February 03, 2011

Choose Wisely

I picked up the phone and it was an election campaigner, someone who probably was calling all the female voters in the area. "You'd vote for Ms. so and so?" I was asked. "Actually NO" I said.

What?" was the response, "I'd expect a successful women to support a feminist candidate who supports women's issues".

Actually I'm not, a feminist that is. Not in the sense of the word usually associated with it. I'm not going to burn my bra (except for that one that looks like a flak vest) and I'm not going to walk dutifully 10 feet behind my husband with my head covered. I'm a contradiction in stereotypes, a modern woman who can shoot, hunt, manage a team of a dozen or so ex special forces types, fix most things and survive on my own. But I'm also someone who still wants a strong rugged man to kill that spider, and understand that sometimes I can't do it all and am going to come home after slaying the dragon, go to my room and cry like a girl. I want someone who will read that 130 page technical report of mine, understand it and praise it, and then bend me like Gumby and make me forget my name.

I'm not the inaccurate stereotype that liberals would like to make of a woman voter of the right, some hillbilly woman with 8th grade reading skills and a baby on each hip. I'm successful, educated, pro life, pro Constitution and pro gun. I call older folks and all veterans Sir and Ma'am and I will bring my man a cold beer while he watches historical TV shows with tanks blowing up things on TV (and likely join him on the couch to watch with him).

The feminists probably wouldn't like me, and some of the more more traditionally brought up women I've met probably think I'm a different species. I'm not a woman that thinks my man should act like a women and treat me like a man. I may fix the damn door but I like it when you open it for me. That's courtesy not sexism. Like my parents, I believe that in a household, decisions should be joint, discussed, like battle strategy, what is best for us, for the family, not dictated by the man simply because he is the man OR the woman simply to keep the peace.

So I find the idea that I should vote for a woman, simply because she is a woman to be as sexist and idiotic as having a politician elected simply because he looked good in an expensive suit and talked pretty.

Perhaps it's something with me, passed on from a strong mother, who was a Deputy Sheriiff and still greeted my Dad in a dress with a with a martini on Friday nights. Perhaps it's the examples that have been laid before me.

My husband was from the deep south, a southerner of rigid and controlling values, not the gentlemanly, strong men of the south I've come to know since. I was brought home as some prize to show his parents, after they near disowned him for taking up with some bimbo. "Look what I own now", was how I was paraded around, like some prize cow, valued for anything other than love. I tried my best to fit in, cooking with the women, something I always loved to do for family, tending to chores. But I soon realized that the older women in the family all had a haunted look about about their eyes, a quiet desperation there amongst all the noise and bustle of large meal gatherings. Women were bearers of babies, burden and contempt, working all day in the heat and the noise on Sundays and holidays while the men got drunk and watched football.

My husband had moved away, living a different type of life than this, when I married him against my family's wishes. But his father's death brought us back to that place and soon he was treating me the only way he knew, the way his father had treated his mother, with idle disrespect and the occasional fist. The first Thanksgiving was an eye opener. After cooking all day I went to set down at the table and was informed by a senior member of the house that the women should "eat in the kitchen", not with the men. We were there to wait on them and clean up after them, and if we had time for a bite somewhere in there so be it.

I came into that relationship with two college degrees and pilot wings on my uniform and soon found that although I loved rural life, I hated the way I was treated, simply because of my gender. If I went into a feed store I'd be asked if what I ordered was what my husband wanted. I could be up all night wrestling with a tractor, pack my bag and go spend my weekend flying a large transport, only to come home and be patted on the head, and called the "little woman" while the salesman talked to my husband as the money I earned was spent, as if I was not in the room.
I was not alone, I'd see women at the church socials, wearing plain clothing, with downcast eyes bearing trays of food which were made with the passion they weren't allowed to show in any other public way. I worked, as the money was needed, but few others did, other than selling cosmetics or kitchenware or other "at-home business". I was asked to attend one of their meetings, watching the team leader whipping the group into a lather of frenzy that reminded me of a church revival. "Who's going to book 10 parties!" and the group response with liturgical precision. "We Are!". The products were usually good, and some women actually made a fraction of the money they dreamed of. I'd see in those meetings their eyes, that would blaze up like a lantern just before the oil runs out. There in that small moment a brief blaze of freedom that for many will be snuffed out once they got home. So I understood that small stand for independence, that recognition of hard work they didn't get anywhere else, a place where they could speak freely, cloaked in the conspiratorial whisper of pink perfume.
But these were strong women underneath, and like myself we went into such marriages with the naive vision of youth, picking someone because everyone expects you to get married. Someone likable, nice looking someone strong, able to change your lives for the better, without a strong look at family, character or integrity. And we stuck it out because of. . . I can only explain it with a phrase that came from the Bible that I had not understand before. "A peace that passeth all understanding". Passeth all understanding. Yes, for in looking back I see it now, that decision to stay that bears no understanding on the surface. That pride, that furious wish to hide the abject folly of your youthful decision, bearing that load around like a large platter, too large for a small girl to handle. Not speaking up, not crying out but carrying that decision, for some, all the way into burning ground.

I will never forget that but I have forgiven it, as 15 years have passed, people and places change, and fate steers us to where we need to be. Society too has changed since those days when I was a young bride. I can now go into most gun stores with my concealed permit and a credit card and say "do you have the new XDM in .45?" and no one bats an eye. I drive a large truck and don't get funny looks in traffic. And if the seat of the truck is covered with cakes and pies it's because I wanted to bake them for the men in my life, those I work with, those I love, NOT because I'm expected to.
I let one my friends to read this post and asked if it was too personal, too somber to make public. He said I should. He said I needed to. I look at things in great detail now. I see things not as a whole taken at face value, but as the individual components which comprise the whole. Just as in a crime scene you sift through those seemingly unrelated disbursements of strong and and fragile, the sniffles and sighs that echo in the air even as flesh cools and hair scents the air with ammonia perfume, those wholes of pieces of life and strong bones, detached yet familiar, so secret yet familiar. I look hard at things, including people, having learned the hard way the years of long sentence that are the result of foolish choice.

Choices without prejudice. Freedoms with responsibility. On the day that I vote, like most days off, I will likely go to the range first and shoot, watching the bullet fly free of the firearm, like the stream from a fire hose. I will watch it fly with freedom and power, and I will stand in awe as to the damage that can be done when such power is misused.
Then, when the day has come, I will go home, clean my weapon, throw my apron in the wash and go to the voting booth where I am NOT automatically going to vote for a woman with a pro choice button and the nice suit. I would not vote for her any more than I would vote for a woman with a firearm and a nice suit only because she is a women. I will vote for the best candidate, one who can articulate in the face of adversity, stick with a commitment and put the interests of the people of this country ahead of the social schedule, book signing or Hollywood coverage. I want a candidate who, when confronted with a threat to our life and liberty will not stare at the ground or a teleprompter. I want a candidate who will fight for us, just as I am drawn to a man who is willing to fight for me .

So Mr. Pollster, there you have it. Present to me a candidate that can do those things and I'll vote for him OR her, but only on those terms. There are some mistakes we don't wish to make twice.

Posted by Brigid at February 3, 2011 07:08 PM

Good on you.

I'm trying to picture what would happen if someone had tried to order any of my female ancestors I know much of to eat in the kitchen... I don't think there would have been chunks big enough to put in place. There were Reasons their families went west, or to America.

Posted by: Foxfier at February 3, 2011 07:40 PM

Any chances on YOU running for office??????

You would be like a real Sarah Palin.

Posted by: george at February 3, 2011 07:42 PM

Ah, obviously you suffer from what the feminists call "false consciousness." They're good at disregarding and dismissing what people tell them that goes against the narrative.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at February 3, 2011 08:18 PM

Ms. Brigid, it appears your husband was many things...

Chief among them was "fool"...


Posted by: davek at February 3, 2011 11:26 PM

A throwback to times when men when men and women were women ... and they liked it that way.

Posted by: Neo at February 4, 2011 11:07 AM

Couldn't help wondering what you flew, who you flew for, and whether you're still flying now?

Posted by: styrgwillidar at February 4, 2011 12:24 PM

foxfier - "chunks big enough". Ha!! Good one

Styrgwillidar - I don't talk online about work, past or present, for many good reasons, but 10 years service in to Uncle Sam as an aviator and proud of it.

Posted by: Brigid at February 4, 2011 12:38 PM

Don't know if you are AFRC or ANG, but thank you for your service.

Your post I believe, is the real silent majority of women. My wife would like you and respect you, she is the most courageous female I know -she had to strike out on her own again with two small children as her first marriage was...well its not my place to divulge, but you understand.

Keep telling it as you see it, and keep shining the beacon.

Posted by: GyLar at February 4, 2011 12:45 PM


Posted by: Jon Brooks at February 4, 2011 02:08 PM

Thanks for your service. Flew USN helicopters off of frigates/destroyers/cruisers. Sorry, didn't mean to pry, just another area of common interest. Miss the military flying, the camraderie.

Posted by: styrgwillidar at February 4, 2011 05:04 PM

Thank you. It's women like you and my honey who make me proud to be a married man.

Posted by: 49erDweet at February 5, 2011 04:20 AM

It is strong women, with a mind and opinions that have saved me from a life of making a fool out of myself.

And frankly, I would not want it any other way.

God bless strong indenpdent free thinking women.

And that comes from a Deep southern man.

Posted by: Michael at February 5, 2011 08:46 PM

We'll see what happens with Richards. if burke throws loads of money at him and this man doesn't sign which is to be quite the canary.

Posted by: soccer live streaming video at February 6, 2011 02:01 AM

Great post!
I'm a woman and I've always said I'll never vote for a woman just because she's a woman. It's an insult to our intelligence to think we're stupid enough to vote for someone just because of their gender and not their politics.
Obama is a perfect example of that mentality...they voted for the first black man instead of the best black man and look where that has gotten us... Gender/race politics seems to be quite popular to Democrats...

Posted by: Whippet at February 6, 2011 02:34 AM

Well written, and my heart goes out to you - it is very hard to be strong enough to do what's right for you, instead of what everybody else thinks is right for you - I just wish it had not cost you so much.

I'm a Dad, and I gave your letter to my teen daughter to read. One of the things I tell her is that "The hardest part about being an adult, is that sometimes you have to act like one."

Posted by: Nemo at February 8, 2011 12:59 AM