This afternoon, I caffeinated and (prescription) medicated myself out of my soul crushing migraine, braved the late fall glare of the Southwestern sun and the fluorescent lights of the polling center (thank you, Axon Optics), and voted in the off-year elections. I had, of course, put off looking up most of the bond and proposition issues until the last second, but I don’t spend most of my time on the internet for nothing. Between our local alternative, progressive newsweekly, Alibi.com, and the local traditional newspaper, which tends toward the conservative, the ABQ Journal, I was soon informed and ready to go.
I often vote for the opposite of what the Journal suggests, but city elections are nonpartisan and sometimes I have the choice between good and better choices. I appreciate hearing what the Journal’s reasoning is for their selections. By the same token, even though I’m a progressive and agree with the Alibi 90-95% of the time, they lean very far left and can be uncompromising in their liberalism. Since I believe, as Mr. Metawitches says, that the perfect can be the enemy of the good, I think that sometimes it’s better to get something done, even if it’s not ideal. I’m willing to work with people I disagree with on some issues in order to make progress on others.
This year, I was excited to have the choice between three women who were running for city council in my district. I grew up in an era when there were few, if any, female elected officials, and I don’t think I will ever stop being excited to see women in office. It’s one of my favorite things about the modern world, along with the digitization of music. (My entire music library, in the palm of my hand, weighing a few ounces, instead in vinyl, weighing a ton and taking up a wall! Incredible!) Most of my elected representatives are female right now, and I’m thrilled about it. Albuquerque’s mayor, Tim Keller, is a man, but he’s so cool that I forgive him. 😉
I’m still waiting for a woman to represent our country as president of the United States. I’ve cried both times that I’ve voted for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, in 2008 and 2016. I was moved beyond words to finally vote for a woman in the general elections in 2016.
Representation does matter. I remember when there were no women holding political office, no female doctors, no lawyers. When women were kept in the background of political movements, save for the occasional meaningful action or within our own movement to gain equality.
These achievements have all happened within my lifetime, and still feel like achievements to me. But to my young adult daughter they are normal, just as voting has always been normal to me, even though women fought for decades for the right and some still fight, in this and other countries.
The fight for women’s rights, human rights, animal rights, and the fate of the planet is far from over. We need to keep fighting all of these fights, but it’s essential that women don’t let our own needs for equality, care, and representation get lost. We aren’t men. Our experiences aren’t the same as men’s experiences. No matter how wonderful a man might be, having him fight our battles for us is not the same as fighting our own battles.
The little girls who are watching us, looking for role models and learning what it might be possible to achieve with their own lives, know this. We have much in common with men and boys, but biologically and culturally our experiences differ, starting from a fetus’ gender reveal party, when her parents and others use a different tone of voice around her.
A woman-friendly man is not the same as a woman in office. He doesn’t provide the same much-needed diversity and representation that women provide, including queer women, women of color, impoverished women, etc. He doesn’t have the experiences of a woman growing up and living in a misogynist culture. We need all of the woman-friendly men we can get, but not at the expense of the places that rightfully belong to women.
We make up more than half of the population. We and our children are victims of much more than half of the ills of society. It’s time for us to use our voices and influence.
The easiest way to do so is to vote. After that, there are as many ways to be involved as there are people, from reading the news and talking to other people to running for office yourself.
I hope to vote for another woman for president in the general elections in 2020, when I am 59 years old. The little girl inside me will be thrilled if this time, my childhood dream of seeing a woman in the Oval Office finally comes true. She’s been waiting a long time.
Photo by Mr. Metawitches.