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Sexism, Remembered and Forgotten (November 17, 2017)
- Amid an extended, international discussion of sexual misconduct and female confession, it has occurred to me that sometimes it can be difficult for women to understand one another’s pain. We are often told that experiences of oppression are actually the result of the supposedly overwrought emotional set point of womanhood, a pressure that compels us to keep our stories to ourselves — or, in the worst of cases, to look upon each other’s stories with excessive scrutiny, behavior prescribed by the poison of internalized misogyny.
- For many of us, living under the Trump administration has cast everything into sharper relief: It’s as if we’ve all been given fancy polarized sunglasses with which to more clearly see the fault lines of the patriarchy. It’s no longer possible to ignore what was there all along.
- It occurred to me how very tired I sometimes feel as an outspoken feminist. ... Trolls are trying to silence women, and I've installed a fiery declaration within myself to never give in, but it's incredibly hard, and gets harder as my platform as a writer grows. What didn’t occur to me initially is that West has spent years in the trenches fighting this endless, thankless fight, and maybe she needs a goddamn break. I had this revelation again, much more profoundly and emotionally, about my own mother while watching Greta Gerwig’s new film, Lady Bird. ... Often, my mother and I clashed when she denied me freedom, but only because she had been harmed by the dangers she knew lay ahead for her daughter. I did so many risky, awful things, and then lied to her about them, because I never felt I could be honest with her. I should have known she wasn’t judging me. I should have known that she had done it all before, that even though she wouldn’t have used the word "feminist" to describe herself at the time, mostly she just didn’t want me to have to be so very tired. ... Walking home from Lady Bird on the kind of night that New York fall fantasies are made of, I resisted the urge to call my mother, because I thought I might cry until the universe ripped apart at the seams. But then I called her anyway. I sobbed as I told her I had no idea how impossibly hard she had been trying.
- For this manifestation to be as forceful as it possibly can, we have to work to find solidarity in each other’s stories, as differing as their inciting perspectives may be. The patriarchy sands out the edges of our rightful infuriation, making it harder to see in any light but our own. This blindness is part of what denies us community-forming solidarity and part of what has allowed widespread sexual assault and harassment to continue for so long. The sinister idea that there is a limit to the total number of accusations of "sexism" that society will bear has made us trend toward the egotistical in our understanding of oppression, but it is happening to all of us, and it is happening all of the time.
- Understanding the total impact of the patriarchy on the female experience is endlessly elusive. ... It is a constant process, perpetually blurred by the ebb and flow of so many epiphanies clouded by self-doubt.
- I know I will almost certainly forget it all again, but I hope next time, I will be able to recall quickly. For this moment to become a movement, we have to keep trying to remember.