“They” tell us there’s a right way to do things. “They” tell us the time isn’t right. “They” tell us we’ll make a mistake if we don’t do what they say is important. “They” tell us everything is fine just the way things are.
We often don’t even know who “they” are. “They” live in our minds.
Whoever “they” are, they’re telling some young women that they shouldn’t have children because they’re not earning enough.
Whoever “they” are, they’re telling other young women they need to get important college degrees, not the one’s they want.
Whoever “they” are, they’re telling millions of people they don’t need to worry about their health or education.
Whoever “they” are, they’re telling young women they don’t need to worry about feminism.
Whoever “they” are, they’re telling young feminists that they should be listening to rich, beautiful women.
Whoever “they” are, they’ve convinced hundreds of thousands of people to pay to watch children kill children.
But, they say, it’s just a story. But, they say, these rich women have an audience so more people will hear important messages. But, they say, women can go to college and get jobs. But, they say, school sucks. But, they will say, everything is fine in moderation. But, they say, you should be thankful for what you’re getting.
We’re now supposed to be thankful for any job we can get, often at rates far less than the equivalent of what minimum wage should be (minimum wage equivalent to 1968 is $22*). Before I had children, I had the same fear as a young woman I spoke to the other day who is afraid to have kids because she’s being told it costs too much. She’s in her early thirties, unmarried, living with her boyfriend. I was married, we had two fairly good incomes at the time and I believed the same thing. Today, I see women everywhere with two or three kids, managing somehow.
Maybe they’re not spending their money on movies.**
But how could we possibly live without them? Don’t we need to patronize them so we can then hear those rich, beautiful women tell us all about what it means to be truly beautiful? Surely, they’ll change the world. Won’t they? Or are they simply being opportunists? Presenting themselves as “hero women,” speaking out for those they think are having to live miserable lives because they’re burdened with being unattractive. To me, it seems as if the “stars” are simply setting themselves up, hoping enough people will be gullible enough to follow them like adoring automatons that hand over money when the “stars” want to parade across the screen again, so you can admire their not-really-real-anyway beauty at 100 times the normal size of any human being, while wishing you could look just like them. (Tip: You can probably come close if you want to—it’s sold in containers at the market.)
I grew up with “beauty is only skin deep” and “she has a great personality.” I heard them often enough and, from what I can see, having people say this kind of thing never accomplished anything. It seems like bringing the subject up constantly just keeps the conversation going, keeping our attention focused on “beauty,” reminding us night and day. It’s like, stop already. If we just look around, we see that no one’s perfect. Why don’t we change the conversation? Here’s one:
We have to be able to think for ourselves, which often means getting what it means to get an education, to stop listening to whoever it is you think has told you it sucks. It may be hard, but if you figure out that failing or not understanding things benefits “them,” maybe you’ll start putting in the effort. It doesn’t just mean getting a high school diploma, it means being willing to push further, to keep educating yourself, to listen to different opinions to understand what’s really going on in the world. We need to ask, “Why?” Why would I give up anything that offers an opportunity? Why am I afraid to do what seems right for me?
If you connect with women who have lived their lives as feminists, you’ll see that getting an education and being able to get a job is not “mission accomplished.” It’s, wow, now it takes two people to earn what’s needed to raise a family when it only took one person to do the same fifty years ago. Employers are getting twice as much work for the same amount of money and lots of women are working and doing most of the childcare, often without ever earning enough to have much in savings for retirement. And women live longer than men. You should be asking yourself, “What the hell?”
But “they” have told some people that feminists are “filthy” progressives. Feminists support abortion and the LGBTQ community—making some people wonder, “Are they bad? Are they okay?”***
I think we need to talk more about the messages we’re receiving. I hope you’ll follow my journey as I continue to share ideas and explore issues we deal with…as women and, sometimes, just being human.
Fair warning: if you follow me, you might start thinking differently and we might just really change the world, even though when we say that now, it’s like, we sound stupid, but I don’t care, because that’s what I want to do.
* http://www.topix.com/forum/city/london-ky/TV9VBUGV7DCIPEEAB — The $22 minimum wage Warren referred to came from a 2012 study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. It said that the minimum wage would have hit $21.72 an hour last year if it had been tied to the increases seen in worker productivity since 1968.
**Yes, I know this probably sounds flippant, but I hope it’s understood I’m simply trying to make the point that when we have kids we often need to cut out some of these kinds of expenses. I cut out a lot more than movies. I saw a post the other day about having kids that was awful and I’ll be blogging about it soon. Some women want children. I did. And I had to make hard decisions, to cut out what wasn’t important “to me,” to be able to get my kids and myself what “I believe is important,” which starts with the basics of good food and a good education.
***My book shares information that will enable you understand and find peace with both of these issues if you are asking these kinds of questions. Hope you’ll follow as I work to get it published.