Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's being the mother of a daughter. Maybe it's the fatigue of an eight-month battle to get an equity raise at my day job. Maybe it's all the women at my day job who don't fight—or don't know how to fight or don't know that they need to fight—for their own equity increases. Maybe it's the overly abundant use of similes by sportscasters as they recognize athletic achievement of women Olympians by proxy to the menfolk, or newsy articles giving Aly Raisman a perfect 10 for her hair styling. Maybe it's the overt, relentless and oh-so-1961 denigration Hillary Clinton has endured since her 14-year-old self wrote to NASA about becoming an astronaut, an audacious act by an ambitious girl that earned her a no-girls-allowed rejection on professional letterhead.
Whatever it is, I'm more attuned now than I've ever been to the fact that every single glass ceiling is not only 12 times thicker than the bullet proof glass that will protect Clinton in her presidential limousine come January, but it's made of the darkest tint, too, leaving so many girls and women blind to the bright blue sky of possibility.
My full awakening to sexism has, admittedly, been a slow one. Like all women, I have experienced the overt catcalls, remarks and slurs. I have experienced being talked over, silenced and shamed. I have experienced being ignored, passed over and made small. I have experienced abuse, assault and rape.
I know the stats: White women earn 79 percent of what non-Hispanic men make in the work force; black women make 63 percent, Native American, 59 percent and Latina women, 54 percent.
Like all women, I've adapted for survival. For me, that means I pushed on and organized these experiences in such a way as to not feel it all on the surface. I prioritized and buried it pretty damned effectively in what has probably been more self-preservation than anything else. I mean, I can only be so angry over so many issues at one time.
Since entering my forties, however, things bubbled up and the collective experience became combustible. I have seen and cannot unsee. And let me just say here that I realize my path as a white woman is still less treacherous, more brightly lit than that of women of color. It's truly beyond my comprehension as to how my black and brown sisters maintain daily composure.
For it is the bazillion invisible paper cuts of a lifetime of sexism—plus all those that leave visible marks—that led to my complete and utter exasperation with my husband the other night. He and I have discussed, over the course of the last several years, my newish awareness and all the angst that accompanies me as I navigate the world. And he gets it. He is, by all accounts, a feminist.
He also happens to be darling, smart, thoughtful, celebratory and supportive of women in general, and me in particular. If I want it, he believes I can achieve it and will do anything to help me get it.
If I were to win a Pulitzer, say, he'd be the silent partner in the excruciating process that is writing, encouraging me not to hit CommandkkndAkkndDelete. He'd be the one prodding me to keep my butt in the chair, buying me tissues and wiping my tears. He'd be the one to say, "Speak your mind! Do it loudly! Be fearless!" But he wouldn't want or need to take credit. He'd be the first to write a letter to the editor correcting the headline.
But I digress.
My husband is, by all accounts, a feminist.
But like those of us doing the real work of eradicating any within ourselves, there will be mistakes. Which brings me back to the other night when he was the only man at a meeting composed of two other women and me, each of us with a lot to say and the will to say it. As I drove home, I acknowledged his frustration in having been interrupted several times when trying to weigh in and mentioned that perhaps there wasn't a place for him in a woman-led organization. He complained that he didn't feel heard.
"Welcome to womanhood," I said to him as I flipped a U-turn and parked in front of our home. The coolness of my tone put frost on the windshield that cracked and popped as it entombed the entire cabin of the vehicle.
What followed was a short and quiet argument for which I havenít—and will not—apologize because I am so sick and tired of apologizing. It's really a terrible habit that I share with so many women. Anyway, why should I apologize because I am right? To quote Queen Bey, I ain't sorry.
We have such a long way to go; it's disheartening. This, even as we watch history being made with a woman at the top of our presidential ticket. But as long as men like Pete Santilli can say they'd like to "shoot her in the vagina," and still keep their jobs and their fans and their friends and their sponsors, we are all the way back in the dark ages.