Because if we don’t address our own internal problems, they will grow, and we will lose strength and momentum as a progressive movement at a time we need it the most.
We are up against a political machine that is extremely skilled at what it does, and what it does best, is “divide and conquer”. They are the best at scoping out the opposition, finding the fault lines, driving in the wedges and pounding away till their target becomes too splintered or damaged to be effective. It has won them two elections so far.
I imagine the Rovians are rubbing their hands with great glee right now, reading about the recent gender/sexism battle on dkos, a major progressive website. I’d guess they find it especially delightful to see a contingent of powerful older women’s voices split the scene, because they know this group can be notoriously hard to silence or control.
That is ample reason in itself enough for any smart progressive political forum to pull up hard, and make dealing with the gender discrimination it’s ranks a top priority issue.
But there’s another vitally important reason, and I think a even more urgent one than the first.
There is a strong and dangerous movement of powerful Right Wing Religious Extremists slowly infiltrating every layer of our political structure and our government. Their goal is to take over America for God, and to run it according to the tenants of their brand of Fundamentalist Christianity.
I know a lot about what that means, having been born a female in 1940, into just such a world. It means total subjugation and control of the female gender.. It means a world where women have no freedoms not granted directly to them by the powerful “religious” males who have assumed control of everything.
This is accomplished by brainwashing both men and women into believing women are second class citizens, and one way this is done is by demeaning, dismissing and debasing the dignity and value of women through the use of sharp edged sexist language. And by not allowing non- compliant, dissenting women’s voices to be heard.
To find that same kind of language, that same kind of demeaning, dismissive attitude toward the female gender alive and well, and allowed to stand, in the year 2005 on a powerful progressive political forum is one of the most astounding and alarming things I have witnessed in many years.
I am desperate to reach those who see nothing wrong with demeaning sexist advertizing, to please be willing to at least listen to those of us who know how powerful a harmful cultural influence on attitudes it can be.
To those young men and women who piled on the concept that we are prudish feminazi nutcases, who don’t care about anything but our own narrow self interests and issues, please listen, you have never been more wrong in your lives.
To those who think we are interested in censorship and depriving you of your rights to celebrate your sexuality any way you so choose, oh no, no no. We fought for your rights to be able to express your sexuality freely and without shame. All we are asking is that you think..about the long range effects of such powerful gender-based messages on the formation of attitudes towards the basic worth of women and men. And please think about what you are really saying, when you call women like me prudes, menstruating she devils, or feminazi’s, when you don’t know us at all.
To those who have invited our dissenting voices to leave the scene, well, I can only say be careful. Be very, very careful about that you are discarding so lightly. I understand that in today’s America, age and experience are not valued very much anymore, and that we are often seen as rigid, out of date old dinosaurs with nothing of value to contribute. If this is your attitude, you cannot be blamed totally, because this is what this society has taught you from the day you could sit upright and focus on your television sets. The same with sexism. That has surrounded all of us for so long, it has come to seem normal to many. But unconscious ageism, unconscious sexism, is so incredibly dangerous a luxury.
The fact is, the progressive movement cannot afford a ongoing generation gap to continue, anymore than we can afford this ongoing gender war to continue, if we truly want to be a force to be reckoned with.
These deeply programmed negative, divisive attitudes, are some of our biggest fault lines, our weak spots, and there will always be those who will take advantage of them to cause chaos and dissension, thus dilution of our shared power, every bit of which we need more now than ever before.
So I implore those who have the visionary energy and drive and resources to set up progressive forums for all our voices, to take the lead now that you have the power to do so, and pause long enough to look at the need to unite progressive energies across the genders and the generations.
I ask you to remember that united we stand, divided we fall. I ask you to be willing to use your unique position to help remove the barriers among us, that we, as progressive, can simply no longer afford to ignore.
Because if we don’t do things differently now, we will just continue to go backwards, and one by one, the freedoms so many take for granted now, but that so many have have fought and died for, right here at home, are going to be lost.
My new grand daughter is only a few months old. I want her to have the world I fought for her to have, not the one I had to fight so hard to escape. I know you want the same for your daughters and grand daughters.
I am but one of many who will work right beside those are willing to take this on.
Progressives, it is time to tear down the walls.