Lesson 630 – Hear me roar

A few weeks back on a marketing blog, I wrote a post about how “Bic for her is not for me.” In the post I talked about current politics and how women were being marginalized in this election (reference the “legitimate rape” and “women can stay home with their families instead of work” statements, to name a few) and how this attitude was now being reflected in marketing.

Bic for her pens are pastel pink and purple colored pens that are slimmer (for our delicate hands, no doubt) and which write in PINK AND PURPLE ink!!! Seriously, someone at Bic headquarters actually said and convinced the marketing people that GROWN women would like to write with Barbie writing utensils when they sign contracts, reports, or even when they write their novels.

Well not this woman. My man-sized blue gel pens work just fine, thank you very much.

I see a disturbing trend and it frightens me to no end. Women are being marginalized and demeaned in politics and now it slipping over to our main culture. Pretty soon my daughters are going to think that there is nothing wrong with making grown women look (and act) like little girls, or have a country where medical decisions are made for them with the belief that someone else knows their values, life, and medical conditions better than they do.

This weekend I went to a local political event (I live in NH remember) where a panel of women were talking about women being leaders. The name of the event was “Natural Woman, Natural leaders” and it was hosted by Carole King (yes THE Carole King – who has always been a personal hero) and consisted of Gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassen, 2012 Project Mary Hughes; Executive Director NH Women’s Fund, and Congressional candidate Carol Shea Porter. President for the Center for American Progress Neera Tanden served as moderator.

It was all very civilized. “We need more women in government. We need more women as leaders.” Blah, blah, blah.

What I didn’t hear was the outrage against the current political and cultural assault against women.

So when the question and answer time began, I stood up first and said exactly that. I talked about how in politics and religion we seem to be going backward with regard to women’s right (which was pointed out several times during the evening to really equate to human rights.)

How unbelievingly we were being told what our roles are to be in society whether we agree or not.

And how the culture is starting to pick up on this thinking that it is okay to expect women to use the pink and purple, more delicate pens. Today pens, tomorrow who knows?

The problem is that women are too damn civilized, I told the panel. It’s the reason John Kerry lost the election, instead of fighting back at the Swift Boat attack ads, he simply thought that intelligent people would *know* that  the statements were false and so he took the high road of not dignifying the attack with a response.

And he lost.

If this assault on women continues and we remain quiet, we will also lose.

It is only with an organized, sustained and collective outrage that our point will be heard. Although we need to be diplomatic, we also need to point our fingers at the big guys’ chests and say “How DARE you talk about me that way! How DARE you invent that kind of a future for my daughters!!”

The panelists returned with a measured, intellectual response of how things are changing for women, that that’s exactly why women have to get involved in politics. Blah, blah, blah.

It’s the same kind of Democratic high road stuff that sinks elections and in this case, could very well sink the future of women’s rights in this country. It’s the thinking that intelligent people, truly intelligent people will know better and will not “fall for this”

Well guess what? If even the most outrageous lie is told again and again, people are going to start believing it.

To say that I was disappointed with the response is an understatement. There was no fire, no outrage, instead there was more civil discourse. But when you are pitting yourself against the biggest bullies in the playground, “fancy talk aint’ gonna get you nowhere.”

But then an amazing thing happened.

One by one, members of the audience referenced my remarks in their questions.

“Why is it that the Democrats never fight back?”

“Why aren’t women united about this topic?”

“Where are the young women in this audience? Why aren’t they concerned about their rights?”

“Where is the outrage?”

And after the panel, many women came up to me to tell me that I was spot on in my remarks and that they also fear a very different future for women.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

At the end of the event, Carole was at the back of the room signing her book. When I got up to her in line, she recognized me from my remarks and we exchanged a few words. I asked her to write something special in my book and she very willingly agreed. This what she wrote, making her one of my most favorite people in the entire world.

Look, I have kids. I try to be careful about what I say in public because I know that words and actions trickle down. But you know what? I can’t be quiet about this one anymore.

I have two young daughters and it is their future that is at stake. I need to speak up for all of the members of my flock, wherever they may be. I have finally decided that I’m mad as hell on this topic and I’m just not going to take it anymore.

Hear this natural woman roar.

18 Comments

Filed under Backyard Chickens, In the News, Inspiration, New Hampshire, Politics in New Hampshire

18 responses to “Lesson 630 – Hear me roar

  1. Rich

    Pink pens is a pretty silly debate if you ask me. Don’t focus on giving up female traits, but put more focus on knowing how to lead a team through competence … this coming from a husband of a corporate VP of Ops and father who has a daughter as a doctor. (that said, I suspect both of my women know when to write in pink and when to stick with blue and black)

    • Wendy Thomas

      Rich,

      I think you may be missing my point. I’m using the term “pink pens” as a symbol of the future of women if we don’t stand up and makes our voices (and votes) heard. And yes, I agree that includes also taking on leadership roles.

      Wendy

  2. Lucy

    Wendy, you rock. Keep doing what you’re doing, saying what you’re saying & keep roaring!

  3. YES!
    I’m so glad I clicked on this link in my twitter feed while reading my morning coffee. We need more outrage. Thanks for sharing your inspirational post.

  4. Suddenly Jamie (@suddenlyjamie)

    Wendy,

    I SO wish I was there to see you in action. You never fail to amaze and inspire me. I’m right with you. The “pink pen effect” is an insidious and manipulative trend that is anything but an accident. You know I don’t go in for politics much, but more and more I’m feeling that outrage you wanted to see from the panel. It’s difficult for even a sideline participant like me to miss the dangerous overtones of the words, actions, legislation, and now – as you observe – popular culture.

    I’m also the mother of a daughter. I also have great concerns about her future – her ability to do and be who and what she wants, without having to clear hurdles of archaic prejudices and foolishly resurrected beliefs about what women should and shouldn’t do. It feels sometimes like we’ve been duped into a false sense of security, but it’s all been nothing but a mirage designed to pacify.

    The truth is that women are strong. Women are smart. Women are perfectly capable of leading. There was a day when God was a women. There was a day when there were as many female elders – respected and revered – as there were male elders. It is only in recent centuries that women have been deemed unfit, unstable, and – most frightening of all – unnecessary.

    I’m just getting my feet wet with all this, but I agree that it’s time to take off the gloves. I hope that there are some women out there in leadership positions – political or otherwise – who are willing to stop with all the nicey-nice and call a spade a spade.

    Thanks, Wendy, for standing up and speaking out … and for sharing your thoughts here.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Jamie.

      You’re the best. Thanks for your comments. I know that we’ve talked about again (and again) and I know that we both share concerns about our daughters.

      Women can do so very much but in order to do it, sometimes we do have to get nasty in order to make our points heard.

      I fear that pink pens are only the beginning.

      Wendy

      • Suddenly Jamie (@suddenlyjamie)

        Pink pens – who knows what they could lead to. Must nip this trend in the bud! 😉

  5. Kristin Skarie

    Yes! Thanks Wendy for the excellent post – pink pens are a tangible metaphor for assumptions made about women and what is really needed to include the GREAT questions in the conversations…I think it is all about asking the right questions…thank you! You are a seed planter…hooray for Carole King – love her book signature – thanks for sharing that. I had the pleasure of working with one of your Flock, Spencer, over the weekend at Riv – he is a delight and a leader on his campus to be sure…thanks for modeling the way for him so he can do the same for others….and for me…cheers to you and your Flock! Kristin

    • Wendy Thomas

      Kristin,

      Welcome to the flock and thank you for your kind words. Spencer is a wonderful person whose compass runs true. He understands the power and strength of women and works right alongside us (he’s an intern at the Hassan campaign) in order to make positive change. He will make a difference in the world someday.

      Thanks for sharing your time with him.

      Wendy

  6. Amen sister! Love this and I am outraged, but sometimes I’m outraged into paralysis. Think the answer is in local govt…I once went to a debate where the male state senator candidate “protectively” put his arm around and rubbed the back of the female candidate and then tried to speak up and interpret “what she was trying to say!!!!!”. I don’t blame him he trivialized an opponent, gret tactic. I blame her smack his hand away and tell him to shut up; you’ll do your own talking. Didn’t vote for either.

  7. Nancy Beach

    Atta, girl!! Well said.

  8. Denis Superczynski

    Well done, Wendy! As a man/husband/father it has been excruciatingly painful to witness the lack of strong, forceful pushback on these issues by people in our society. It has been more painful to watch what I perceive to be the lack of effort put forward by women to actively oppose regressive ideas championed – mostly – by men. Every time an election cycle rolls around that features a candidate or legislative agenda hostile to women I tell my wife that if women do not show up at the polls in great numbers to oppose such nonsense then I too will stop putting forward a significant effort regarding these issues. We are raising two young men – teens at the moment – who will go out into a world that the electorate is shaping NOW. We are teaching them that women – in all ways – are their equals and they have internalized this philosophy. The continued sleepy response by women and men to the organized attack on the human rights of females may result in a world in which my boys are metaphorically ‘pissing into the wind’. I surely hope that is not the case.

  9. Tami

    well said. i can’t believe after all this time has past some of the same issues are being brought up again and again. I feel as if people are so put off towards politics in general that they don’t know what is going on anymore. I had a teacher friend ask me if some of the people running for office really didn’t think kindergarten was a good idea…I said, yes, really, they do believe that.

  10. shocksystems

    Wendy – Are you suggesting that women who would do this are allowing themselves to be marginalized? Isn’t it possible that a grown, empowered woman could enjoy writing with a pink or purple pen? It feels like you are making a value judgement about what is legitimate for women to enjoy and what is legitimate for Bic to offer to women. Jim

    • Wendy Thomas

      Jim,

      No.

      If a woman wants to write with a pink, purple or even baby blue pen, that’s fine. It’s not the actual pen or color of ink that I object to. It is the marketing down to women, the re-imaging of women as little (weaker) girls.

      Toys are different for young boys and girls. Typically boys have blue colored toys and girls the pink or pastel ones (just look at what was done with Legos). The playing field becomes a little more even when those children become adults. At that point, we essentially all start playing with the same toys.

      But now we have marketers (picking up the messages from political and religious leaders) who are starting to now separate the men from the women by creating softer, pinker, prettier (and let’s face it, weaker) things for the “fairer sex” (who gosh darn it, don’t need to worry about big strong men’s pens) and who are creating tougher, stronger, more manly items for the men. It’s not just the pens that worry me, it’s the patterns that I see emerging in our culture that are shifting the balance from that of relative equality to one that is greatly out of balance.

      As I said in my post, today it’s pens, tomorrow who knows? I see this as a potentially harmful trend that could lead us all down a slippery slope unless women speak out about it and voice objection.

      Wendy

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