On Watching the News¹
She wonders² if³ it is time4 to give up5 on the “all6 men7 are created8 equal”9 thing.10
¹ Knowing that she does not know the half of it.
² A wondering woman is a solitary thing. Women scholars are less likely than their male counterparts to publish, so whatever they wonder, whatever they discover, whatever they conclude, is less likely to ever reach an audience. She can wonder all damn day.
³ Not finding as many avenues for intellectual notoriety also affords a perverse sort of freedom. She can postulate any number of ideas, and since no one is listening, she’ll not have to prove any of them. An unproven “if” is a lover who does not require a commitment, who does not return messages or stay for breakfast.
4 She paid attention in history class. It’s been a long time: millennia. Real thousands of years, and it’s always a question of who gets to be equal now, and here, and for how long.
5 It would be a jolt, for sure. Loss of one’s illusions always is. A shower helps, and a long walk for coffee, but the fact remains you’ve been sleeping with a liar for a long time. But he is so pretty, and he talks so nice, and he has all the money.
6 “All” is a lot. All is: every single one. No exceptions for stupid men, murderous men, rich men, power-hungry men, meek men, poor men, brown men, mean men, crude men, illiterate men, tall men, salesmen, chairmen, anchormen, policemen, deliverymen, congressmen, churchmen. She knows all women are not created equal. She does not have to wonder about that.
7 It doesn’t say “people,” it says “men.” It can be spun out any way she chooses, but the Founding Fathers and their penises had a very clear idea of precisely who they were referring to. They didn’t find it necessary to define their terms. They assumed much. They assumed white, too.
8 Stipulating a creator. Stipulating a boss. Stipulating a grand decider, a hierarchy, a tacit man. As if we know what god thinks. As if even a man—a white, rich, well-educated one at that—could assume to know the mind of this creator person. As if there were a creator person.
9 As if there were a way to be equal. If all men (okay—she would consider it a step forward if at least that much were true), just the men, even, if all of them were created equal, then everything that happens after is either that man’s fault or that man’s triumph. If every semen squirt up into that damp box canyon were anonymous, if every dividing egg were autonomous, if every slick and bloody entrance into the world were completely divorced from the panting dam and the pacing sire, if all that were true, “equal” might be a word we could use. Or “same.” But we know. We know that’s not true. The smallest child knows it is not true.
10 The next line in that Declaration is all about inalienable rights. Oh, right. Those.
Ginny MacDonald lives, gardens, works, and snowshoes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with her husband and their dogs.