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International Women’s Day

March 8, 2012

Today is the day designated for the acknowledgement of women around the world. They don’t get a week, or a month, or a season, or as in my life, the entire year to be acknowledged. We have to pack it all in to one day. This isn’t Mother’s Day. That’s about something else entirely, which just happens to cross over with some–not all–women in the world. This is about women as they are, completely aside from their ability–some would say function–as child-bearers. It’s about who women are inside, what they’re capable of doing, and who they could be if we’ll allow them to.

Many women have been emancipated from the kitchen and the bedroom for decades, but there has been a slow, inexorable shift in the way women are perceived, both by men and by themselves and each other. Women are starting to forget, because they’ve had some freedom for a while, that they can lose that freedom, too. Because we still live in a world where some men can remember what it was like to have total control and most of the choices and freedoms that men enjoyed in the 50s. They remember it, or more likely misremember it, as being a great age, and they want it back, forgetting that it wasn’t all sweetness and light.

Have they not watched any episodes of Mad Men, or did they just miss the underlying message? The Fifties and even the early Sixties were an ugly time, especially for women, Blacks and LGBTs. Things aren’t perfect now, but they can be, and seem to be getting, a lot worse, in the face of a creeping social conservatism that doesn’t care about civil liberties or human rights. I don’t know what time warp these people have been hiding in all these years, but they don’t seem to grasp what they’re trying to take away and how it will affect lots of people in their efforts to turn back the clock to a time they clearly don’t remember too well. They think it won’t affect them adversely. They think it will make things better, the way it used to be.

Basically, they’re well-meaning idiots, who have forgotten one of the first stories most of them ever heard: The Sky Is Falling.

They see all of these gay and lesbian and black and hispanic and asian people living normal, acceptable lives, and somewhere in their hearts they know it’s wrong; that those people are freaks and foreigners and don’t deserve to enjoy the lifestyle our forefathers sacrificed so much to provide for us. We see white people on the unemployment lines, or living in the streets, and we attribute that to the fact that jobs are being stolen from natives. We see kids on drugs and attribute that to rampant crime brought on by Inner City Blacks who aren’t in jail where they clearly belong. We see crack-addicted prostitutes and fatherless children and women in belly shirts screaming at their exes on Jerry Springer and we attribute that to the moral decay of the sanctity of family and motherhood, and tell ourselves that women were better off in the kitchen, where they clearly belong. We hear stories of rape and the first thought that enters our minds is, ‘what did she do to provoke it?’ And when we see women or men walking hand in hand with members of the same sex, we automatically look away in disgust, because we know they’re wrong to be acting that way.

I call Bullshit. On all of it. Every bit of it.

We’re all people, folks, and we all have the same needs and motivations, whether we’re rich or poor, short or tall, black, yellow, brown or pink, fat or thin, male, female or somewhere in between. We all need love, security, acknowledgement, family, safety, healthy food and clean water, and adequate shelter over our heads. The rest is just genetic lottery, and that means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

And all of this started with women fighting for their right to speak in public assembly. We owe women a lot. And we can show our appreciation by not trying so damned hard to take it all away. We have to learn to speak up when someone says something stupid that adds to the Totality of World Suck to strip away rights. We forget that the world is good at that. It’s the natural order of things for one ruling class to subjugate all around them. Don’t think that, just because it’s natural for one class to dominate, that it’s right. We forget that the Entitled are never happy to have to share the power, even when they’re smiling and signing bills to protect some minorities’ rights.

For smart people, we’re pretty thick.

You can fix this, you know. Speak. Share. Remember. Think.

Your Uncle Eddie.

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