I got in a
heated little discussion last night with my girlfriend, Monica. She also
happens to be my ex-wife, and the mother to our three young kids — ages 6, 4, and
1. So it wasn't the first argument we've ever had, I can tell you
But so much
changes as you get older. As least it has for me. And these days I find myself
carefully choosing my words before I disagree or throw my ridiculous two-cent
opinions around without pondering what I'm actually saying.
We'd been discussing female comics, people like Amy Poehler and Tina
Fey, and although I think they're funny and all, I don't think they are quite as funny or badass as so
many people make them out to be. I started comparing them to other comics as a
way to strengthen my argument, which, in my mind was purely pop culture-based.
take long for Monica's jaw to fall. Right away she
called me out on the fact that everything I was saying, like my insistence that if
Amy or Tina were men they'd be the comic equivalent Seth Meyers as opposed to the groundbreaking female comedians she insists they are, was sounding
very, very sexist. She accused me of subconsciously downplaying their accomplishments because they're women in a field dominated by men (still!), as opposed to recognizing what they've done in spite of that.
back even more vehemently then. How dare she insinuate that I am even remotely
"I am the
least sexist man in the world!" I spat. "I have a six-year-old daughter in the
other room over there and I want the world for her!"
But I've got
to tell you something. The more I mouthed off and the more I tried to come to
terms with my so-called points in our silly little comedy discussion, the more
sick I began to feel inside. I mean, Monica is really intelligent and really
aware. AND, she's a woman. And here she was telling me that, from her own
vantage — that of a single mom/career woman/fierce advocate of equality rights
for everyone, everywhere — I was sounding like a sexist asshole.
Then I asked
her, point blank, if she really though that women hadn't made massive
in-roads in the last 20 years, and whether they weren't much more equal to men
in the workforce and in society in general than they used to be?
into me good. She opened up a can of whoop-ass wisdom that spun me around
and dropped me within seconds.
Yeah, we've made inroads, she told me. But women are still treated like they're second-best in a world where
men still dominate and discriminate and de-elevate nearly every single grand
accomplishment that females make.
considered myself a smart man. I really have. I'd say to you with a completely
straight face that I am a man who supports equal rights for gays and lesbians
and minorities and women, too. But Monica's words came crashing down on
me like some collapsing building in the street. I was buried under this rubble
of my own confusion.
Have I been
blind for so long?
Even as a
father to a little girl — my first child, a kid I would do anything for,
anytime, anywhere, no matter what it might be — was I someone who didn't
truly understand that women in 2015 are still very much fighting a serious
fight to be treated as equal to the men who have been dominating (and screwing
up) governments and societies and schools and pretty much everything else in
this messed-up world?
car-crash discussion ended in maybe 15 minutes. Then like a child who'd just
been taken to school on a thing or two, I crashed on the couch, my feelings all
hurt by the things this woman I care an awful lot about had just pointed out to
I'm writing this all today just to let my Violet know that I'm on it. I'm back on the trail, kid. I won't fail you, I swear to friggin' God.
sleep though. I laid there thinking about what had just went down. For hours, I
stared at the ceiling and thought about this horrific notion pinging around
back behind my face. See, even though I'm a pretty progressive dude in a land
where backwards thinking and sexism still run rampant, I had to wonder whether
I hadn't overestimated just how much I actually knew in regards to what girls
and women have to go through on a daily basis in America, and pretty much
everywhere else in this world, in the 21st century.
still reeling from it all. I don't even know what the hell happened, to be
honest. What started out as me trying to be cool and edgier than Monica, by saying
that I wasn't as into certain mega-popular female comics as she and everybody
else was, it ended up being this eye-opening, nauseating discovery for me.
And I need
to own that here today, for my daughter. For the world. For you too, just in
case you think you're one of those guys who really gets it when it comes to
what girls and women have to battle against every damn day of their lives.
I guess what
I'm hoping to say here is that we're never as far along as we need to be when
it comes to equality. I guess I got lazy when it comes to that. I
simply thought that men had come a lot further than we actually have. Just by
me even thinking that things were on much more even ground these days, that
shows how ignorant I'd become. It isn't easy for me to admit that either,
believe me. I want the world for my little girl.
But the only
way I'm ever going to help her grab it and make it happen is by realizing what
Monica helped me realize last night, man.
Listen, I don't know
shit about how hard it is to be a girl. I don't know
shit about how hard it is to be a woman in a male-dominated workplace.
And I don't
know shot about how much American society still looks at women as undeserving
of the kind of treatment it reserves for all the dude CEOs and linebackers and
rappers and rock stars and school teachers and doctors and bus drivers and
chefs and whatever else you can think of.
I've been on
the right path, but I stopped along the way, I guess. I pitched my tent, made
my little camp fire and got comfortable just sitting there in one place along
the trail that never ends.
trail to equality starts with men exactly like me. It starts with dads who love
their daughters boundlessly, but still don't fully understand what those little
girls are up against.
this all today just to let my Violet know that I'm on it. I'm back on the
trail, kid. I won't fail you, I swear to friggin' God. Because I am a man with
a voice and even though I haven't been using it all that much lately, I'm going
to start hollering up a storm, baby.
make sure that I play whatever part I can in simply admitting that I
had no idea. And make sure that I'm never that foolish or lazy or blind
ever again until the damn day I die.