On Being (un)Grateful

Seated Yoga Meditation - mantra

Rebecca Traister has a book out, disseminating the 2008 Presidential election in the U.S. and its beneficial fallout for women.

Mostly it retreads the worn “old lady feminists versus younger women” wars. I am sure you remember. Women of a certain age support Clinton while the youthful and hip females supported Obama. It’s generational twaddle that misses the point on both ends. The bra-burning demo can’t understand the lack of gratitude and reluctance to carry a torch that handed women as many new issues as it alleviated – temporarily – old ones. Younger women, on the other hand, are too complacent and too eager to look at the side-effects of the women’s rights movement as “improvements” when the reality is that we are still as second class as we ever were – our cages are just roomier and furnished with IKEA.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Jezebel interviewed Traister and asked the following:

J: Instead, you write, what ended up galvanizing young women and others around Hillary was seeing how she was treated in the media… It’s still amazing to go back and watch that footage. It’s interesting that these were mostly older guys on MSNBC and Fox, and yet you also argue that there was also sexism among younger male Obama supporters when it came to Hillary.

And Traister rehashed the sexist old codgers at the major news outlets but added this bit about younger men that really annoyed me:

RT: At the time, I wrote about what I perceived as a complicated misogynist vibe coming from some of the young male Obama devotees in the last stages of the primary cycle. I think one of the reasons that I was so struck by it — and this is not to give some pass to all younger men — is that there is such a marked generational change among men. There’s more of an awareness of gender, they’re often raised by feminist moms and working moms. Men who are [at least] used to the idea of equally splitting domestic duties; they’re active fathers.

I had actually come to expect much more from young men. We’re very lucky to live with a new generation of men, and I think our kids will be luckier still. But this was an instance in which some old attitudes seemed to bubble up among younger men.

What?

Why are we so lucky exactly? Men are granting us the rights that were ours all along anyway, and we should be grateful? That men are finally actively raising their own children, picking up a tiny bit of the housework slack and not total douches á la Mad Men? We should be grateful when men behave as though the women in their lives are valuable, smart, and they are damn lucky that anyone so awesome would agree to share a bed with them? Gratitude for what simply should be?

Give me a break.

I’m not going to pat a guy on the head and say “good boy” for doing something he should do without thought.

Like Obama.

Man‘s done so little for women that I can’t fathom any woman voting for him in 2012 without getting in writing how he plans to show his gratitude.

I can’t speak for all women, or any women at all really, but I am done with the grateful. All the “nots” on the list of what should be “givens” for females puts “grateful” in an harsh ugly light, but isn’t that the way of reality?

2 responses to “On Being (un)Grateful

  1. i find her apparent foundation to be a “perceived … complicated misogynist vibe” … and i guess i don’t get it.

    having contributed several years of volunteer board work for reproductive health care organization that also works toward leveling the playing field for women (Planned Parenthood local affiliate), i finally gave up trying to change the world.

    i look to no one – society, feminist writers, politicians – to grant me anything. i take what i need.

    • Taking what we want is the problem.

      We don’t.

      Instead, we’ve tried to change the rules of a game we’re not welcome at and have never been allowed to fully participate in anyway.

      If, as a group, women simply took our equipment and left for a field of our own – men would come around to the idea that their idea of equality isn’t going to work. But we are insecure and vicious. We can’t seem to get past our own superficial and work as one for the common goal.

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