Today, I read yet another female journalist defending Joe Biden. In the San Francisco Chronicle, Leah Garchik writes: “I’m thinking we might give the old guy a break.”
Why do we have to give him a break? He’s running for president. Is it so much to ask in 2019 to want a leader who understands sexism? I don’t care if Biden is a good guy. I don’t care what his intent was in touching Lucy Flores or Sofie Karasek all the other women he smelled or kissed or hugged.
I’m sick of explaining sexism to men. Especially to powerful men. I don’t want to do it anymore. It takes up an enormous amount of time and energy. Not just mine, of course, but the energy of so many women. What would our lives be like, what would our country be like, if we had a leader who understood sexism, who just got it? What would happen in this country if women could spend time and energy actually fixing the problem of sexism instead of trying to convince someone that a problem exists?
Sexism is the water we all swim in.
Garchik argues: “Of course, a guy should be attuned to response when he’s overly huggy (or kisses the top of a head, rubs noses), and should cease and desist at the first signs it’s not welcome.”
Here’s the problem with that. Women and girls are trained to accept men’s hugs just like we are trained to laugh at men’s jokes. When we feel uncomfortable, we think the problem is us. We minimize the ick factor just as Biden is minimizing it now– making jokes and not saying he’s sorry.
What if women in America were just used to being taken seriously? What if that was the water we swam in? What if we were accustomed to attention from powerful men in the form of hand shakes, respect, and being looked in the eyes?
I used to produce talk radio programs and I had to explain to the liberal/ progressive male talk show host I worked with that defining someone as fiscally conservative but socially liberal was rooted in sexism. “Women don’t compartmentalize like that,” I told him. “If a woman doesn’t have reproductive rights, everything is affected: her health, her economic status, and her education, every issue.” When he told me that he’d never thought of it like that, I decided to write an article and after it was published, I got a call from Kamala Harris who was a deputy DA in Alameda County. She thanked me for writing. She told me she spends so much of her time just explaining to people that reproductive rights don’t exist is isolation but effect every aspect of women’s lives.
Kamala Harris thanked me for telling the truth. I want a president who can do that because only she is ready to change the world.