Speaking of Women's Rights: Be It Resolved . . .

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Be It Resolved . . .

Yes, it’s a cliché, the making of resolutions around the New Year. But, as is often the case, it’s a cliché at least partly because the tradition is so well-established; in fact, some sources say people have been making resolutions as long ago as 2,000 BCE, when the Babylonians started the new year by vowing to return borrowed items to their neighbors. That’s a nice, simple one, and easy to keep, you’d think. Unless you’re Herb Woodley, Dagwood Bumstead’s next door neighbor, who apparently finds it impossible to return Dagwood’s tools to him.

At any rate, returning borrowed items is a heck of a lot easier than keeping the 72 resolutions penned by colonial minister Jonathan Edwards. (Actually, almost anything is easier than whatever Jonathan Edwards did or told others to do.) So I decided to come up with a manageable number of resolutions that I have some slight chance of keeping.

1. I will seek out and talk to more people who don’t necessarily agree with me. True, those folks are harder to find in Seattle than in some other places, but I am sure they are out there, and such conversations could result in my learning something new or even persuading others to think more openly about controversial or challenging issues.

2. Instead of just rolling my eyes, venting to colleagues, and then letting it go when I encounter something sexist, racist, homophobic or otherwise offensive, I will quietly, respectfully and clearly challenge the remark. For example, why does the author of this article in the Washington State Bar News think that only women file ex parte (without notice) orders in divorces? Perhaps this item should go under the first resolution, but really: can we dispense with the sexist stereotyping? Yes, this will be a hard one to keep, at least as to the ‘quietly and respectfully’ part.

3. In keeping with my nerd identity, I will brush up on the rules of grammar. This one, of course, is to keep me happy and to balance out possible challenges with the preceding two. The groans you can still hear emanate from my co-workers, who think I am too obsessed already, so I will add to this resolution the intent to avoid over-sharing my delightful grammar, syntax and vocabulary findings.

4. Also in the “this can be fun” department, and related to #2, I will keep my eyes open for language that reinforces gender stereotyping, and attempt to send prompt, pithy missives to journalists, public figures, editorial writers and others who default to time-worn phrases like “feisty woman” (are any men feisty? Yes, if they are gay). And while I am on that subject, do we need to know that a woman who stages PR events in Washington, D.C., is “flame-haired and voluptuous”? (That would be “NO,” even if the article is in the Style section.)

5. Seeking greater opportunities to carry out #4, I will learn about subjects in which I am not well-versed, such as economics, transportation, energy science and policy, roller derby . . . .

6. Finally, with all that learning and engaging and scrutinizing, I should be able to find more fun topics to blog about.

If you have resolutions to suggest to me, feel free to comment. I will endeavor to respond cheerfully and with an open mind. (See # 1.)

Happy new year to all, and to all a peaceful, prosperous 2011.