Monday, September 19, 2016

“She’s Not Doing Enough” and Other Things to Not Say to Me

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I work three jobs. All three of them are superpleasant and I even enjoy my commute, but by the eleventh hour of the day, I’m tired. During that time, there’s this man. He’s on our side and has been friendly and supportive all throughout the election season, until recently. Now, as I head out the door, he always makes the same assertion: that Hillary didn’t do enough over the summer, that she was “Just chilling and letting Trump do his thing.”

We’ve had a great time chitchatting about the election, so much so that I even brought him a poster from the convention and thanked him for all of his support, but I can see how a summer of the misogynist, Trump-drunk news has skewed his view of the proceedings. He keeps saying she never talks about her platform, though many of us can recite it by heart by now. She’s been telling you, I keep wanting to say, but you’re not listening.

As far as I know, this friendly critic isn’t putting in any volunteer hours for the campaign, he’s just sitting back and second-guessing a woman who LITERALLY worked herself sick. I get through these moments with as much grace as possible, but I drive home FUMING over both the personal and political implications. I’m deeply frightened by the way that the news turned him against his own candidate, and VASTLY irritated that I have to hear this feedback in the midst of a long workday.

What makes me the maddest is that he and so many others have been so utterly poisoned by gender restrictions that they can’t see or hear her, no matter how hard she works, no matter what she says or does. Part of our disagreement might be media-choice based, because I get my information from social media, from the campaigns themselves, and from direct experience and he only gets it from the news, but there’s a deeper problem here—it feels like they can’t see or hear her/us no matter what we do because for millennia we’ve been taken for granted, our work has been invisible.

My sister, a full-time mother of five and one of the hardest working people I know, told me this story—she was at a kids’ birthday party and something got spilled, prompting a friend of hers to remark, “Oh, I heard you’re really good at laundry.” Kate was justifiably annoyed—she would probably rather be known for her photography skills or for her Harry Potter Trivia prowess, but it really gave me a chance to appreciate the undervalued work that has been going on behind the scenes throughout all of human civilization. Where would any of us be without people who are good at laundry?

In the public sphere, women run the risk of being just as overlooked. Recently we all learned that the women of President Obama’s administration had to invent a special strategy in order to be heard:

Female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.” –“Obama’s Female Staffers Came Up With a Genius Strategy to Make Sure Their Voices Were Heard”  By Claire Landsbaum

Which is cool that they banded together and shine-theoried it up, but WHY ON EARTH should they have had to come up with a scheme to get our arguably-first-feminist-president to call on them? Men, why can’t you just hear us? (The most recent episode of Call Your Girlfriend makes this point so much better:

One of the things that the “she doesn’t do enough” man in my workday doesn’t see is campaign headquarters, where the volunteers are almost exclusively women. We work our multiple jobs, some of us take care of families, and then we head back out to do the political laundry in hopes of getting rid of the smelliest sweatsock of them all, Trump. We’re not paid to do it, and though phone banking and canvassing is sometimes fun, it is work, and we’re doing it for free, to keep things afloat the way women always have. So don’t ever tell me that Hillary isn’t doing enough, or that any woman isn’t. There are only fifty days left until the election and it’s past time for men to get up off their asses and help us with the chores.

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