by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
January 2, 2008
AN OPINIONATED WOMAN
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- I am very tired of being criticized for having strong opinions on major issues. And of far greater significance, I am extremely tired of males so fearful of a strong woman like Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan's former prime minister) they murder her on a day full of sunshine before the eyes of little children, hopeful Muslim women ... and the world.
As though Bhutto's strong opinions were some kind of odious disease. As though passion about equality for women and education for girls is as socially incorrect as daring to look directly into a man's eyes, or as religiously horrifying as forgetting to wear a buraka in 120 degrees of Middle East heat.
As though one of my personal "strong opinions" has the power to change the price of nail polish at Wal-Mart or - as Bhutto's did - alter the course of history.
When American men have strong opinions on the price of corn in Kansas, that makes them well-informed. When a woman expresses loud concern that the price of corn in Kansas will affect the price of her cornbread muffins that makes her "opinionated and bitchy."
Too far back for me to remember, American women started practicing: Nice is nice. Don't get involved. Adopt your husband's religion. Let your husband influence your vote. Never say a word if your son-in-law is a jerk who verbally and psychologically abuses your daughter. And, for goodness sakes, never, never talk about politics, sex or religion in public.
Bull feathers and monkey manure. Deliver me from having lunch with a woman who wants to whine about the rain, or describe in detail the passing of her dear canary, Fluffy.
Opinionated female writers are also frequently accused of "glittering generalizations, as in: "Men are not intellectually, or spiritually, superior to women." "Women have one half of the world's brains, creativity, ideas, decision-making abilities, etc."
Well, twiddle dee and dumb.
I challenged anyone and everyone to write or speak for one day without using generalizations.
The media family, of which I am one tiny voice writing into the wind, could not give you the news without generalizations.
Indulge me, please. Count the number of times today your local newspaper or television media break down "the news" into specifics.
For example, when have you ever read, or heard, a bit of detailed news that went like this: "Iraqi men rioted today, protesting the occupation of Iraq by American male soldiers." Or "Adult males and young boys looted stores and rioted through the streets of Baghdad after a male terrorist blew himself up near a school, killing seven little boys and five girls."
Correct, if you will, the generalized incorrectness of the following statements:
A. Southern Baptists don't believe in female pastors. The specific, accurate wording would read "Southern Baptists men don't believe Southern Baptist women should be Southern Baptist pastors." (And if Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher, makes it to the White House I am moving to a cave in the far corners of Siberia.)
B. Americans believe in a democracy of equality. The accurate version would read" American males pretend to believe in equality but the majority of government officials are male; the majority of "bosses" in the marketplace are still male; males still rule the roost in most American homes and in the military, and in the one sure place that defines a woman's true eternal identity, the pulpit. Before and after Eve got blamed because Adam ate that stupid apple, women have been locked out of preaching their definition of God in the church building, the temple, the synagogue and the evangelical revival tent.
What, I wonder, would happen to our daily news - and to our religious structures - if they were specific and not general? As in "The mostly male Congress voted today to ... ." As in "The mostly male bosses in the Wall Mall, where 73 percent of the minimum-wage employees are women, voted today to give themselves another raise." As in "God is love but HE thinks more highly of men than women. After all, God is a man." (Not.)
Let's go back for a moment to my socially incorrect "strong opinions."
I promise you if we are having lunch and you say to me "What do you think about President Bush's mess in Afghanistan?", I promise you will not hear me giggle, cover my mouth with my hand, bat my eyelashes, and say sweetly "Oh, I don't know anything about that. My mama said a lady never discusses religion, politics, or sssss ... er ... sex."
I further promise you that when I ask what you thought when Hillary Clinton did not throw Bill out the White House window because he "did not have sex with that woman," I will be expecting an honest answer and your definition of what "nt having sex" nd "aving sex" entail (no pun intended).
I much prefer the company of both men and women who have strong opinions on the major issues that affect all of us. I frequently find, however, that most women are more interested in the latest style of shoes than the fact that while they are getting their hair done thousand of little girls and women around the globe are being sold and used as sex-slaves. Many American male CEOs are guilty of perpetuating this insane use of enslaved women and small girls ... and most of my world sisters are guilty of not caring.
For my up-close-and-personal circle, I look for, and find, a few good men who don't feel threatened by a woman with strong opinions. Good men who have the honesty and courage to say "I agree with you, Elizabeth. Men are still controlling the world. We are responsible for the blood on our history books and for the current international nuclear threat of planet destruction. But you know what, Elizabeth? Until the women of the world stand up and scream 'Knock it off! We're sick of you telling us how to sharpen your pencils and when, where and how we should pray,' and 'We are very sick of your misguided notion that violence is the solution to anything and everything you don't agree with,' ... until then, Elizabeth, things will go on as they are."
And we will all keep on burying war-dead babies. We'll keep on pretending men can and should decide what's best for the women and children of the world. And we can shout today that the courageous Bhutto was probably killed by a man - or group of men - who are scared to death of any women with strong opinions on serious issues that affect her life.
And that's my opinion.
Elizabeth T. Andrews lives in Cartersville, Ga. Her Website, www.treefamilyfoundation.com, contains her columns and poetry.