Friday, October 3, 2008

don't wink at me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Okay- I apologize, before I even begin, for the length of this blog. I actually do my best blogging over the sink in the morning while my husband is shaving and I have a captive audience. Poor man.

Now... I well know that what you see depends on where you stand. Can I just name that reality and say that none of us see without seeing from a vantage point. (I have actually considered having a 'secret' blog I only reveal to a few close friends to say what I really see from my vantage point.) In this I am acknowledging my blog is about me, mostly, and secondarily what is on the political stage right now.

I am a woman who has lived in a man's world all my life. My early formation was within a strongly hierarchical family supported by religious conviction and practice that confirmed male leadership. Boys got possibilities. Girls got married. Men had power. Women had men. As a young girl in the middle of a large family devoted to religious views that could not be questioned, I had no power or voice, on any level.

By the time I was thirteen I learned the power of sex. (A quick study on most anything, still.)
By the time I was fifteen I was pregnant. Okay, didn't use the power well. Knew it. Still know it. I had to grow up and learn that although a woman can gain advantage with little girl sexuality or sexy mature woman allure, these are not the ways I want to get my power.

All my life I have been surrounded by influential persons who believe and teach that women have an ordained role in the human story, and I have experienced the repercussions: women in these circles often do not have legitimate voice, do not have their own power. This is not a philosophical debate for me. It is the soil I stand on, the air I breath, the beatings I have taken. (Let me say here, that my Steve is NOT hierarchical and is a champion of my voice and my power. Bless him. Nor, do I believe, is this an accurate or necessary outgrowth of the Christian faith.)

So, a story - A few years ago while in a doctoral program I was in residence for one year with 20 men. I was the only woman. We lived in community and spent most days together learning or traveling. I was constantly aware of the pitfalls of my woman-ness in that setting. Without compromising too much, I worked to be a person in the group - to give and take and not pull the sex is power card.

Then a certain one of the wives of my colleagues would come in. Whether consciously or unconsciously I don't know, she would bounce into our class space for a visit exuding little girl sexuality and flagrant sexual vulnerability. My classmates would melt. The entire dynamics of the room would change as the men changed their posture, their voice levels, their conversation and their focus. Male profs would begin addressing her almost exclusively even as she sat as a guest at the back of the room. It agitated me beyond the telling. I could not go there, and greatly resented the impact she could have by simply being the vulnerable, girlish, sweetheart of the class. Can I say too, this response is not connected to being comfortable with my woman-ness. Exactly the opposite I would say.

Even now, at some point every week I have to choose whether to go to this kind of power or not. I think I am a pretty good reader of what a man might like as far as ego strokes, soothing, or a woman in his presence to make him feel strong and wanted. And every week I choose away from it. I want to be a person who thinks, connects, respects others for who they are, and contributes thoughtfully to any given moment.

And let me say - this isn't about whether or not I am cute. Or the man is handsome. Or young. A woman, using the sexual power card, whether the little soft girl or the fascinating woman, can hook the notice of a man and shift power.
__________________________________________________________________

So last night we watched the Palin/Biden debate. Honestly, I give Sarah Palin credit for her guts. She stood up and handled herself without acting nervous or illiterate. But I have to say, the little girl/sexy woman, wide eyed, conspiratorially winking and almost giggling just made me want to cry. It was demeaning and did not build my confidence in her by any means.

Sarah Palin speaks of things she has learned in "the last five weeks." If a man had said, "I've only been at this for five weeks" the rejoinder would be, "And that, sir, is the problem." Palin speaks of issues like she read them in a book. Or learned them last week. Biden speaks as if he has been there. Which he has.

When a woman plays the little girl sex card it is impossible to be people together. All kinds of interpersonal/ male-female/ power-gender-undercurrents are at play. To do so in a vice-presidential debate is unconscionable. And some people love it. Eat it up.

I am not a hockey mom, or a soccer mom. I was a good devoted mom. I did drive my kids to hockey games. I did sit in a stadium seat with my feet frozen to the floor watching my son try his splendor out. I drove my daughter to gymnastics classes. I have shared a six pack of beer with friends. But I am not Josephine six pack. I am a woman who is a contributing person who wants to be invited to the table to participate in life as a welcome thinker and worker.

To say oh come on kids... don't look at all our trouble in the past, let's just go play on the merry go round and be friends, wink wink. Oh I want to cry. I need more than that from a leader of our country.

This morning I wondered what Condoleeza Rice felt like watching that. She is a woman who enjoys womanly things - love to see how she chooses to dress and present herself. But she doesn't cross the line and use the sex power card. She is a powerful person, and a woman, but her woman-ness isn't used to trip up those who relate to her.

Now - I have seen, even here at the Seminary, that women who want to be thoughtful can slowly lose touch with their femininity ... and I am sad about it. Men are not going to become more womanly to even the playing field, so women become more manly. There must be a way we can be true to a personal articulation of gender without resorting to demeaning personas. That is what I think, anyway.

10 comments:

Mrs Moose said...

Huh. i am going to go with your initial statement ... we all have a vantage point from which we see, or 'see through' ... and say that i didn't percieve the sexual power card. My issues vs yours, possibly.

For sure, she knows how to wield the power of verbal and non verbal influence. From my vantage point ... she rebuked, affirmed, cheered on, poked at, laughed with, and patted on the backs of ... and did it in a non-typical man's-world way. And at one point she did all those things in a 20 second response. impressive. I didn't see the sex thing. I saw the other things.

I am even considering switching teams because I want her to succeed for the rest of us. no kidding.
hmm.

Vincent said...

Wow. You're much more succinct than I am. I just thought she kinda looked like a high class prostitute. Ha! By the way, have you seen the Sarah Palin Sex Tape? Google it! (But not at work!)

Anonymous said...

I did see Palin wink last night and I wondered what it would look like for Bidon to wink...HA.
I did not think it a gender thing though....I thought it more of growing up small town. I know guite a few men that wink when they talk. But not in a way to flirt. I do know a few who do flirt when they wink, I can usually tell the difference. I did consider her wink...but thought it a sitting down with the local Joe conversation. I bet she winks when she talks with her kids too.
Yes, Bidon has been around the block and has been there for a long time....that could be a good thing...it could also be a bad thing.
Out of all the people in America...and these are the four that we have to choose from?
Becky

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is a cultural thing. My grandfather was a winker. I don’t believe he was a flirt, or trying to use it for sexual womanly wiles as he was a lumber jack, with nothing womanly about him. Perhaps he was just trying to keep his eye lashes from freezing together…it was northern Michigan. Generally when he winked it indicated he acknowledge your presence, or that while he sounded like he meant what he said, he was really kidding. Sometimes I think it was to relieve the tension in the conversation as it always brought a smile to your face when he did it…that everything was okay. But I don’t believe it had any sexual connotation to it.
Carol Burnett used to pull on her ear at the close of each show. Maybe it was a secret signal!
Sue

Anonymous said...

Back to the dream. One of my sisters (just turned 60) just e-mailed me about this dream she had last night. Candy has had it for years....on occasion.
She has a little girl in her dream. In real life she has 3 boys and 1 grandson. She has not fed this baby in forever, BUT she has put a cute curl on top and a cute pink bow. It would be interesting to ask women how many have a similar dream.
BECKY

Eve said...

Loved your comment, "Palin speaks of issues like she read them in a book. Or learned them last week. Biden speaks as if he has been there". I didn't see Sarah Palin saying anything of substance. Her whole speech was cliches of "what is best for the American people"- well, Sarah, what IS best for the American people?. Her answer "Maverick". When asked about how the US can help halt genocide in Sudan, she essentially answered, "I'm the governor of Alaska". I understand that she is a politician and trying to play the debate game, but her constant coverup shows me she really has no experience. She boasts about her lack of time experience in Washington, but how can someone who knows nothing of that system work change through that system? I think she winks to convince us she has something to say when she really doesn't. I find her tactics manipulating (maybe that is tied to the sex, power issue), whereas I find Biden to be more forthright about his stances and allows me to use my brain to decide if I agree with him rather than only trying to conjure up my patriotic (and often non-senical and ethnocentric) emotions in his favor.

Eve said...

Loved your comment, "Palin speaks of issues like she read them in a book. Or learned them last week. Biden speaks as if he has been there". I didn't see Sarah Palin saying anything of substance. Her whole speech was cliches of "what is best for the American people"- well, Sarah, what IS best for the American people?. Her answer "Maverick". When asked about how the US can help halt genocide in Sudan, she essentially answered, "I'm the governor of Alaska". I understand that she is a politician and trying to play the debate game, but her constant coverup shows me she really has no experience. She boasts about her lack of time experience in Washington, but how can someone who knows nothing of that system work change through that system? I think she winks to convince us she has something to say when she really doesn't. I find her tactics manipulating (maybe that is tied to the sex, power issue), whereas I find Biden to be more forthright about his stances and allows me to use my brain to decide if I agree with him rather than only trying to conjure up my patriotic (and often non-senical and ethnocentric) emotions in his favor.

Heather said...

probably a good thing that i cannot wink without looking like I have sand in both of my eyes.... i suppose that was God's way of saving me from myself.....

Anonymous said...

You'll want to see this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61wj4tJICcc

K. R. Carson said...

When I saw her wink, I was so confused and wasn't sure that I had seen what I'd just seen and turned to the person next to me and asked, "Did she just wink at us?" The friend next to me laughed in disbelief and all I could think was, "What the hell?!"

Winking to your friends is one thing or even to an acquaintance, if that's a normal think for someone, but it's not appropriate for a nationally televised vice-presidential debate.

The election is over and I'm still baffled by it.

This is a good post. Gives me lots to chew on.