Still Laughing Along

rmtlondoncalling.org's sexism poster image

rmtlondoncalling.org sexism poster image

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
he envisions.

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.

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Comments

  1. gosh, Ruth – we are very moved by your response to our experience and want to thank you.

    it helped even while in the room with that sexist attorney to know that not could we tell people about it, we had the power to publish the experience so people we don’t know in RL could know that they are not alone – yeah, this crap happens, but now we don’t have to keep silent.

    plus the overwhelming feeling we got in the room was “He’s terrified of us” – he loomed vast in physical size and ego but We were the ones making a decision whether to hire him (hell, no) and have our own business and publishing contract, despite the awful experience, that was Very Clear.

    your poem is beautiful. really beautiful.

    so moved that you wrote this post – thank you dear.

    • You’re very welcome, and thank you again for inspiring my post. So glad you like the poem. I wrote it years ago, but, that’s what I love about poetry and art in general — the evergreen factor. Gotta run! CONGRATS on the #BeverlyHills lady-attorney! 🙂 Ruth

  2. Great post Ruth, great writing, great topic. Our deep lack of progress in the workplace has been something I’ve been grappling with since some experiences I had at a small company that shall remain nameless 🙂 I recently read Sheryl Sandbergs Lean In and I really feel that she is the voice of our generation. Her book just took so many issues and put them in focus–our treatment in the workplace, our exposure to small insults like the one teamgloria experienced, and the way we internalize these injustices and believe they are our fault. After reading your post, I think you might enjoy her book, too. I’m glad to know there are women like you out there talking about these issue head on, in a creative, compassionate way. Keep on posting.

    • Thank you, Jolie. You are a woman who I admire and respect a great deal on both a professional and personal level, so your positive and encouraging words mean a lot. One of my personal goals in writing posts is to promote content that is supportive of women around the world, so stay tuned for more, and thanks again!

  3. amazingly writn… i would like to further share this via my wbsite http://www.respectwomen.co.in

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