One for the Ladies...
"Different Perspectives" Carlsbad, California 2016
I was raised with four sisters, two older and two younger than me. When girls are your only playmates and by default your best friends growing up as a boy you tend to view them as complete equals. You defer to them, challenge them, fight them, love them, and without any prejudice to the fact they have a single different chromosome than you.
When I came to California to attend art school I remember my female classmates talking about other guys in our class being sexist and misogynistic, and I was mystified by this. I remember thinking that maybe my girlfriends where simply using those terms to easily belittle guys they just didn’t get along with. Later, when I went to work on shows like The L Word and Desperate Housewives, which were made up of large casts of women, I remember females on the writing staffs I worked with, once again, talking about misogyny and sexism but this time in Hollywood. And, once again, I secretly questioned whether their complaints were valid or if maybe they were just assigning those terms to persons with whom they simply didn’t see eye to eye. I never really suspected that any guy could truly see themselves as better than a woman or stronger or smarter or more deserving of success because in all honesty, I never saw myself in that respect to any woman. If anything, to me, women were so much more superior than men because over and over growing up I witnessed their brilliance via my sisters and mom while simultaneously finding myself mostly appalled by the behavior of the men who surrounded me.
And so the story went of my blissful unawareness of sexism until quite recently, when I started working for an MTV show with a writing staff composed almost entirely of women. In a lot of ways being around a table of some of the most talented, hilarious, charming, and open women I’ve ever known was just like being back on the farm with my sisters and mom. It felt great. But these women hadn’t been raised in the bubble my sisters and I had known. And when I heard their stories about inequality, for the first time I really started to get how alive and well misogyny and sexism actually are in America. I think this new realization became so stark to me also because we were all working together during the period of time when gay marriage was being challenged throughout the states, and I heard story after story of homophobes who didn’t believe they were homophobes but who simultaneously were anti gay marriage. That just didn’t make sense to me. How could you be anti gay marriage but proclaim that some of your best friends were gay and you loved them? The way I saw it, if you loved someone, if you truly cared about their well being, you didn’t see them as less than you - you certainly didn’t see them deserving of inequality. In fact, if you loved them, you would want them to have even more of everything than you. One of the first rules I learned as a child was: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Yet, even in my own family - my own sisters - whom I would have given my life for didn’t see me as an equal or worthy of the rights they enjoyed as heterosexuals. Even my own mother, whom I worshiped as one of the most amazing people in my life, saw me as less than deserving of the treatment heterosexuals receive in this country. Homophobia, I could understand because I had witnessed it first hand, seen it in action, and had been figuratively stabbed in my heart by it. But, sexism I couldn't comprehend, and I was in many ways in denial about. Thing is, just because I didn’t have a sexist bone in my body didn’t mean that sexism didn’t exist, and I suddenly realized when I stayed in denial of sexism, I was behaving no better than all those people who said they loved gays but didn’t vote for their equality or see gay rights as necessary.
In the moment that I could finally pull my head out of my ass and put myself in the shoes of all my female friends, I was blown away by the sexist inequality I instantly began picking up on everywhere I looked. In fact, the reason I’m writing this blog post now, is because I’m shocked by the sexism I am witnessing on a day to day basis with regards to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. And I’m awestruck by the way this incredible female perseveres against a double standard laid bare against her from the news media, republicans, democrats, and even so many women in this country. Imagine if Clinton was divorced even one time? Imagine if she’d had even one bankrupt company? Imagine if she walked around with unkempt hair or a bad tan? Some people say she’s calculating and has made enormous policy mistakes in the past. Damn straight she’s calculating. Any woman in this world has to be calculating to get ahead because, believe or not my friends, this is still very much a man’s world and you’ve got to be tougher, smarter, and more thoughtful than any man in order to move up the rungs of power even in the most liberal areas of our nation. As for policy mistakes - as Clinton often claims - she was doing the best she could with the information she was given at the time at which she was forced to make certain decisions. Anyone who has worked their butt off in any job for fifty years has without a doubt made mistakes, but those mistakes are what give you the wisdom to make better choices in the future. And that is what Clinton does now. Even her campaign is a completely different animal than it was when she ran for president back in 2008. She’s learned, and more importantly, she’s pliable enough to keep learning. And yet this unbelievably brilliant woman whose credentials and resumé make her more qualified than just about anyone to run the United States of America, is still facing an uphill battle against opponents who, if any of them were women, would have been shown the door a long time ago.
Now, I want to make one thing clear - this isn’t a piece of writing to get anyone to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton. It truly is not. People need to vote for who they need to vote for based on what they believe will be best for them and the ones they love. But I do challenge anyone reading this to open their eyes to the fact that sexism is alive and well in America just like racism and homophobia are. The illustration of the sexism playing out against Hillary Clinton is just an example that is staring all of us in the face, right now. And it’s quite clear to me from the public discourse that so many people don’t see it, or don’t want to see it. And just like the election of Obama opened dialogue about racism, I hope for the sake of my sisters, my mother, and all the amazing women in my life, that Hillary Clinton's run for President will open a dialogue about sexism — a silent crime against those who are the life givers of this planet in so many ways, a crime that has been swept under the rug for far too long, and once and for all, needs to be exposed and eradicated in order for our planet to reach and exceed its vast human potential.