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I just read the discussion between you and Kim Duckett in the most recent issue of WNC Woman and felt compelled to write.
I believe that Kim is absolutely correct. Of all the “isms” that cause hurt and violence, sexism is the deepest and has been embedded in our culture the longest. Sexism supports continuing violence against women, pay and job discrimination (women still make far less than men in comparable positions), and the cultural mindset that a woman’s value in our society is based upon her service to men, whether as a wife, a secretary, a nurse, etc.
A comment about women being sneaky may seem fairly innocuous on its face but it becomes another bit of trash added to the mountain of garbage that perpetuates unwarranted and undeserved cultural beliefs about women. In a culture that continually discriminates against them, women continue to thrive in ways that astonish. Throughout my life I’ve watched many women bringing up children on their own, working outside the home for financial support that our government is too often unwilling to demand from “fathers.” The caring work that women bring to society is invaluable yet most of that work goes unpaid and unrecognized.
The most damaging reality of the comments in Jeanne Charters’ article is that they came from an intelligent woman and were published in a well-loved women’s magazine. Some women could be characterized as sneaky but compared to the sneakiness, of say, a president who lies to gets us into war or the sneakiness of a culture that lies about women’s value to its continuation, I’d say that that characterization is misplaced. By publishing her words you, the magazine, and Ms. Charters became complicit in perpetuating a lie: that all women are sneaky; in denigrating women by likening them to cancer; and in supporting general cultural untruths.
Cancer is not a she and not a he. It is an it, a terrible disease. The fact that some feel compelled to genderize a disease exemplifies the pervasiveness of sexism.
Thanks for listening.
Thank you for publishing Sherri McLendon’s fine article, “When Equal Is Not Equal.”
Your readers may be interested to know that RATIFY ERA-NC has been organized to increase awareness of the urgent need for the Equal Rights Amendment and to advocate for it.
Right now, the focus is on Congress to pass resolutions to clarify that the ERA deadline is eliminated and that only three more states must ratify it in order for the ERA to become part of the U.S. Constitution. It’s a free call to the Capitol switchboard: 1.877.762.8762. Ask your Senators and Representative to cosponsor the resolutions, which are similar to HJR 47 and SJR 39, introduced in the last Congress. Momentum is building for true equality, and North Carolina women are an important part of it.
For information about RATIFY ERANC, go to www.era-nc.org.
Co-Director, RATIFY ERA-NC
Dear Sandi and Mary,
Just a brief note to thank you for the good review of my book. We are—women helping women—and I am so grateful for your contribution to our quality of life here in WNC.
Molly Walling [author Death in the Delta; reviewed March 2013]