Monday, October 28, 2013

Equity for All

I have so much to write about right now.  I have been doing LOTS of PTA stuff and we have raised about $50,000 this year already.  Amazing!  I have been advocating for our school by making sure that the PPS board and Facilities people know how desperate we are for space at our schools.  I am involved with the high school redesign process for the 3 high schools that will be fully rebuilt over the next 6 years.  The BCS Foundation has kicked off their fundraising efforts and I am there to be supportive.  There is also the parenting thing that includes, 5 soccer practices per week, 3 games and now parties (thank goodness that is drawing to a close).  And there's AWOL 2-3 times per week, rock climbing, band and choir.  There are other responsibilities like, playing ball with the dog.  The meals 3 times a day....every day, seriously, I feel like I am always in the kitchen.  Maintaining the house....kinda.  6:15 daily walks with Bob.  Yoga.  Stair walks.  And so on.  There is no way I could do half of that if I had a job.  Kudos to those of you that can do both.  I couldn't.

I am not going to write about any of that today.  I am going to talk about equity.  It is something that most of us understand conceptually but really we only know the word.  I don't think most people feel it in their soul.  Equity is greatly misunderstood and I want people to really stop and look at themselves and consider what equity is and how it effects what and who is around you.

First, I want to talk about equity between men and women.  This is one that we can all basically understand ........ sort of.   This one goes way back in our culture.  There are other cultures where men and women are equal but ours is not one of them.   Women have not been equal on any level.

Women have been put in the kitchen to feed our families, have been the baby makers and been there to please men for generations.  Look all around you and it's everywhere.  In the Bible a wife must submit to her husband. Check this out, numbers 3 and 8 are my personal favorites.  

Women have been reduced to objects, objects to make fun of, judge, take revenge on, belittle and to put in their place.  Well I am here to tell you that that reduces us all.  Every time a man makes fun of or harms a woman it reduces him.  It takes away part of his humanity.  In reality it makes him less.  The woman feels less than but the truth is, it hurts both parties.   Many times when this happens other boys or men see the put down or harm of a woman and encourage it.  "Awe man, you told her." "She had it coming." "She deserved it." They give the harm power. It's wrong, so very wrong.  As that man reduces himself he looses self esteem.  Let's be honest here, if that man had high self esteem he wouldn't hurt another.  Both parties loose.  Objectification is what makes it easier for men to rape women and even kill them.  Take the case in Maryville High School in Missouri.   She was an object and he was the conqueror.  Take a look at the young man's statement at the bottom of the page, he has no remorse and there was no ultimately no penalty.  This is just one of a million similar stories.

In advertising women are objects.  Go ahead, click it, it's obscene!  Women don't have anything to do with most of the objects being sold but there they are, naked, beaten, choked, stunned, unconscious, shown with heads covered.   These objects belong to everyone but the women in those bodies.  Those aren't women.  If you aren't skinny enough you should be ashamed and withdraw.  You are worth less and there by end up feeling worthless.

These are real women.  They are all shapes, sizes, colors and look, most of them are smiling.  You don't see that in the objectified women because what, a smile is not sexy?   I don't know.  And while these images are beautiful and real they are from one campaign that I can see.  DOVE!  Thank you Dove for standing up for the 99%+ of us that are real, have lumps, scars, crazy hair etc.

It is frightening to think of what our kids are seeing.  They're little and don't know what's being thrown at them.  I have tried to teach my kids but not everyone does.  Many go along with the notion that you need to be what you see.  I try very hard to introduce my kids to all sorts of things so they have many options of what they can be.  Skinny is not one of the things I want my kids to be.  I want them happy, healthy, smart, successful and fulfilled.  I want them to respect and see themselves so they can respect and really see others.

And some of my favorite disses of women are in politics.  When men discussed Hillary Clinton it was often times more about what a "bitch" she was, how she acted "Hysterical" or what her her pant suit looked like or how attractive she is/was or is/not.  What the hell does that matter?  Not any of that speaks to her politics.  How often have you heard "real news" outlets report what a "bastard" any male politician is or commented about his suit or what his hair looked like?  I am not a Sarah Palin fan but I was out raged to hear men speaking about her in a sexual manner and that it was on "legitimate" new channels.  The same thing goes for Michele Bachman, I'm not a fan but let's talk politics.  I don't care what she looks like or what she wears.

And there is social inequity. "Haves" vs. "Have Nots" is always a big one.  It is in play in our country and all over the world.  The real "Haves" are the top .01% and they are in such control that we, the other 99.99%, can't even imagine their wealth and power and how far it goes.  If you are interested in how big the disparity is check this out, I think it will blow your mind how inequitable our finances really are.

Most of the people I know are "Haves," not the .01% "Haves" but are well enough off.  When a "Have Not" sees all the stuff and the life that a "Have" has they may think, "I want that stuff and that life."  Let's say that person is a hard worker and they go get their first job at a fast food place.  They'll probably make minimum wage of $7.25 (in Oregon it's $8.95) or $15,000 per year.  That does not get you very much stuff.  It's discouraging.

That same person may have a kid.  That complicates things.  Or maybe they decide to get an education so they take on debt and are still working a job.  There are lots of scenarios.  In the best circumstances that person succeeds and they become a success.  Terrific.  Or, in another scenario, that person becomes a criminal.  When you are at the bottom of the food chain and have nothing to lose it is easier to take risks to potentially improve your life.

It seems that it makes more sense to even things out.  If someone makes $15.00 per hour that takes their pay to just over $30,000.  Now that makes life a whole lot more comfortable.  Someone with health care and a decent home is much more apt to be a law abiding citizen.  They are now part of the group with more to lose and thus more of a part of our society.  They also pay more taxes so it's good for the city, state and federal governments.  They can participate in consumerism  Heck, they may decide they need more education so they can make even more money.  I see that as only positive.

That is a different topic of equity but again, it seems that when we have more social equity, we all have more to gain than to lose.  I am for giving a hand up and out, not a handout.  

There is inequity in marriage, education, living conditions, pay, health care, mental health, incarceration, for people of color, people from other countries and of other religions.  As those with more power drive the top higher and the low, lower we will see more of the same.  I am not saying socialism or communism is the answer. I do believe the ideal is much different then the reality.  Again, fiscally I refer to above mentioned video.   I think those graphs suit social injustices too but they are much harder to measure.  So much inequity starts with money.

There is inequity all across our planet.  I don't know what the answers are but I encourage you to look at equity where you are.  Study it.  Empathize with the "others."  Try to see things from their perspective.  Where have you not been treated equitably?  How are you teaching your children about it?  How are you teaching them to treat others equitably? What are you doing to make sure your daughters are treated with respect and your sons treat women with respect?  What do you do to show that equity is important in your life?  Will you step in to right inequity when you see it?  I believe until we are all given the opportunity to be on equal footing none of us is free.  It is an ongoing conversation that I look at every day and I hope you will too.