How Much Progress Have *Women* Made?

My friend Holly recently shared something from Facebook that she’d thought was hilarious.

“Lor,” she said – she always calls me that – “Remember Howard Cosell?” Cosell was a well-known sports broadcaster in the sixties and seventies, and someone had made a meme out of a photo of him standing between Bruce Jenner and OJ Simpson.

In the meme, Cosell is saying: “I just took a time machine into the future…and you’re not going to believe what happens to these two.”

At the time of the original photo, both of these men were sports heroes.

Bruce Jenner (who has now transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner) was an Olympian, and is the father of Kendall and Kylie Kardashian and stepfather to Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob Kardashian.

OJ Simpson was a football star, and recently released from prison for an armed robbery charge. And – regardless of the verdict – I believe he got away with the double homicide of his wife and her male friend. (Interestingly enough, his defense attorney was Robert Kardashian.)

Who would have predicted how their lives would turn out?

But I digress.

In the 80s I was a devoted student at S.F. State University, majoring in women studies. I was learning about the suffragettes who had fought for us to get the right to vote in 1920, as well as those women who started the feminist movement, like my “sheroes” Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug.

Back then, I studied feminist literature and learned the joy of being an activist.

I marched in the streets of San Francisco and on my college campus to pave the way for equality for women. If I’d taken Howard Cosell’s time machine into the future, I can tell you this: I would have never had predicted that, thirty years later, the Kardashians would be celebrating ten years of their reality show and dominating the airwaves on television.

I’m disappointed that this is the kind of women we idolize and look up to.

Is this really the kind of women we want our girls growing up with and learning their values from?

This is merely my personal judgment, but my own values are strongly based in the concept of women-supporting-women, and I can easily see these women clawing each other for a higher rating or an extra thousand bucks.

I was lucky enough to have an intimate lunch a few years back with feminist icon Gloria Steinem, and at that lunch she talked about how many forward steps we’ve taken as feminists, only to be thrust back in time by things like the housewife shows and the Kardashians.

I would not have believed that the Housewives shows would take up so much airtime, either.

And I would not have believed that – in 2017 – the #metoo campaign would be so prevalent, sharing the spotlight with a domination of allegations about men sexually harassing women and using their power to get what they want – politically, sexually, socially and personally.

Quite frankly, it’s about time.

It’s time for inequality and injustice to be seen in a way that has previously been hidden from the masses.

It’s time for both men and women to open their eyes and see how patriarchy is a setup for failure for both sexes.

And it’s time to stop oversexualizing women in everything from the media to the everyday catcalls of leering strangers.

It is easy to point fingers and throw blame, but that won’t accomplish anything.

I do want to say how disillusioned I am with this time in our history, but also how committed I am – now more than ever – to having a conversation about feminism and the importance of women owning and reclaiming their power.

When women feel isolated in their experience of objectification and harassment, it is difficult to feel empowered. By opening the door of discussion, we discover we are not, in fact, alone. There is strength in numbers, and what once was one voice becomes a rallying cry for justice.

We might not have Howard Cosell’s time machine to know for sure…

…but in another thirty years, I hope we can look back with pride and say, “Wow! Look how far we have come.”

What changes would you like to see in the future regarding equality?
What would you like to see more of? Less of?

Please comment below.

 

One Comment

  • Holly Stiel says:

    Lor,
    We don’t know the future and Howard Cossell sure as hell could not have predicted that Bruce Jenner would become a woman and OJ would be a murderer and a thief when they were at the height of their careers.. What we do have is now and the now we are in is a powerful if disturbing time. I applaud the brave women that are coming forward. This issue is centuries old. It may never be totally gone but hopefully there will be consequences. Without consequences nothing changes, whether in the workplace or personally. If behavior is not condoned or overlooked because it is better to pay people off than have any values ,nothing will have changed, but if people lose their jobs and are publicly shamed maybe they will think twice or perhaps think at all before engaging in depraved behavior. My hope is that women embrace their true nature and we can all remember that we are Goddesses.
    Love you, Holly

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