing mixed messages about being a woman and standing up to power.
Going back to 1983, I can remember hearing the name Sally Ride. Being a 7-year-old girl in this country when the United States sent a woman to space meant I heard adults say, “See? You can be anything you want.”
They told us we could be “anything.”
Thirty-six years later, but two female astronauts made history again last week by doing a spacewalk together. During their call to the White House, Trump used the word “brave” to describe astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch. During that call, Meir told Trump, “There have been a long line of female scientists, explorers, engineers and astronauts. And we have followed in their footsteps to get us where we are today.”
Where are we today?
Maybe somewhere in this country there is a 7-year-old girl who hears two women, from the reaches of space, tell the United States President that they’re just doing their jobs. And maybe she’s also seeing another woman, in a room filled with men, stand up and let them know she’s got something to say.
That little girl is not just seeing women do their job. She’s seeing them be brave and that is more than telling girls they can be anything. That’s showing them.
Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd named Max. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, publishes periodically. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.