In a world without men, women would be fat and happy and we would never wait to pee. But we would settle for a world without sexual harassers.
Old (male) friend: I miss Al Franken. I wish he hadn’t resigned.
Me: But – that photo of him, pretending to grab that woman’s breasts!
Friend: But aren’t there so many worse men? And it would be so good to have him in politics now.
Me: There are worse men, yes. My friend R, when she was an associate at an Austin law firm, pushed back on a sexist comment a partner made. The partner answered, “Don’t forget I’m the one who does your performance evaluation.” She found a new job out of state.
Friend (who is a lawyer in Texas): I would never do something like that!
Me: I know, but every single woman my age – every single woman you see here – Mary, Karen, Stephanie – has experienced some kind of sexism and sexual harassment at work. Every single one. So I for one am glad to see the harassers finally getting what they deserve.
Friend: But if we get rid of all those men, there won’t be anyone left!
Me: Did you really just say that if we get rid of all the harassers, there won’t be anyone left?
Friend: Oh. Right!
Me: There will be me. There will be Mary. There will be Karen. There will be Stephanie. If we had power, I don’t think we would do any worse than the harassers.
A few years ago, Mr T was running for the state legislature. He had run for the seat before, unsuccessfully. But this looked like it might be the year.
He announced in November, a year before the election. This, apparently, is a common strategy in the political world: announce early to dissuade others.
He started campaigning in March, which includes collecting signatures for the nominating papers.
(Where we live, a candidate must collect a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. I think it’s like that in most places in the US, which is why I am always so confused at movies where someone decides to run for office right before the election and voila! they’re on the ballot. That’s not how it works, Hollywood!)
In May, a woman announced that she, too, was running.
She was running against Mr T in the primary, not against Mr T in the general.
Mr T was frustrated. This woman was an unknown. She had not participated in party activities. She had not volunteered on other campaigns. She was not playing by The Rules.
We tried to figure out how to defeat her in the primary.
Turned out she and Mr T agreed on all the issues.
If you agree on the issues, then you have to make your campaign personal.
Mr T did not want to go there.
He did not want to make any personal attacks, even personal attacks veiled in nice language.
Then he met her.
“I LIKE her,” he told me. “I don’t want to like her but I do.”
Fitbit started in 2010.
It took them until 2018 to add a period tracker.
(And even then, they didn’t do it right: “Fitbit’s period tracking feature only allows women to log their menstrual cycle if it lasted for 10 days or fewer.“)
In Katrine Marcal’s latest book, Mother of Invention: How Good Ideas Get Ignored in an Economy Built for Men, she talks about Aina Wifalk, the inventor of the walker you see above.
Wifalk was training to be a nurse when she contracted polio. She invented the walker to help herself and others with her physical challenges.
She made almost no money from her invention.
How could she? As Marcal points out, 97% of venture capital goes to men – and that’s a current figure. Wifalk invented the walker in the 60s.
Would a man have invented this same thing?
But how many men do the shopping? How many men do the daily errands? Would men have thought, “I need a basket so I can get the groceries home?”
And if a man had invented it, he could have gotten venture capital and developed the product himself and gotten rich.
It took Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successful challenge of a sexist IRS deduction to start changing sexist laws in the US.
In the nineteenth century, the Supreme Court ruled that women had neither the right to practice law nor the right to vote. In the mid-twentieth century, the Court approved “beneficial” practices by states making women’s service on juries optional and approved Michigan’s law preventing women from working in bars unless a male relative was present when they were working.Harvard Law Review
If these sexist laws did not apply in your lifetime, they probably applied in your mother’s lifetime.
It took a woman to challenge these injustices.
I know I know I know. Not all men are like that. Not all men.
But in general I don’t see men leading the fight to end sex discrimination.
Mr T withdrew from the race so the opponent could run unopposed.
“I agree with her,” he said. “I like her. And I think she has a better chance of getting elected. All I want is to have our views represented in the legislature.”
Let’s try a world where women are in charge, OK?