Afscme Local 444, retired
This article I link to below resonates with me but it also makes me mad. The reason it resonates with me is that as a union steward I was instrumental in getting and improving a woman's bathroom in my workplace. I worked in a blue collar workplace and we never had any women in there at all excepting the two female clerks.
We men had one of those huge bathrooms with numerous urinals, a couple of pretty good showers and a large fountain like hand washing apparatus. That was to be expected, our work was very dirty in the sense that we worked with the earth. I worked for a water utility, either fixing leaks or installing new services or mains. I worked in factories and offices a couple times and always thought having my hands in mud was by far cleaner and a lot healthier.
When we finally started getting women, just one or two, working alongside us then things needed to change.
We live in a male dominated sexist society so it is natural for men to have ideas that reflect this. Like racism, it is primarily a social problem. But a union really makes a difference, or it has the potential to for sure. Working alongside women but especially fighting alongside them in the union is far more productive than classes on sexism or the university environment, same goes for racism. It is not always the case, and the women that came in to our world definitely had a struggle ahead of them. But they were tough women, they were determined to make a path for themselves and for those women that followed. Two of the presidents of my union were women in the time I was there and other women were also activists.
A former president told me that it was very difficult at times, that for years if she asked for help she was weak, if she didn't she was a cold bitch. But in my unit the union was strong and we struggled very hard to ensure that any woman coming in was not isolated. We always said that there are two sources of power in the workplace, the organized workers and the boss. If a woman or any minority didn't feel the organized workers wanted them in, they only had one other source of power to turn to and it was inside the bosse's office. It was in our self interest as men and workers to ensure a woman and all workers felt included, secure and one of us.
I am disgusted by some of the comments quoted in this article. How can we as men, having been fed, sometimes at our mothers' breast, clothed, cleaned as helpless babies, taught by our mothers, have such disrespect for women that is exhibited by these politicians; some of them religious conservatives? And the people who sit behind a computer screen protected by the luxury of anonymity trashing women make me sick. It's not that they're cowards, which they are, but their mentality, their complete detachment from the best part of human nature that runs through us like a thread, solidarity, compassion, love for all things.
I have no time for Hillary Clinton, as a Democrat she is a representative of the ruling class and Wall Street. She is no friend of working class women and will savage them when she becomes president. Margaret Thatcher's policies brutalized women. But the way she has been treated by some of the politicians and the Internet trolls will only strengthen her position among women, it will help her because their attacks are attacks on Clinton as a woman not as a politician and all women will sympathize with this and rightly so.
Hillary Clinton was a bit late coming back from a bathroom break during the recent debate. She has been attacked for it of course. I remember being at sports bar and it was packed for a major game. The woman had two cubicles in their bathroom, the men didn't fare much better but there was two urinals and two cubicles.
Women take a little longer as Clinton pointed out, in this case there was a line a mile long with women waiting to go. I opened the male door and ushered them in. Almost all the guys were sympathetic but one who got quite nasty with me. But it turned out alright and a lot of humor surfaced, not laughing at people but with them and the women gave as good as the men. Women, for most of us, are our most intimate partners. They take care of us when we're sick, raise children and work at the same time and are our allies in the struggle against the 1% for a better world. More than half the world's factory workers are women today and it has been women that have led the struggles int he factories of Bangladesh and other low waged economies.
I am not free of sexist ideas. How can we be? We live in a society with sexist ideas. Like many others I am learning, sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes learning is not quick enough. But I do know as a socialist that working class unity that is necessary to eliminate capitalism, is impossible without smashing both racial and gender division. Below is a link to the article that compelled me to sit down here and write this not very well thought out commentary. But I needed to get it out. There is a video at the end of the article that I have not watched.
"I know where she went, it's disgusting, I don't want to talk about it," Trump said, talking about it. "No, it's too disgusting. Don't say it, it's disgusting, let's not talk." Donald Trump on Hillary Clinton's bathroom break.