Sometimes I forget how tiring it is to be a woman. Not tired from work or kids, although, from what I have witnessed, that is the first and primary source of exhaustion for women around the world. I’m talking about a different kind of tired, the spiritual exhaustion that comes from living in this Man’s World: the condescension, the mansplaining, the patronizing, and THE WRITING BLOGS ABOUT IT.
The owner of the establishment where I perform comedy told me last week that it’s good that I *smile* because my jokes “need work” (they do need work, because they always need work, but that is not why he said that…which isn’t to say that feedback isn’t important, in which case GUYS, YOUR DICK, PORN, AND MASTURBATION JOKES COULD ALSO USE A LITTLE WORK.)
My father was born in 1944, so just barely missed the hippy era, which, while hardly a socially progressive time, did beat out the 1950’s. He recently told me without the slightest bit of irony that women aren’t as interested in “science.” However, he was never more proud of me than when I performed at The Punchline in San Francisco. After many debates and battles, all of which I lost, I just accept that he prefers to see women as soft, maternal creatures who shy away from loud noises and dirt. He was a divorced Don Draper. He was amazed that I could be a “girl” AND do sports. What I’m trying to say is that — like all women — I’ve lived with in-my-face sexism in for a long time.
I have a better chance of reversing the aging process or time traveling than I do in changing the mind of a white male born in the 40s. I once asked my mom how she dealt with the endless onslaught of misogyny in the world and she said, “You can’t live your life being angry all the time.” I miss my mom terribly, and yet, I disagree with her on a lot. But I wonder if she was right. Yes, you can be angry all the time. But do you want to? Or maybe the question is, do I have the bandwidth?
I recently read this New Yorker article which discusses the effectiveness of protests and seems to conclude the importance of restrained strategy. Rosa Parks’ refusal to sit in the back of the bus was not a spur of the moment expression of indignation, but the next step in a long, patient and calculated step in a united effort to change this country’s unjust laws.
I’m not saying that I’m unwilling to fight. But the injustice will be here for al long time. For right now, I am more interested in the right actions, choosing the right battles, preserving and building my strength and staying sane.