Thursday Thoughts–A rough anniversary

Today I’m just going to write random thoughts and not put anything in order. Today my gran-canaria-2782172_640blog is my journal, “my diary screaming out loud” like Anna Nalick’s Breathe.

It’s the anniversary of Hillary Clinton’s loss. I found her mail address last week and yesterday I wrote her a letter and I cried during the writing. I talked about my mother and how Secretary Clinton’s run for president was a bright light shining in the middle of the darkness of Alzheimer’s. For a few months talking about her to my feminist mother brought a smile to Mom’s face. And for that, I will always be grateful for that race.

Hillary lost, though, and although I never told my mother–she lost so much mental capacity in 2016 that she could not have understood it, and if she did, what would be the point?–but I sure felt it. Not just because I actually like Hillary (yes, that happens. really. I know you don’t believe it, but it’s true. Some people find Hillary likable, and not all of them are green alien robot women intent upon ruling the world and castrating men) but because of what it meant to me. I lost my first female president, and I honestly don’t think I’ll live long enough to hear Madam President for real.

I remember during that election a lot of people scoffing about women voting with their vaginas. First of all, women do everything with their vaginas. It’s, like, the definition of being female. Also, American men have been voting with their penises since the end of the Revolutionary War. In fact, only people with penises voted for over a century, while vaginas were forced to stay home and hope that the penis crowd would occasionally think about a special concern or two of the at-home vaginas. The vagina crowd had to hope that trickle down White Christian Male identity politics would do some good for them. Yes, I said it. Vagina, penis and called White Christian Males an identity. Because it is and catering to that group is also Identity Politics.

Anyway. Yeah. It hurt. I tried to explain a few times during that primary why wanting to vote for a woman president just because she’s a woman was perfectly acceptable behavior. I wanted to compare it to voting for President Obama, but I didn’t because that’s not fair, and I’m just not going down that road. I didn’t get a whole lot response to my explanations. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I didn’t post a picture of breasts or something and so men just sort of shrugged and walked away.

And that right there is my point. I’d think the Harvey Weinstein thing would make it clearer, but maybe it doesn’t. Here’s the thing–we hear people say stupid, infuriating shit like “Did you see what that woman wore, though? She was just askin’ for it.” I won’t talk about the asking for it part because I will end up throwing my computer through a window and I need my computer. What I do want to say is this–I don’t ever remember being sexually harassed at work. Know why? Part of the reason was I didn’t dress in such a manner that “asked” for that attention. I didn’t move up the corporate ladder either. Know why? I didn’t get attention. Partly because I didn’t dress for it.

Maybe you’re thinking I’m making excuses. Well this is how I know for sure. A “friend” of mine did dress the part.  She attracted the attention of one of our bosses and slept with him, which got her the job I had worked for and fought for. The people in power had to move her to the job I wanted because they couldn’t have a relationship going on between a boss and subordinate. They gave me a “promotion” and moved me out of that group and the building altogether. Only it wasn’t really a promotion. A little pay and absolutely no upward mobility. I got to be next door, though, to the president of the company and the vice-presidents. Oh. The joy. I wanted to write anyway, and we wanted children, so I left to do those two things and to hell with them.

But I was angry at my “friend” for a long, long time. Now  I’m angry with them, those men, and society for teaching women that the way to power is to get the attention of powerful men in any way possible. She shouldn’t have had to dress and flirt to get what she wanted, I shouldn’t have lost what I wanted because she did and neither of us should have been in a position where we had to fight our gender roles to advance.

That was how for women in ’80s.

That’s how it’s been for centuries. Women have a daily thought–how do I dress today for what I want to accomplish? How will I get the attention I need from those in power–who are men–so that I can accomplish that? For many, many years that was in a sexual way, often subtly, because that was the only way to get the attention. A woman had to hope that she could shift the attention to something more substantial, like whatever thing she wanted to accomplish. Sometimes that thing was a survival thing.

And yeah, I chose a picture for this blog post of a woman in a sexy red dress, because that’ll get people’s attention right.

Things have changed over the last 50 years or so. Especially over the last 30, since I was in the male-dominated workforce. Women are more likely to get attention just because they have a Good Thought than when I was an accountant. Still, there’s that thing in our heads. It’s always there even when we don’t know it. “How do I dress so that I can get the attention of men in power? How much sexual harassment or objectification am I willing to put up with so that I am seen and then heard?” You may be a guy who scoffs at that. You may be a woman who is saying “I’ve never thought that!” Fine. It’s there anyway. You don’t have to believe the world is round for it to be true.

I know Hillary gets that. How she answered and still answers that question in her head, I don’t know. But I know she’s been there. I know she understands that, just like I know she understands that hormonal shifts every month are a struggle, but they don’t make women too crazy to handle the nuclear codes (and don’t even go down that road with me anyway, because we gave ’em to Trump who is a walking, talking advertisement for malignant narcissism so we don’t really give a damn about it). Hillary knows that the pushback against birth control is another way to force vaginas into staying home again. Most women know this. Certainly, all women seeking power do. I would have voted happily for another female seeking power because of that understanding (as long as she aligned to a fair degree with my morals and beliefs), even if I didn’t like her. I want a female president. I wanted Hillary especially because, yeah, I like her.

But that didn’t happen. And now I’m listening to Keith Urban’s Female–written by women, btw. Stop saying he wrote it. He said straight-up that he didn’t–and it makes me cry in sorrow and frustration. No, women don’t rule the world. Honestly, we don’t want to. Not 99% of us. We would just like to have equal representation. Many cheered Trump as the common man’s president (cough, cough, cough) and as that being a “change” and a “revolution”. We have never had the common woman’s president. We’ve never had any woman president. That would have been a massive change. Today, I’m wondering how many different kinds of “first” men we’re going to have to go through before that. First gay male president? First Jewish male president? First male Latino president? First male Muslim president. . .

How many first male presidents before we get the first female?

Women don’t want to rule the world. I don’t want to rule the world. I am writing a trilogy  about a strong woman (and that’s her character arc so don’t tell me she’s not strong. I ain’t listening) who doesn’t want to be a leader. It’s not her thing. I wrote it because women shouldn’t have to lead men to be listened to. Women shouldn’t have to dress to be listened to. There are literally millions of wonderful men who make huge, noteworthy contributions to society (like Pulitizer prize winners and Nobel prize winners) who are not leaders. We love them. Can’t we love women for that too? Can’t they be that too? Can’t women be lauded as individual contributors, be strong and WANT A FEMALE LEADER?

Yes. Yes we can. So I wrote a book about that. I wrote a book about women doing kick-ass stuff without caring if they are kick ass. They’re just getting shit done. And I wrote those books with men getting shit done too and my heroine(s) asking guys “what do we do now?” and the heroes asking the women “what do we do now?” I wrote it because that’s how it should be (not the torture, mind you, and wife beating and all the other stuff). In my books men save women and women save men and guess what? Women save each other too and nobody is like, Wow! It’s like, “come on, run, we’re all going to die.” Because I want to believe in a future where equality means never having to consider your gender in your decisions.

Anyway, that’s my ramblings today. Maybe you’ll get something out of it. Maybe you won’t. It’s just my diary screaming out loud. I’m gonna leave you with a tiny little excerpt about women saving women, and warn you of spoilers even though every excerpt is a spoiler because if it isn’t why the hell is it in your book?

Instead of Enforcers, three men in those blue security guard uniforms confront us. Carrying state-of-the-art rifles, they freeze when they see me. Not due to recognition. It’s my hair.

It only distracts them for seconds; it’s enough. I hit the first in the chest before he even raises his rifle. I re-aim and take down a second. The third, though, has had enough time to aim his gun at my head. There’s no way I can move fast enough. I draw in my last breath and pray the shot kills me and that there really is life after death.

Two guns go off, his and Merrick’s. I watch the guard sinks to the floor.

“Hurry.” Merrick pushes past me. Her face is ashy and her lips are pressed together in a thin line. It’s her first kill. It won’t be her last.

No time for compassion, though. Not when we’re literally running for our lives.

A bullet whizzes by me on the right.

“The others are here!” I dodge left. We’re forty-five, forty, thirty-five feet from the elevator. The doors are open and everybody is frantically waving at us. Barratt’s zeroed in on Merrick. We’re maybe thirty feet from the elevator when panic twists his face. Without thinking, I lunge for Merrick as he shouts her name.

I crash into her, shoving her behind an abandoned gurney. It’s too late. The bullet has already found her. She screams, a heart-piercing sound steeped in pain. Then a hundred screams echo in my mind from a hundred executions. I see the blood, smell the fear, and it threatens to pull me under. I crunch down on the mint and fight for sanity.

Meanwhile, Merrick’s gasping for breath, which is accompanied by the explosion of shots fired from both directions. The odor of blood and gun smoke mixes with antiseptic, filling my nose. My stomach turns. When I glance at the elevator, I see Tansy inside, down on one knee, shooting. A quick twist of my head finds the two guards she’s taken out. That leaves three more. I draw a deep breath, aim my rifle, pull the trigger, and then there are two. I’m re-sighting the weapon when a too-familiar burning sears my upper arm. It’s just a graze, but it disrupts my aim. Instead of falling to the floor, dead, the guard grabs for her shoulder. Tansy’s next bullet hits her forehead. The last guard lunges toward an open doorway. Is she hiding or going for cover?

“Neri, now!” Helen yells.

I sling my rifle over my shoulder, flinching at the pain, and reach for Merrick. I note that a dark spot on her tunic is spreading downward. She moans, but comes to a shaky stand and drapes her arm over my shoulders. I wrap an arm around her waist and we stagger toward the elevator.

Another alarm goes off. Flashing red lights and this time a blaring horn. Stefan yells but I can’t hear what he’s saying. Left or right? I go with my gut and pull Merrick to the right. The bullet misses us. Helen, her pleasant face now granite-hard, shoots a couple more rounds off. Reaching the elevator, we lurch through the doors. Piers hits a button, the doors close and we start down.

“How many more,” Merrick rasps as we shift, trying to steady ourselves, “do you think are waiting for us?”

“No telling,” Piers says. I watch the lights overhead. Fifth floor, fourth. . .

The elevator slows down.

“Fuck!” Piers says. I jerk at the use of profanity. He yanks off a card on a chain around his neck and presses it to a reader. The car comes to a halt. We’re packed in so tightly, I can’t raise my gun.

I can reach my stunner. My heart hammers in my chest as the doors open. Three people are waiting there, two men in medical clothes, and a woman in a guard uniform. Her gun is pointed at the floor.

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