Last year, I made a post on International Women’s Day (March 8th) that was equal parts hopeful and bitter, still annoyed that GamerGate hadn’t yet died (it’s not totally gone, yet, but is more like those last, few chickenpox that just haven’t realized their time is up) and that a reputable games site had just posted a story calling the existence Chell (the main character from Portal and Portal 2) a “feminist Easter egg.”
I’d like to say that we’ve come a long way in the last year–after all, there’s a woman running for the Democratic nomination on the Presidential ticket! Except that the same woman was up for the nomination four years ago, so that’s not really a new thing at all.
I’d like to say that we’ve made progress in including transwomen, and many people would point to the public “acceptance” of Caitlyn Jenner as evidence, but between Jenner’s own bizarre political stance and the rash of recently passed bathroom laws across the country, I can’t say that, either. Transwomen are being excluded from bathrooms because people (primarily men, by the way) are threatened that someone else who was born with a penis (whether they still have it or not) is allowed in a bathroom with women and they aren’t. (For the record, I’m all in favor of unisex bathrooms with locking stalls for everybody.)
I’d like to say that male-dominated fields are becoming more welcoming to women, but nearly every story and statistic I hear out of STEM and academia about women has to do with harassment, sexism, student bias against female professors and teachers, women being overworked and under-appreciated and (worse) under-paid, and women being told they “just don’t fit in” to a work culture that is homogeneously male (and usually also white).
I’d like to say that Hollywood has done a better job at female representation, and wave the Star Wars: The Force Awakens flag, but then I see the backlash of fans against a woman and a man of color being more prominent than white men; the backlash against a female-dominant Ghost Busters reboot (where the lone woman of color is the “street-wise” one, no less); and the fact that Gillian Andersen had to put her foot down just to be paid the same amount of money as David Duchovony for The X Files.
I’d like to say that society is becoming more equal, but what I’m seeing is that society is becoming more divided between people who claim that the -isms no longer exist and those who are struggling just to have it acknowledged that our institutions in the US (to say nothing of those abroad) are systemically oppressing women and religious/racial/gender/sexual minorities.
I’d like to say a lot of things, but this year’s post is shaping up to be even more bleak than last year’s because I heard the hope last year, and this year most of what I hear is just tired. Women–white, black, Latina, Asian, indigenous, trans, queer, lesbian, bi, pan, straight, differently abled, etc.–are tired of being sidelined, of being under-paid (and then having it denied), of being over-worked, and of being under-appreciated. Women are tired of constantly being interrupted or being told to “lean in” and then being told they are “bossy” or “pushy” or “bitchy.” Women are tired of being told they aren’t “real women” because they dress differently, speak out, are attracted to other women, or happen to have a Y chromosome.
I’m tired. I’m tired of feminism being a niche subject that isn’t talked about in polite or business company. I’m tired of the expectation that because I am female I will be quiet or demure (neither of which, for the record, has ever or will ever happen). I am tired of the expectation that I am physically or psychologically weak simply because of the gender I have been assigned. And I am tired of being angry. I am tired of the kind of anger that is more like hunger than fire because it has been burning for so long, and I am tired of constantly justifying that anger.
Most of all, I’m tired of being tired.