Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The glass ceiling above or the ankle deep muck below?

My husband said to me this morning that this election might be the most egregious example in the history of this country of people voting against someone more than they are voting for someone. His comment got me thinking of whether or not I fit in that bucket. I thought about it all through CNN's coverage of this historic moment when a woman became a major party's nominee for president. I thought of it while they recapped speakers gleefully offering sound bytes about big cracks in glass ceilings.

I've decided that I both do and don't fit in the category of "more against than for."

I am proudly and exuberantly voting against Donald Trump. I am against closet racism thinly disguised as "promoting safety." I am against rampant misogyny that somehow so many women just seem OK with. I am against fear mongering and hate speech. I am against an awful business man with a very pro-business platform lying to his supporters by saying he will fight for them.

Until this morning, however, I didn't realize that I was also a little excited to vote for Clinton.

However, while I do share some hope at the thoughts of finally shattering that glass ceiling above us, I find myself much more excited at the prospect of draining the ankle-deep muck the women in this country must walk through every day.

The glass ceiling is coming down... sort of, but we're also in a very dangerous age for women in this country. Because of all of the Herculean efforts of women in the generation before me, including Hillary Clinton, women nowadays are told they can have it all. We can have the career AND the family, be Mom and CEO. But as the "it takes a village" mentality of child rearing slowly dies, we increasingly HAVE to have it all, and do it without much support. Yep, we can be a Mom, and we can be a CEO, but being both generally means adding a ton to your plate without taking anything away.

I firmly feel that our culture punishes women who try to have it all while expecting them to do it. This is not some vast conspiracy of mustache-stroking evil masterminds sitting around a conference table and plotting how they can keep us down. This is a systemic issue of policies that make being a woman just a bit harder, and a long tradition of a male-dominated political machine that can't change what they will never understand.

In 2016, 96 years after the ERA declared that women are legally the equals of men, there is still a giant wage gap, one which worsens for minority women. You can have it all... but your going to get paid about 80% of what men do.

In 2016, the United States is seeing an increase in maternal mortality, putting us in league with Afghanistan and South Sudan, since they are also on a very short list of places where this is happening. Women are dying in child birth in this country at an increased rate for a late of reasons, but poverty and poor access to health care are on that list. This should be a very real part of the discussion when our politicians try to shut down access to women's healthcare because a minuscule amount of that care comes in the form of abortions. Are you really pro life anymore when you are willing to let poor women die from lack of access to prenatal care? Yes, women, you can have it all... but you could also die trying.

In 2016, we have some of the poorest post partum care in the world. We get ONE post partum visit to our doctors after an incredibly traumatic (yes, natural but also traumatic) event, and then aren't seen for a year. So yes, you can have it all... but your body better bounce back on its own because your insurance company says it should.

In 2016, we are the only developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave. Women in this country are often forced to go back to work before they are physically healed, and definitely before their babies are old enough. So yes, you can have it all... but not for very long, because we are more concerned about the rights of businesses than we are about you and your baby.

In 2016, half of women return to work, either out of want or need, and turn their children over the child care workers who are paid less on average than janitors. Let that sink in. We pay the people who clean our offices and take out the trash more than we pay for the people who care for our children. So yes, you can have it all... but the person caring for your child may be living in poverty while you do.

In 2016, child care costs in this nation are so staggeringly high (despite the fact that we pay our workers less than janitors), that they interfere with families' abilities to afford food and health care. Couple that with the aforementioned pay gap, and single mothers especially have to make choices about paying for quality child care, or health care, or food. So yes, you can have it all... but you may not be able to feed your family while you do.

In 2016, if you have the ability to stay home and care for your new child, you will return and face a well-documented motherhood penalty. If you decide that the lack of paid leave and no access to affordable child care means that it makes more sense for you to stay home, you are then penalized when you return to work. So yes, you can have it all... because we'll punish you if you don't.

In 2016, if you decide that dealing with all of this sounds just awful, you are not off the hook. Whether or not you have children, Brock Turner has taught us all that our bodies are still valued less than a man's future. The Fox News scandal has showed us that our future success may still be dependent on our sex appeal. And if you do fight your ass off to become successful, you'll get paid less for it.

And a candidate for the presidency of this country has shown us that lots of our fellow citizens are simply OK with demeaning women.

In short, yes you can have it all, but it is hard as hell. It is wading through bullshit that is ankle deep on a daily basis.

I am willing to bet Clinton has waded through her fair share of ankle deep muck. Perhaps letting her burst through that glass ceiling will be followed by the slurpy sound of the suction breaking and some of the rest of us getting to pull our feet out as well.

So no, I don't love her. Yes, I am with her. It is time that this country gets more leadership that knows just how fucking hard it is to be a woman in the United States.

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