Why would women knock Women in White?

It has taken me many years to understand how essential solidarity is to womankind. I was shocked, therefore, by a Facebook post about the “Women in White” at the State of the Union address. With the caption, “These women don’t represent me,” it was being liked and shared by women. It prompted me to examine my own attitude towards women over the years.

I understand now how being distrustful and competitive diminishes us. It starts early in life, when girls are exposed to stereotypical “feminine” role models of maven homemakers and fashionistas, and we begin to judge ourselves based on physical attributes, from height to hair color to cup size.

We are assured that we are independent liberalized women, and we want to believe it. Many times, we underplay sexism on the job site; aggressive dating partners; condescending attitudes that portray women as weak if passive, yet “b--ch" if assertive. When I was a younger less confident woman, I took pride in the belief that I was “not like other women.” Why would that be a lofty aspiration, I wonder now.

Women have proven that they can be athletes, business leaders, astronauts, fighter pilots, world leaders. Yet cultural biases persist, suggesting I should view them as other than accomplished, talented, and driven to do their best. I was not a supporter of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Years of background noise led me to distrust her because she was − what − too ambitious? Can that ever be a criticism for a man?

The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing revealed another shocking example of how women can be marginalized by conventional thinking about sexual roles. Many women strongly refuted that the witness was honest; and excoriated her for political motivation. Why was she considered less trustworthy than him from the outset? How have women come to believe that other women would decide to falsely accuse anyone of anything just because they can? We now have two Supreme Court justices who were confirmed despite sexual harassment charges; men who will make decisions about women’s reproductive health for decades.

Those “Women in White” embody a spectrum of age, career experiences, family histories, and socio-economic success stories. As women, they “get it” in many ways that men cannot. They have dedicated their efforts to the cause of serving our country, and legislating justice for all as they do it.

Why would any woman not want them to?

Kathleen Jacques lives in Waterford.

 

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