I follow the teamgloria blog that is authored by a talented writer who also happens to be a “glorious” woman. This post of hers about an episode of blatant sexism that she experienced earlier this week was difficult to read and gave me pause.
Though work and personal tasks have kept me busy over the past few days, the truth of that post – the fact that it’s 2013 and women in the U.S. are still experiencing sexism on a professional and personal level – has lingered in the back of my mind.
Over the past few days, I’ve thought about the behavior of men and women and have asked myself questions like: Exactly what is it in our modern world that keeps sexism and sexist attitudes alive? Is sexism something that’s learned, or are sexist beliefs and attitudes derived from somewhere within us? And, can both men and women be held responsible for perpetuating sexist beliefs?
Consider the unending female focus on external beauty and the struggle to attain what society deems as the “perfect body.” Since the days of Cleopatra, women have adorned themselves with jewels, worn makeup and perfumes, and have striven to be considered beautiful in society.
Why do women strive for external beauty? Is the end game goal to attract members of the opposite sex? If so, then aren’t women partially culpable in objectifying themselves? When it comes to sexism and its causes, the questions and answers aren’t always simple. And, the same can be said for being a woman.
Back in 1997, I wrote the below poem that speaks to the complexities and paradox of womanhood. Whether you’re a woman or man, I’d love to hear your feedback on this post and the poem. One last point I’ll make is that sexism, past or present, is no laughing matter.
And I Laugh Along
The older man with the aging ego
winks at me and I laugh along with him.
And though my smile does fool him,
I am more than the sweet symbol
of remembered youth and pleasure
For within me and my youthful frame
clangs Eve’s hymn of experience.
Within me, I hear the sounds
of widows’ hearts breaking.
Within me, I hear a chorus of
countless mothers’ sighs that
drowns out all of the
intense borning cries.
Within me, I hear
what I am yet to know.
And I softly smile,
already realizing that
being a woman in this life
often means being misunderstood.