It’s Time to Shatter One of the Biggest Remaining Glass Ceilingsby Amit Wehle on May 01, 2013
Hillary Clinton’s concession speech in 2008, the one where she bowed out of the race for the Democratic nomination, contained a historic line: “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling, this time, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.”
Yes, the inevitable and righteous path toward the first female president is well underway. And yes it is only, thankfully a matter of time before our country joins dozens of other modern (and even a few less modern) nations who have elected a female leader. In the meantime, there are plenty of other glass ceilings we can all get to work on cracking. Even the seemingly-smallest of ceilings. Like the ones that exist in our own homes, and affect our lives every day.
Yes, I’m talking about women farting. And pooping. And everything else that goes on in the bathroom. According to The Daily Beast, women face a world of anxiety when it comes to doing either at the office. And as any woman who’s ever spent the night at a significant other’s place can attest, the anxiety doesn’t stop when you’re not at work.
Inside the bounds of many, many relationships, a woman’s freedom to let loose her stinkies (or burp, or go hard after a booger, you get the drift) in the same cavalier fashion as her male counterpart is still millions of cracks away. That’s a ton of cracks! Cracks that are packed deep with the cement of social constructs and blind allegiance.
I place the blame for this phenomenon on two sets of people: Men and Women. Let’s start with the guys. Men (for the most part) still hold on to the notion that women are an intrinsically pure breed of human-unicorn that emits nary a foul odor. Or rather, not that they “are,” but that they should be. Why, you ask? Because many men think they need women to be this fantasy. Life is dirty and messy and smelly and tough, the theory goes, and to counter this horror, we want to live and breathe among something that is the embodiment of everything beautiful (and fresh-scented). In other words, we rely on this objectified version of women as an agreed-upon mode of escapism.
As a result, when a man hears his girlfriend of five months rip an impressive fart in the living room, the illusion is shattered. The veil is lifted on the magic show we willfully bought tickets to. Dear God, who is this person who just ass-bombed me, burped up her meatball sub in my face, and is currently smooshing her buggers under my coffee table? This person is a mere human being, like me! Cannot. Emotionally. Compute.
The other culprit in this arrangement is women. Women, most of whom have been told since their earliest days that burping is rude. That farting is brutish and ugly. That legs and armpits, upper lips and butt-cracks are to be shaved, plucked, trimmed, waxed, and bleached at any cost. In other words, that being “ladylike” trumps being humanlike. And if you want to make it around here, best to play by the rules laid out before you.
And so we have a long and solidified system in place that keeps one part of being human the sole domain of only one type of human.
But like all contracts built on misconception and inequality, this contract too is starting to show some cracks. I somehow doubt we’re going to see some sort of epic sea change in the next few months, but I think there is a movement of bodily function and fluid equality making its way into the mainstream.
At present, it may only be heard in bedrooms in Brooklyn, coffee shops in San Fran, hotel rooms in Austin, or picnic blankets in Portland, but slowly the sounds of a young woman farting or belching or peeing with the door open after date no. 12 is coming to pass. The movement will grow. Credit great female comedians like Fey, Poehler, Wiig, and McCarthy, or even Lena Dunham and the cast of “Girls” — the redefining of what it sounds like and smells like to be a woman is slowly shifting. And that is a good thing. We’re still far from blasting the ceiling off this gas and fluid meritocracy, but know this: the winds of change are coming. Yes, we did just say that.
Amit Wehle is a writer and thoughtsmith, living in Brooklyn. He also tweets @AmitWehle.