“Nana, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” my eleven-year-old grandson asked.
“Picked my nose,” I answered.
Seriously? What can a child understand about bad things adults do?
If someone asks what life has taught me, I’m not one to spout clichés that promote a positive attitude. Neither will I suggest a “stop-and-smell-the-roses” philosophy. Mine is more the “beware-the-thorns” life view.
Unfortunately, I’ve discovered, we learn best from our mistakes. I’ve certainly made my share. I confused sex with intimacy, betrayed those who truly love me. I’ve also been privy to blunders other women have made. Our mistakes help explain why many older women, if we weren’t feminists in our younger years, certainly are now.
Today I hear young women say, “I’m not a feminist.” As if there’s no longer a need to analyze women’s conditions both globally and locally. Sure, American women today work at jobs held only by men when I was considering career options in college.
Yet I watch movies and TV, read the newspapers. (I want to be clear here: I don’t blame rape and other crimes against women on the behavior of the women themselves.) What I see and read inspire me to share an observation based on my own mistakes and those of other women:
Men benefit when we wear clothes that reveal much of our bodies;
Men benefit when we believe that sex is the path to intimacy;
Men benefit when we drink and lose our inhibitions.
It’s time for a new stage of feminism, one that says I will not live my life according to men’s pleasures.
I hear they’re looking for a strong Ashville woman to head up this year’s Go Topless rally. I just may be the candidate Mr. Johnson’s looking for. But first I want to be sure I understand what he means when he specifies a strong woman.
If men ogling at bare breasts get out of hand, does he want a woman with the body of an Amazon to toss the offender in front of traffic? Five feet tall, I’d have to disqualify myself if that’s the case.
Or does he want someone strong enough to deal with types who would have covered Adam and Eve with fig leaves even before they ate the apple? I’m guessing it’s this group he’s more concerned about, that he’s looking for a woman who can stand up to Bible thumpers eyeball to eyeball and argue back. My husband can testify to my ability to argue.
Surely Mr. Johnson wants someone strong in her commitment to women’s equality, which again qualifies me. That is after all the sole purpose of topless rallies, is it not? No doubt he himself spends hours writing to legislators in support of women making their own health decisions. He’s got to be outraged that the Equal Rights Amendment never passed, and has committed himself to adding to the Constitution, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
As ideal as this job sounds for someone with my qualifications, I’m a little concerned about guns. It’s my understanding that good guys with guns are really into the freedom issue these days. Surely they stay awake nights worrying about how clothes oppress their wives and girlfriends and turn out in big numbers to support women’s freedom whenever it’s challenged. So what happens when only a few feet from the armed men, people quoting the Bible are trying to take that freedom away? Now there’s a potential conflict: good guys with guns aiming at—are they bad men?–—with Bibles. Maybe this is why Johnson wants a strong woman. To stand between these groups of men.
As qualified as I am for the job I’m worried there may be criteria as yet unarticulated. Like, is it necessary for the candidate herself to have a pretty good rack? And a closely related question, is age a liability?