At first, it sounds empowering, it’s a woman to woman CEO winning relay. How often does that happen? Well, Never! Fortune.com reports:
Anne Mulcahy, who last decade turned Xerox around and last year turned over the CEO reins, today gave up the chairman title to Ursula Burns, her CEO successor. It’s all quite historic since Burns is the Fortune 500’s first black female CEO. Theirs was the first-ever woman-to-woman CEO hand-off in the ranks of America’s largest corporations.
The bummer is, of course, the female CEO switcheroo keeps the gender CEO stats of Fortune 500 companies in their exact same pathetic state at 3% female. Robin Marty reports on www.Care2.com:
Women CEOs lead in only 15 of the 500 companies, or 3 percent. Even worse, there was no gain in female leadership since last year; for every woman who entered the list, another was lost.
Here are some facts about American women, who make up 52% of citizens in the country of the free and the brave and 46.5% of our labor force.
Women hold 15.2% of seats on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.
Women are 19% of partners in law firms.
Women represent 17% of the United States Congress.
Throughout our history only three women have held the office of Supreme Court Justice.
There are only seven female governors.
Women make up 14% of all guest appearances on the influential Sunday television talk shows; among repeat guests, only 7% are women.
Only 15% of the authors on the The New York Times best seller list for nonfiction are women.
Only about 20% of op-eds in America’s newspapers are by women.
In Hollywood, women make up:
8% of all writers
17% of all executive producers
23% of all producers
18% of all editors
2% of all cinematographers
I’m so tired of people acting as if we live in some postfeminist era, as if we’ve achieved equality, and everything is groovy now.
Sadly, people take sexism even less seriously than racism, often attributing gender crimes to cultural beliefs instead of the political practices they are. When I was in college and everyone was protesting aparthied in South Africa in the quad, in my sociology class next door I was learning that female gender mutilation was just fine because that’s “their culture.” Not only that but “women do it to each other” so it can’t really be sexist. It took me years to undo the relative ethics dogma I learned in my college education in early the nineties.
When I was producing talk radio programs later in that same decade, I wanted the liberal talk show host I worked with to discuss the Taliban. I’d tell him: “It’s gender aparthieid. The laws are completely different for women and men and nobody seems to care at all.”
At that time, one of the only vocal, public figures in America even speaking about the Taliban was Mavis Leno, Jay Leno’s wife. I’m serious. Mavis Leno. That’s how I found out about about the slavery of women across the world, not through my president, other politicians, the New York Times, campus protests or liberal talk show hosts like the one I worked for. When I insisted to the host the Taliban mattered, that you can’t isolate those kinds of sick beliefs, he said, “Come on, how does the Taliban affect people in the Bay Area?”
Too often, sexism today is invisible to us, whether it’s too geographically distant or we’ve just become immune to witnessing women treated like objects instead of like humans. In 2010, just naming the enemy, calling it out, seems to be half the battle.
In her new book Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert’s used a Rumpelstiltskin simile which is totally applicable here. Rumpelstiltskin is, of course, the story about a girl forced into slavery, spinning straw into gold. She will only be freed when she can name one of her captors. When she discovers his name and calls it out, he loses his power and sets her free. Gilbert wrote, “Some fears can be vanquished, Rumpelstiltskin-like, only by uncovering their hidden, secret names.”
So today, I’m launching The Rumpelstiltskin campaign: sEXISTs EXIST. Post it where you see it on ReelGirl. Photos welcome. Stickers and signs are here. Logo needed. It won’t end sexism but at least it’s a step towards setting us free.