These have been an interesting couple of weeks in the news. Between the implosion of the White House and shootings at the GOP baseball game and one at a UPS facility, there is undoubtedly a lot of tension, fighting, insecurities, and survival mode in the most self-seeking, self-incriminating, destruction-of-humanity kind of way.
We have seen people fight tooth and nail for their right to be right and have seen our good ole’ President sneak his way out of accountability for himself and his cabinet. We have seen his cabinet members creep their way out of accountability while defending him.
We have seen anger, fighting, toiling, and a woman shut up in the Congressional hearing about the Comey firing.
We have seen a backlash against human dishonesty, with politicians and other White House officials backed in a corner with no way out. The inevitable consequences of fighting for a win instead of what is right and humane have come out from hiding.
We have seen a lot of silencing. Specific recent examples are the silencing of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Kamala Harris during Congressional hearings; all done by white males. This leaves me to ask but one question: what is the fear in hearing, actually listening, to these knowledgeable, intelligent, and powerful women speak?
Supposedly Senator Warren was shut up because of rarely used Rule 19, which essentially states that a Senator may be silenced if they impute another senator in an unfair way. Supposedly Senator Harris was being too mean to Jeff Sessions. I know there is a specific code of conduct in politics and political hearings and that is fine. However, I do not buy that was the real reason these two women were shut up.
I have a guess why they were and white male power-grippers might not like it. Oh well!
Let’s take a look at what might possibly be a reason: Harris is a woman of color sitting on the Congressional bench! She is intelligent, powerful, speaks her mind and is it surprising that old, white, backwards-minded men don’t want to hear from her? Warren is a female Senator from a middle-class background and is too de-sensitized to political bullshitting to stay silent in the face of political damage.
Are we really going to act surprised that Harris was shut up right as the investigation is hitting too close to the cabinet’s human wrong-doing and simultaneous political undoing? Let’s look at the facts: Harris hit home too close and like a good ‘ole boy, Sessions decided to not answer her frivolous questions.
It seems to me that perhaps the men who shut these women up got scared they might lose power and look weak by these male-hating estrogen machines. I believe we are all a little scared, on a human-level, of losing our personal power. But, when it comes to the point when equal rights and respect are involved, we need to be able to push our selfish insecurities to the side and see what is right in the name of human respect.
Sessions was indeed left nervous. He was left nervous just like many men were after the first and second feminist waves, not necessarily because they hated women, but rather because their superiority was threatened. The patriarchal structures had been established and fierce women did their utmost to uproot them.
And, we saw the same thing when McCain thought it appropriate to shut-up Harris. It is the same threadbare idea that men are in charge.
And the real question to ask is: When can we stop being scared? When can we let go of the fear that women are planning on taking over the world in the fashion of Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death?
We do not need to run from women who want a voice. They want the same freedoms all people do in our nation. We want to exude our right to free speech, freedom to be who and what they are, freedom of religion, equal work opportunities, and the ability to improve our lives.
What happened to Senator Warren and Senator Harris are two of many examples of the silencing of powerful women. The silencing on the Congressional floor was an act of depreciation of women exerting their intelligence, their voice, and their wisdom in the same space as men.
Hate crumbles underneath us when we are busy pursuing it; and hate has the power to eat us alive. We have seen this since January in the Oval office.
Diet culture, unrealistic beauty standards, and the continuing expectation that women remain quiet indicate larger complications than just inequality and demeaning scrutiny in appearance-related judgements. Women receive the message that although work has been paved to give them equal footing with men, there is still a subversive yet powerful form of patriarchy lurking and waiting to overthrow all progress made towards women’s opportunities. There is still the backwards belief that equality for all is really just a dream for the impractical that permeates at the highest levels.
Can you really tell me this is just how it is? That we cannot say what we want? Dress how we want without fear of scrutiny?
Can you really tell me that it is NOT because men are fearful of what a society in which women act autonomously and without heed to marketers, politicians, and business tycoons who tell us what to do with our body?
Scrutiny women receive at both the collective and individual level show that as we heed our natural rights for access to good education, jobs formerly assumed to be for men, and political voices, stems from a fear that the fabric of society will crumble if women do more than stay in the kitchen. The scrutiny tells us that we can expect to be under a watchful eye as we cater to our desires, passions, and talents and bring them into the world. Women will be scrutinized for their appearance, while simultaneously questioned about the quality of their intelligence.
As in all my blog entries, I do not believe this attitude exists in all men. In fact, I know more men that do not exude these beliefs than ones that do. That probably is because I choose not to be around men that do believe in silencing women, but that is beside the point.
Why are we so afraid? Can we let go of the fear of the word “feminist”?
Can we let go of the fear of what our country and world will look like if we allow differences to just be instead of trying to manipulate them? Can we let go of the fear of losing a status quo power structure? Can we accept that maybe equality for all will really benefit us all?
By all, I mean all marginalized groups. It does not stop at just women, although they are included in that category. A permeating fear of difference has been threaded through American history. You cannot call it anything else. And, it clouds our vision of humanity.
I do not believe the silencing of women on the Congressional floor means doom for women’s progress, but I think they do indicate a continuum of backwards beliefs that old-schoolers still fight for. And, they are dangerous.
Humanity operates when humans help each other.