Why Women Need to Man Up*!

If I hear one more woman act horrified by what Donald Trump has said about women I am going to lose it...Ladies--toughen up--your great-grandmothers worked freaking hard to get you where you are today. Let's keep going and focus on real issues...Sorry Donald Trump said things about women being fat or hot or the myriad of dumb. Move on. For the sake of your great-grandmother.

This quote has been brought to you by a very smart, very successful, very dear old friend of mine from high school. In the interest of full disclosure, before I go on: yes, she is white and from a privileged background, just like I am. We never had to worry about having roof over our heads, or food to eat, or being exposed to violence in our homes; there was no question about whether or not we could attend college if we achieved in high school.

Ironically, women who did NOT grow up in the berth of safety we did are much more likely to not give a damn about Donald Trump's idiotic, blatant sexism. They have much bigger fish to fry--when you are working overtime to barely meet your basic minimum standards of survival, things that a foolish billionaire may or may not be saying tend to roll off your back. It's those of us whose needs are being consistently met that have got to MAN UP about it!

Truthfully, although Donald Trump's views on women are obviously abhorrent, I prefer his brand of brazen idiocy to the more insidious and institutional forms of sexism that are so naturally a part of our day to day lives that we hardly even notice them. I read an article recently that accurately pointed out that Hillary Clinton is frequently criticized for not having her husband's "charisma"--the same charisma that apparently makes him so appealing to women who aren't his wife. And while he publicly humiliated her by cheating on her and LYING about it, she is the one who gets called "untrustworthy". It boggles the mind, truly. "Some people claim that there's a woman to blame" seems to be the answer to every question, even now.

The manipulation of images of women also remains an incredibly dangerous and mostly unchecked societal danger. It is no longer enough for models to be beautiful and fit; computer programs now must make them seem as supernatural, god-like, unattainable visions of perfection. One young woman, as an experiment, posted pictures of herself without makeup on the internet; she is genetically very beautiful but suffers from an unfortunate skin condition. The cruelty and viciousness of the comments she received were staggering--Trump-worthy. Then she applied her makeup and posted new images. These were accepted with a good deal more praise and support...and yet still, some brutal attacks. For wearing too much makeup--"Respect yourself, you damn slut"; for "false advertising". This is the definition of "damned if we do, damned if we don't".

Women are sexualized in film, TV and advertising to an alarming degree; the argument that "sex sells" has become so ingrained in our culture that it barely even registers anymore. However, the backlash against this has been somewhat misguided, in my opinion. For example, if a woman chooses to dress provocatively--let's stereotype this as short skirts and cleavage revealing tops--this is NOT an invitation to physically or verbally harass her and is empirically NOT an excuse for rape or assault. But yes, it is an invitation to notice her sexuality. Just as a man who highlights a nice form is inviting admiration for it. There is nothing intrinsically WRONG with human sexuality or the expression of it.

HOWEVER--and I've heard all the arguments against what I am about to say ad naseum--if a woman dresses in a way that promotes her sexuality, she is not allowed to be offended that she has in fact provoked any appropriate sexual response. What is an "appropriate" sexual response? Admiring looks, compliments, respectful invitations for interaction if she is single (i.e. "dates"). None of this is harassment, ladies. It used to be called "courtship" but I guess most of that is done online these days. Speaking of which; if you post a profile pic that is all cleavage? Don't be offended if the boob men come out of the woodwork to respond to that. You are perfectly entitled to feel proud of your mammary glands, but if you promote them over your mind, heart and soul, you are going to attract a very different sort of fellow than a woman who doesn't. And you aren't allowed to feel sorry for yourself about it, either.

This is what I mean when I say that women need to "man up"...there are so many forces at work against us but IT'S TRUE that our great-grandmothers FOUGHT for the rights and privileges we have today; whether as suffragettes, or immigrants making a life in a new country against the odds; or as an oppressed minority struggling to overcome the blight and stigma of racism...we've come a long way. But there are miles to go before we can rest and we need to focus on the important issues and fight for education, women's health initiatives, equal pay, etc., and not get distracted by bozos like Trump or asserting our "right" to wear a micro-mini in the workplace and still be treated with respect.

Yes, the double standards we are up against remain legion...in thinking about what women wear in the workplace, I couldn't even come up with an example of what it would look like for a man to dress in a sexually provocative manner...would his fly be unzipped? And this proves the larger point that men are NOT sexualized in society and have no stigma to push back on. Again, sexuality is an important part of the human experience but NOT a productive or necessary part of most workplaces; so let's respect that by dressing the part of a worker--men do. Let's stop buying magazines and investing in products that encourage the belief that "perfecting" our looks is a worthy goal; most men don't feel the need to look perfect, quite obviously. Let's stop getting hysterical about what morons like Donald Trump are saying about women; I guarantee smart men aren't listening to him and dumb men are dumb men. No fix for that.

We are women and we are powerful; let's stop apologizing for it--men don't. We have a right to maintain control over our own bodies, whatever that means to us and we MUST STAND TOGETHER against any movement, party or candidate who doesn't agree. We are allowed to express our beauty and sexuality in a way that feels safe and empowering to us; we are NOT allowed to impose our sexuality on people or environments where it is not welcomed or invited any more than a man should be. We are women...mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, lovers, fighters, workers, soldiers. We are indispensable vessels, creators, partners, visionaries. Let's work together towards the day when men are told to "woman up"--*be yourself unapologetically but with compassion for all.