How come we're still a problem?
Often I look around and think, well -- the rich may have ripped off my country and succeeded in making the "little people" (thank you Leona Helmsley for naming us) pay the price in daily suffering for the empire's decline -- but at least in my lifetime women and queers seem on the way to equal opportunity participation in the general morass.
I'm not talking about the big battles, like the Republican war on women's health as expressed by denying funds to Planned Parenthood. Control of our plumbing remains contested.
But whenever I think I'm surrounded by little improvements that have moved the terrain, I run across reminders that women's equality is still problematic. Here are three examples for a quiet Saturday.
A friend noticed these packages at the gift shop in San Francisco's tony Legion of Honor museum. Now I guess we can imagine that some tourists may be too overwhelmed by the facility's splendors to figure out what souvenir to buy for young relatives -- but do they really need gender labels on their gifts? My friend tried to complain to a mystified clerk.
Walking through the Mission District (yes, photographing cats in windows), I ran across this odd example of pseudo-revolutionary porn. What was the artist thinking? I have no idea whether Libyan women have guns, but I'm pretty certain that most of them are hunkering down, hoping to keep their menfolk alive, and wondering whether their families will survive the fighting around them. Sure, they may have political opinions, hopes and fears -- but there's nothing pretty or attractive about living through a chaotic war among testosterone-poisoned guys with guns.
This poster hangs on the wall of the conference room in one of our city's more effective neighborhood community organizing outfits. Yes, it feels a bit simpleminded and rigid, but following rules of behavior may be what we need to learn to get along. We become what we practice. The poster probably fades from members' consciousness, just another wall hanging in a familiar room. But the rules set a baseline. As in most such organizations, women outnumber men in the membership here and they sure aren't about to keep quiet or take any shit.