Equality? #wwwp5k

img_4616“Gender inequality doesn’t exist anymore.” My husband declares with the emphasis of someone seeing his inherent privilege fade away. He goes on to outline the female project manager giving him fits, the multitude of females at high levels in his company and his aggravating female client. For an engineer who started his career seeing cubicles filled with monthly images of scantily clad women wielding power-tools, this twenty year rise of women from calendar to manager has been rapid and probably unexpected.

I can’t really argue too much with him. I manage a team of engineers, half women and half men. With our matching engineering degrees we make the same amount of money.  (Well, we leap frog. When I get a raise, I make more. Then he gets one and he makes more.) We have similar responsibilities, similar jobs, similar flexibility to balance parenthood and employment.

We both coached our daughter’s soccer team. He does the dishes and laundry. I shop and cook. He fixes the broken fence; I sew buttons on when they fall off. I handle plumbing issues and he handles electricity.

We raise our daughter to love math and science. We raise our daughter to sing and love books. We raise our daughter to be a strong person and gender roles aren’t a topic we ever think to discuss. In her world the best mathematician in her class is a girl. The best speller is a girl and the person with the best handwriting is a girl.

But I’m a runner. I love running when I travel for work. Last week I left my hotel room with my phone in hand and my room key in my pocket. I don’t wear headphones when I run, because I know it’s not safe. I hate holding my phone when I run, but I’m somewhere strange and no one knows I’m leaving and no one is expecting me back. On the off chance something bad happens I can call. On the off chance something really bad happens the last known location of my cell phone might be traceable.

I’ve taken a self defense class. I know what to do if I’m attacked. I know where to gouge how to shout and how to best strike someone to knock them out. I know that if someone attacks me with a knife I’m supposed to grab the blade. My stomach clenches every time I think that: grab the blade. Can you imagine? Have you ever imagined? If you are woman, you might have. If a man, probably not.

I never go for a run and don’t think of my safety. I vary my route. I’m aware of my surroundings.

In Austin I jogged out to my favorite run along Town Lake. Somehow I got turned around and found myself out on this amazing path I’ve never seen before. Maybe I usually run on the opposite shore or maybe I go the other direction?  Regardless, this new route was filled with people so I felt safe and headed out to enjoy an adventure.

Then I came to a fork. One side continued next to the river and the other diverted off into a wooded sanctuary. One side was safe and the other was unknown. I stopped and waited. Every single runner, walker, cyclist stayed on the main path. No one turned. No one sought out the shady refuge from the 92 degree heat. Minutes passed, and my desire to keep running waned. I turned around and headed back the way I came. As I neared my hotel I wondered what was down that path. Was I just being silly? Then I remembered the woman who was attacked the week before walking in my neighborhood. Better to be safe than sorry.

The genders are equal in lots of ways. But my little girl and I will have many conversations in her life about how to keep herself safe. How to make sure she has a friend watching out for her at a party. What the consequences could be if she drinks too much. How to be aware and not look like a victim. Why she shouldn’t wear “that dress”. If she’s a runner I’ll teach her what I’ve learned, and hopefully she won’t take the wooded path either, even if it calls to her soul. Safety first.

My husband and I are equal in many ways, but I have long hair and breasts and physical attributes that mark me as a potential victim.  I am smaller than my husband and I have soft places that bad men want to hurt and probe. My daughter has smaller softer places. I am weaker and could be overpowered by most men, if they wanted to. I have to teach my daughter things I would never teach a son. Just like black families have to teach their kids how to act if a cop pulls them over, which is something that I would never think to teach my white daughter.

“Have you ever worried about you safety?” I ask my husband when I get home from Austin. “Do you worry about being in a park after dark, or walking to you car at the airport?”

“No. Why?” he asks.

The conversation has to start somewhere. With a kneel at the anthem. With a conversation between two almost equals who love each other. Inequality exists.

My musings from my 5k around Austin, Texas and part of the WordPress WWWP5K.

26 thoughts on “Equality? #wwwp5k

    1. It’s so interesting that you’ve had a similar conversation. My husband was shocked that safety was something I worried about. We live in the same house and it just never occurred to him that I thought about such things. When we can’t even notice inequality in our own family unit, how can we see it across race or religion? Thanks so much for the read and the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Austin Run – #wwwp5k – Afthead

  2. Pingback: Community Recap: Automattic’s Worldwide WordPress 5K - The Paleo Junky

  3. Excellent article and what you say is so true in all walks of life, in all countries across the world. Creating the awareness of inequality by talking about it, privately and in the media, is a powerful weapon which we must use often and effectively. It was great to “meet” you by participating in the #wwwp5k initiative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is great to meet you as well. Inequality is an uncomfortable topic, and talking about it is even more uncomfortable, but I love your point: awareness is one of the only weapons we have. Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Impulse || Home

    1. The thing I have the hardest part with – in all instances of inequality – is that we can’t totally fix the problem. I don’t believe that someday the world will be free of gender worries for me or my daughter. However, I think it’s better for us than it was for my mom or grandmother. But still, your husband has to worry for you. I get overwhelmed because I want to make it go away…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It is very interesting that I would come across this today since my friend and I were just discussing this very thing last night. She is an ex-patient of mine who has become one of my very best friends. I am a white woman, and she is a black woman twenty years older. While discussing the Presidential election, we trailed off to the discussion of racism verses prejudice attitudes. I told her that the only reason I feel that I can even come close to comprehending her frustration and resentment toward the events of our past as well as the recent events involving young, black men is because I am a woman. I mentioned the fact that, while a white man may disagree with racism and prejudice attitudes, he can never truly feel what it is like to be on the receiving end of it. I grew up with a very feminist attitude about many things. I settled down some after getting married and having children. My motherly instinct kicked in, and I became less concerned about losing my footing in my career path, even though I had once said I would never stay home with my children once I had them just to watch my husband, who I graduated with in the same field, continue to advance. Even so, I did have to make that choice, just like I have to make choices every day simply because I am a woman. I didn’t live in the days when women were nothing but property, and I have never been told that law enforcement isn’t allowed to intervene when my husband is beating me since that would be considered a domestic disturbance. I thank God that I didn’t have to live in the days when this was so, but still, I feel angry simply because, had I lived through them, I could have been one of the women experiencing those very things. I also know that, while we are free from so much of it here in American, there are still plenty of places in the world where women are still suffering the same fate. Those are the things I think about when trying to put myself in my friend’s shoes. I told her these things in hopes that she would understand that I get it…the best that I am capable of getting it. This post was perfect, and I plan on printing it out to take to my friend. I want her to read it as well. Again, thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for this incredibly thoughtful comment. I actually came to this post because of a discussion I had with a friend about racism. We were talking about sports protesters kneeling during the anthem and wondering what the endgame was for the athletes. I said something inane like, “I get that they are protesting, but what do they want me to do?” As usual, I wanted to do something to help or fix or make it better.

      It wasn’t until I took a minute to try to empathize that I saw I could relate to the struggle a tiny bit. As a woman I’ll never feel 100% safe. I don’t think the situation can be fixed completely, but I think it’s worth a conversation and an acknowledgement of the difference between my husband’s life and my life. I actually wrote this post with one of my best blogging friends in mind, who occasionally opens my eyes to what a black woman’s life is like. You and your friend may like her stuff: https://kwoted.wordpress.com/.

      Like you, I am so grateful that I have more opportunities in my life than my mother did or my grandmother did and I hope my daughter continues to have more opportunities than I did. I hope that when she is a mother there is no stigma of a stay at home dad or a working mother. I also hope that someday black families won’t have to teach their kids how to be safe when the police pull them over, and all athletes feel that the anthem stands for a country that respects them. These are all worthy goals worth talking about and inching our way toward.

      Thank you, thank you for this comment and for reading. I hope your friend likes my post as much as you did. I’m really touched by your words.

      – Johanna


  6. Thank you for sharing that.
    My partner is in the process of setting up her own mobile holistic therapy business. Although I’m happy and excited for her, I can’t help but consider the worse case scenarios of her being out on her own, entering homes, where she will have little knowledge of the person or their morals.
    It is such a shame that woman can not, without hesitation or doubt, wander or go to places that most men wouldn’t give a second thought.
    J x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Presidential Equality – Afthead

  8. I, too, live with an enlightened man. But when we speak of how we got to where we are, he has had a much easier time of it on so many levels. (Remember, Johanna, I’m 20 years older than you, so, lots more water under the bridge.) And as I’ve said in another comment, this present time is a tipping point for women and I believe it would not have happened if we hadn’t been jolted into reality by our present state of affairs. Your daughter will see much better days than we ever imagined, although what we are going through right now will make it a bumpy ride for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My worry is that the equality I observe in my socioeconomic bubble isn’t felt across the larger population, and I neither know how to gauge that reality or fix inequalities outside of my sphere. I do hope my kiddo continues to see improvements from your and my experiences, but the next four years will be telling. I daily wonder what Hillary is making of these first weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s