Ride, Read, Ruminate
First Wombat Ride of Spring, and I had two women on board, Fran M. & Heather C., both feminist thinkers. I decided that along with tea and some trail mix, I’d throw out for perusal a special NYTimes supplement “Dealbook” from April 3.
I had been mulling (and fuming) over a story in it: “Women in a Man’s World”. Subheading: Wall street makes progress but lack of role models impeds equality say female executives.
Having just listened to the redoubtable (and for me previously unheard of) Barbara Garson on KPFA, speaking about her book Down the Up Escalator What this freedom fighter from the student rebellion era had to say was that the huge recession with its sweeping problems we face are social in origin, i.e. created by a system-wide failure of politics to protect citizens. But since Americans are so ingrained with the RuggedIndividualist mythos, they tend to blame themselves for when things go wrong, whether it’s unemployment or illness.
She pointed out that Europeans seem to see more clearly that the economic crisis is caused by the reckless financial practices of the “1%”. So they riot, demonstrate, become enraged. (Maybe even vote for social justice!)
So back toNYT story. The most powerful woman in banking, Irene Dorner, recalled that she didn’t complain when her male colleagues carried on misogynist banter. I thought: “OK, she’s just hanging onto her job, and I guess when her colleagues gathered at a bar she had to go along with it…”
Dorner elaborated that she thought she and other top women were poor role models, and so sparsely sprinkled throughout the upper echelons of finance that they were not visible enough for people to work out how to do what we did”.
Reading that made me have to bring it to our ride. I need to have some corroboration of my irritability with some of the premises of the story. I don’t think Wall Street ‘made progress’. It’s gone backward, retrenched itself. The men will not willingly yield the reins. The reins must be grabbed.
It was a quick 2 hour, 8 or so mile jaunt (though it grew to 15 miles, partly because I’d frittered considerable time away yakking with strangers instead of focusing on my bat-friends, and I felt I owed ‘em more miles & smiles). To pull out the paper and ask other opinions was a stretch. Heather took the bait, read the story and said “Yes, they do seem to blame themselves, and why do they have to do things like the men do anyway? Isn’t that why everything is so messed up? Why can’t the men take a clue from the way women do business?”
Is there a cogent answer to this simple question from a 29 year old kid?
I mean, why would the guys in power ever bother taking a lesson from women, unless it somehow proved to be even more profitable than the rapacious b.s. that they’ve been perpetrating all along? The giant bank bonuses, the golden parachutes, the concentration of wealth.
I wanted to write a letter to Ms. Dorner, sharing my insights about being in a so-called Men’s World of Mtn Biking.
But I’ve written to Powerful Women’s Organizations before. Nice thoughtful letters on WOMBATS letterhead, Crane’s rag paper, the whole deal.
NEVER a reply. My pitch was always (and always will be) “hey, I know what you’re talking about, have been there, and would like to offer my services to get your members comfortable and competent on a mountain bike. Golf is so last millenium”.
Maybe it was the dig about golf?
I didn’t include a picture of our ride, but might tomorrow. I’m tired.
This probably doesn’t conform to my usual cheery blog habit. But hell, I’m rather irritated. WOULD SOMEONE PLEEZ COMMENT ON MY STORY?