Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lady Doctor

I guess I've always been a feminist.

I'm certainly all for women. One of my earliest and fondest wardrobe memories is a t-shirt that claimed "anything boys can do, girls can do better" (ok, fine... even earlier and fonder was the cowgirl outfit with real tassels - yee haw!*). But my general genderal pride was likely just my competitive streak - it never really occurred to me that being female was a hindrance in any way. I could do anything a boy could do - and better - and dress up all country pretty to boot. I am woman, hear me roar.

My great-grandmother lived to be just shy of 100 years old, though she adamantly claimed to have already reached that milestone, her logic getting lost somewhere in the fact that she was IN her 100th year**. Whatever, when you are that old you can claim to be whatever you want, as far as I am concerned. When I'm 99 I plan on calling myself the Vice President of the United States - why not! The age-old confusion aside, my great-grandmother remained lucid and sharp her whole life. Sure she occasionally called me Charlotte and wondered how my pharmacy was doing, but the point is she was proud of both of us - Charlotte the Pharmacist and Michelle the Chiropractor. She would parade me around the nursing home, introducing me to everyone who would (or could) listen as her granddaughter, the 'Lady Doctor'. And not as in 'gynecologist' - this was not a third identity for me and Charlotte... I was Michelle Fagen, L.D. Not just any doctor... but a Lady Doctor. Now THAT is feminism.

Feminism has been on my mind a lot lately, what with Sarah Palin entering the political arena. She is a creepy sort of faux-feminist, a femin-ish if you will. On the one hand, hooray for potentially bringing a woman into the White House! On the other hand, is she really a feminist candidate when her policies seek to limit choice for women? Are you a feminist just by virtue of being feminine? Maybe I could tolerate her more if she stopped touting 'hockey mom' as a credential? And can she quit making that horrible joke about the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull being lipstick? Sure, in theory she represents progress for women... but when your supporters wear 'Hoosiers for the Hot Chick' and 'From The Coldest State Comes The Hottest V.P.' pins, well... one step forward, two steps back.

I'm not sure that this is the Lady Vice President we want. I look forward to witnessing a woman in the White House, because I want to see history made; because I think a woman can bring a unique approach to leadership that that country has not seen; because it shouldn't have taken this long; because we deserve to be represented; because why not? But I am more interested in witnessing a collective mentality that doesn't get so excited about the prospect of a woman in power at the expense of the appropriate woman in power. Be careful what you ask for, right sisters? Let's instead aim to hire the best person (male or female) for the job (chiropractor, pharmacist or vice president), but still be able to appreciate the unique qualities inherent in that person by nature of their gender.

I look forward to that time when working Ladies everywhere can wear lipstick (or not), and not need to compare themselves to a dog to prove that they mean business.

In the meantime, I'm still proud to be a Lady Doctor!

* ok - tell me the truth. I look like a young republican in this photo - no?

**I don't know that she was truly a 'feminist', but she was feisty, self-assured and intelligent, and dated more than any other woman in the nursing home. An inspiration to ladies everywhere.

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