If one woman does something either remarkable or disgraceful, it is seen as a reflection on all women. If one man does something remarkable or disgraceful, it is considered only a mark against him.
What will we be, after all, if men don’t chase us and whistle at us and tell us we’re pretty? What will we be if they don’t need us to cook and clean and raise their children? What will we be if they don’t call us or ask us to dance?
No one is ever completely safe. Pregnant women are no exception. And, in fact, pregnancy is a dangerous condition, especially in America. We have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. But, of course, no one really cares if women die; they only care if women miscarry.
When a man brags about his talent, people cheer. But women? Women are expected to show some humility, even when they’ve earned the right to crow. And it makes sense, I guess, because if we start letting women act like men on the field, they might want to be treated like men off the field.
For decades women have chased equality by asserting we deserve the same rights as men—the right to make our own medical decisions, for example. But perhaps we’re going about it all wrong. Instead, we should enforce equality by giving men more responsibility and offering them fewer choices.
Anyone who believes women have attained equality should be aware that this sort of thing happens all the time in less dramatic ways in offices across America and throughout the world. Women do the work, but rarely get the credit. Every woman I know can cite at least a dozen times when one of her ideas was co-opted by some man. This is not a dig at men, in particular, but at the way we assume that any big accomplishment ought to be attributed to the nearest white male.