It’s essential that the power structure look like all of America
My friend L and I were out with a male friend, Bob (a lovely, thoughtful man) at midnight.
(I know. It was very odd. We were at a party. With other people. I didn’t even know how to act.)
We were driving home from the party and saw a woman jogging.
Me: Holy smoke she’s running at midnight!
L: Yeah but look at the size of that dog with her.
Me: Oh, right.
Bob: What do you mean “the size of the dog?”
L: There’s no way she’d go running after dark without a big dog.
Bob: What? That’s nuts! Of course she would.
L, Me: ??????
Bob: Why wouldn’t she?
L, Me: Because it’s not safe!
Bob: Why not?
L, Me: BECAUSE IT’S NOT SAFE FOR A WOMAN TO BE OUT ALONE AFTER DARK.
L, Me: What world do you live in?
In The Authority Gap: Why Women Are Still Taken Less Seriously than Men, and What We Can Do About It, Mary Ann Sieghart talks about systemic sexism and how women are diminished and discounted in public life. To overcome that, it’s important for women to be part of the groups that make decisions.
What’s really interesting about representation, though, is that there needs to be more than one woman in that group. If there is only one woman, the group and/or institution feels like it’s done its part to overcome sexism, but the lone woman is often pressured to go along with what the group (ie, the men) wants anyhow.
Sieghart talks about the women who go along with the sexism. Sometimes, it’s the group pressure.
Sometimes, it’s Queen Bee syndrome (there’s room for only one woman in the space).
And sometimes, it’s the patriarchal bargain, a concept I had never heard described with that term but understood immediately when I read what Sieghart had to say:
….to get along in a system with rigid gender rules, women will disadvantage their group identity or interest to get what they can out of the system individually. In the case of Republican women, the patriarchal bargain has a lot to do with relying on men for economic resources and male validation.The Authority Gap, Mary Ann Sieghart
I remember the Clarence Thomas hearings and how so many men discounted what Anita Hill said.
Every single woman I knew at the time had a similar story. Every single one.
We all had been sexually harassed at work.
Every. Single. One.
I can’t even begin to understand what it’s like to be Black in this country (although I am not confident at all that Thomas will ally with Jackson to protect Black interests), but I do know what it’s like to be a woman. And it wasn’t until we had women fighting for other women that sexist laws and institutions started to change.
(Have you watched the two movies about Ruth Bader Ginsburg? “RBG” and “On the Basis of Sex” are both excellent.)
Maybe with three good women on the court now (Barrett undoubtedly has struck the patriarchal bargain), we will see women’s interests protected.