Confessions of a Useless Female
I found a video by a kick-ass feminist. I started commenting on her video, and started typing a post instead.
I’m showing this video to my son, who is a ten year-old feminist. He once looked at a place mat of the US Presidents. I knew my kid was smart, but I realized he was the most brilliant person I will ever know. He looked up and down both sides of his place mat. Then looked me dead in the eye, and asked, “Mom, where is the girl president?’ That’s my boy!
My very first experience with term, Useless Female, was this:
It was July, 1990. I was in boot camp. I was out alone in the middle of the day, making my way back to my barracks from a doctor’s appointment. Recruits, as we were called, always walked in groups, but sometimes recruits would be out alone for appointments.
A drill instructor of an all male company, stopped me, and ordered me to come up and stand with him in front of this company. He then pointed out how bad my clothing looked, he reached into my front breast pocket, pulled out my ID and shouted about how stupid I was because it was not lined up correctly. He pointed and spoke about me as though I were a mannequin,not a human being standing next to him. I did understand why. He was explaining to his company of recruits that there was no lower form of life than a useless female. I only remember screaming and the word pussy a lot. He punctuated I think every talking point with, the question, “Do you want to be a useless female?” to his company. I was 19. I had been there maybe eleven days. Boot cam hadn;t formally started for me yet, because we were being acclimated and in a temporary holding barracks. I really did not know how to speak up for myself at the time.
I had been there less than two weeks, and that was just the beginning of the humiliation and ass-grabbing that was accepted as the norm. I still don’t know how to wrap my head around that part of my military experience. I do think it is important to share this story. The story I have is not unique, we still have a long way to go to before we can even entertain the idea that the problem of sexual discrimination, harassment and worse in the military, is a thing of the past.
Many things have changed, but not the attitude that women are unequal. It’s getting better, but I am still called Mr. Vasquez at the Veteran’s Hospital. Actually, I have been a service connected veteran for 20 years now, because when I was 20, I did body work on boats, but I was not given the proper safety equipment until I could prove I could work as hard as a man. I was temporarily from our ship to repair small boats. I was one of two females. We both worked over 14 hour days for weeks, wearing dust masks and using masking tape on each other to pull fiberglass out of our skin at the end of each day. We proved that we could work harder than the guys. So we “won” our respirators. Oh and the guys we beat, were sent back to our ship, while we stayed behind for the coveted spots we had one. Of course, according to them, we had sex with the officer in charge to get the coveted spots.