Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm very pleased about the memorial for Martin Luther King Jr.

But when will there ever be a memorial for Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Susan B. Anthony?

This morning, I had a discussion with another blogger about the popular belief that racism is a worse, and therefore more important, problem than sexism. What nonsense. They are both horrible problems that caused poverty, despair and death for centuries.

Why, I once asked on a message board, is it the worst crime imaginable to call an adult black male a boy, but no big deal to call an adult female of any color a girl? I was then attacked for being stupid, possibly racist and "politically correct."

The sad part, of course, is that many women are not offended by being called girls (I'm not talking about "a night out with the girls" kind of thing--I assume everyone knows that--I'm talking about seriously referring to grown women as children). We have been told for so long that getting older is social and sexual death. that many of us believe it. But a girl is a child, and if the "girl" in your office is over eighteen, you are referring to her as a child, yet you would never talk about the 30-year-old "boy" in your office.

An acquaintance of mine, a man, always calls women "girls." Once, I said to him, "Listen, the woman you're talking about is just that--a woman, not a child. Why are you calling her a girl?" "I always do that," he said, "as a compliment." "Why is it a compliment to call an adult a child?" I asked him. Of course, he gave me the little speech about women not wanting anyone to know their ages. I told him that was an absurd, 1950s idea, but that if there were still women like that, it was because all women are told all the time that once we are not young, we are worthless. He still calls women girls.

But I digress. I think that Martin Luther King Jr. was a great American, and he deserves to be remembered as such. I just hope that, one day, the women who worked tirelessly to liberate other women will get the same kind of recognition. Stanton, Anthony, Alice Paul, Gloria Steinem, and many others risked everything for women's equality. They deserve more than a tossed-away silver dollar.

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