Apologies to Half the Population
Behind every male bi-weekly columnist for a local paper, usually stands a woman who will gently kick his backside when he says something stupid. I am lucky to have such a woman, not behind me, but by my side. She is sweet, kind, politically active, and an inspiration. And she let me know that in my last column, I could have phrased something better, a hell of a lot better.
That column laid pretty hard into Rep. Dana Rohrabacher for his support of President Putin and his Russian regime. I wholeheartedly stand by my criticisms of “Putin’s top congressional ally,” as each day further reveals the perfidious nature of Czar Vlad’s activities and the foolishness of our congressman’s position in support of such a leader.
I ended my piece with a plea for some brave Republican to run against Mr. Rohrabacher in the primary, saying, “He would have my vote.” Enter my significant other. She generally liked the piece, thought Congressman Rohrabacher had it coming, but wondered why I assumed it would be a he who could successfully challenge him. Upon reflection, I could offer no defense for that sentence.
As one who considers himself a liberal, I was confident that I was also a feminist. Women’s struggle for full equality has a ways to go, but I am heartened by strides being made. Since the mid 1990s, women have been more likely to graduate from college than men. One half of the labor force is now female, with women being 40% of primary wage earners. In 1937, George Gallup asked, “If your party nominated a woman for president would you vote for her if she were qualified?” Only 33% of Americans said “yes.” But in 2016, the United States elected Hillary Clinton. Well, they would have since she received 3 million more votes than her opponent. But in our Constitution there is that gift to the slave owning states, the Electoral College, that thwarted the will of the majority. I can hear the cries of those who say, “that’s the way the founding fathers wanted things to be!” Well, remember the founders also legalized slavery in the infamous three-fifths clause of Article 1 of the Constitution.
By supporting the proper positions and organizations, I was sure I had risen above sexism. The
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009? Check. A woman’s right to choose? Absolutely. The Violence Against Women Act? Of course. Donate to Planned Parenthood? Let me grab my checkbook.
But all these positions did not keep me from writing, without pausing to reflect, that I would support the “he” who would run against Congressman Rohrabacher.
Many psychologists believe there is such a thing as “unconscious bias.” This bias can be conditioned over a long period and usually leaps to the fore when the brain is acting quickly. Sometimes I write quickly, too quickly. I am also a 69-year-old male, conditioned for many years to see men as leaders and women in supporting roles. Hopefully, I am not too old to change this pattern and think before making sexist comments.
Let me change that last sentence in my recent column to read, “I would support that person.”
Woman or man, moderate Republican or progressive Democrat, let someone come forward and put an end to Congressman Rohrabacher’s reign of error.
To the 21 senators in Congress that are female, I apologize. To the 83 members of the House of Representatives who are also female, I apologize. To all women who aspire to run for elected office, I
apologize. To my dearest friend, Diane, thank you for pointing out this blind spot that, I fear, too many men have.
Given the condition of the world today, James Utt believes our planet would enjoy more peace and justice if there were more female leaders.