I was born in 1977, 57 years after women were given the right to vote in the United States. Aside from receiving unequal pay and promotions, cringing at Sarah Palin's distortion of historical facts while she pretends to be a feminist, and fighting conservative efforts to keep their hands and superstitions off my body, I generally don't think about gender issues as they affect me. I don't consider myself a feminist.
Middle East women's issues are a different story, however, since I've worked in the Mideast field for more than a decade now and have encountered women who truly face oppression. The other day, a fully burka'd figure who got into my elevator caught me by surprise. This is Beirut, after all, not Kandahar. The shadowy figure not only wore the burka with gloves, but you could not even see its eyes. What had once been a human being had ceased being human; it was an object, a nothing. It creeped the hell out of me. I wanted to shake it into the twenty-first century. I wanted to rip that ugly black piece of cloth to shreds. I held my breath all the way up the elevator hoping it would crawl back into whatever fifteenth century hole it had come from. The figure hadn't even bothered to press a floor button - my liberation, manifested in my shorts and Cincinnati Reds baseball cap - was that much of a threat to its nothingness, and it waited until I got off on the fifth floor to push the third floor button.
I started this post before the news of Geraldine Ferraro's passing, but I'll just add a bit about her here. I was seven years old when Mondale/Ferraro signs were posted across America. As a little girl, I couldn't understand the significance of Ferraro's candidacy, and thanks to women like Ferraro, I didn't have to. Rarely have I ever felt the weight of oppression of my gender (though working in the Middle East field, it is detectable). I'm so lucky - the coincidence of my birth as an American has given me freedoms totally unknown to much of the world's female population. I count my blessings all the time, and I never take it for granted.
But there is one thing that really irks me even though I understand why it happens: the assumption that I am a guy in baseball cyberspace. Look, I get that most sports bloggers are guys and that my screenname is that of a male Greek architect and the male protagonist in books by James Joyce. In light of the Egyptian women who are being raped in the name of democracy, the it with breasts I encountered in the elevator, the women who are forced into sex slavery here in Lebanon and everywhere else, and all of the horrific things that happen to women across the globe, my irritation is petty and makes me feel guilty for even thinking about it at all. But it is demeaning nonetheless, so I just ask one small favor from baseball cyberspace: please, stop assuming an anonymous online identity has a protruding appendage in the nether regions of the body.
Today, a post of mine has been syndicated on the BlogHer.com network. I hope you will take the time to read "Clutch and Nerves" if you haven't already. And please head on over to BlogHer.com for some great women bloggers.
I thought I'd take the opportunity to highlight some of the women writing about baseball on the network.
Mia Mercado takes a look at two of the stars of the US Women's National Baseball Team.
Sarah ponders the retirement of Gil Meche.
JuliaJulesM reviews The Last Boy; Mickey Mantle Stories Come Alive by Jane Leavy.
I also encourage you to check out the "Convent" section in my sidebar, which is full of great women baseball bloggers.
Also, I'd like to ask that you make sure you check out the sponsors on the right sidebar from time to time. BlogHer is a great ad network with topnotch people on their staff. I am proud to be a part of it.