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Unwilling or unable?

It seems hardly a day goes by now when I’m not frustrated by the overwhelming white-straight-maleness of the world in which we live.  At work, the entire chain-of-command above me is male and white and straight. During my postgrad degree, I’ve had just one female lecturer, and one male lecturer who wasn’t white. Political parties are run by white, straight men.  Sure, we have Kristina Kennelly in NSW, but she wasn’t the leader of the party during an election.  We’ll see how well she goes against a straight, white man in 2010.

And every day, I read blogs and articles and features about American politics, my real interest and my not-so-secret ambition.  Looking at my Google reader, looking at the list of contributors on various sites, I’m always disheartened by their straight-white-maleness, but most particularly by the maleness.  There’s one or two female contributors here or there, but given the rates at which women are now achieving university degrees, it just seems entirely disproportionate.

But then I get frustrated, because for all my complaining, why is that not me?  Why am I not a successful political pundit, or running for office, or  writing that first, great novel?  I have the capacity, I don’t doubt that.  But somehow, I lack the will.  This blog, which I’d hoped to be my political voice, often descends into ramblings about music and my life, overly personal and not overly insightful.  I can’t seem to find time in my days- or, more accurately perhaps- I can’t seem to find the energy in my days to think, really think, and come up with good ideas.

And I’m not interested in the party process in Australia, unwilling to toe the line against my better judgement, and to play games in local organisations, so I’ve closed that door too.  Even at uni this semester, I’ve been struggling extraordinarily, sure to bring down my to-this-point strong average because I’m having trouble focusing and I just can’t get my head in the game.

So here my feminism and the reality of my life meet: is it fair for me to expect of others what I can’t seem to do myself?  And is this strange unwillingness, this lack of focus, this frustration, the product of a world in which women are expected to bear the burdens of so many, largely home-based expectations, that we’re distracted from arguably bigger things.

Would I be more successful if I didn’t worry about my weight?  Have I internalized myths about domesticity to the extent that I am crippled by my need to have a tidy house?  Is the pressure I feel to do “normal” things on a “normal” timetable, like settling down, somehow undermining my drive to take extraordinary risks?

Or am I just lazy?

Or is it that, as a woman, I have to work extra hard, be extra-extraordinary, in order to get the opportunities?  Can I write with an authentic voice and still be heard, or do I have to mimic a male one?

I wonder whether my frustration stems from my unwillingness to do anything to affect change, or whether it comes from the fact I already am trying, and just treading water…

2 thoughts on “Unwilling or unable?

  1. To be fair, In the same post-grad course, I’ve had four male lecturers and three female. (Or, if you count by courses, four taught by men, four by women.) Whether by coincidence or otherwise, however, I’ve taken three courses at UW, all taught by men.

    Other than that, your life circumstances surely influence your capacity to achieve what you want, though we probably disagree as to how. But surely the important thing is not specifically whether your ambitions are being thwarted (though that is awful), but whether women’s ambitions are being thwarted. If the women who have the capacity and the will are being thwarted (as, given education rates, we must surely assume they are) then that is surely the far more pressing problem.

    Although not the only problem, of course. Because perhaps there are successful men with ability but without will who still stumble into success. Or, more likely, there are men with ability who might find it easier to have will?

    I like this one.

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