Guest Author - Gina Cowley
One is likely to overhear almost anything in a small town, waiting for the oil to be changed in her car at the local garage. Not one of the new chain garages where women’s magazines outnumber the magazines on hunting, sports and car parts. Not a garage where the coffee is fresh and the bathroom is sanitary with a lock on the door sufficient enough so that one may conduct her business without worry. This is the garage many of us grew up with in small town America – one in which the mechanics’ hands are gnarled and grimy. Fingernails black. One in which red rags hang from back pockets and the smell of dirt and petro hang heavily, especially in the summer. Where something peculiar is going on with the dirt on the floor and the receipt for work done is handwritten and not computer generated. This is a garage not many women visit, nor one which seeks to cater to the woman who does not have a man to keep her engine running for her. The woman who visits this garage is usually carrying sandwiches, a cake, a jug of iced tea to the men who work there - or a grand-baby down to see its PawPaw. You get the picture.
And so . . .when one overhears in this garage that a vote for one contender in a Democratic primary was specifically a vote against the other, what does that mean inasmuch as the political progression of women in this country is concerned? And what does it mean that race, while still very much an issue was not as significant as gender when it came to deciding how to vote? And is the mindset of a small community, the mindset of the nation as well – spoken aloud, mulled over with no thought toward political correctness? After all, political correctness has no place in a genuine and legitimate discussion of politics. And what does it mean that women’s suffrage is still a humorous negative as in “when ‘we’ gave ‘them’ the right to vote . . .”
Considering that even the suffrage movement in this country nor what became the “feminist” ideal included a racially diverse group of women nor encompassed the particularized problems faced by black women in America, is there anything but a legitimate place for racial and gender considerations in American politics when it comes to choosing the next leader of the free world? On this day, in one small town, after a Democratic primary, in this garage, “a man of any color before a woman” is how votes were cast.
The only people in the garage besides me are the heirs in every physically similar way of the one dynamic in this country never to have faced discrimination - heirs of the original revolutionaries who founded this country – whose ideals have been interpreted to include gender and race, albeit slowly and with much suffering, and I can’t help but think we’re getting there – albeit slowly but maybe with less suffering. It has improved, hasn’t it? As one president reminded us during tumultuous times, "we are all heirs of the revolution."
The physically similar heirs of the revolutionaries are exceedingly paternalistic in making certain that when I drive away; my car is as safe as the vehicles that carry the women they love. I leave with no worry that work has been done which was not needed nor that I was charged excessively. I am more comfortable taking my car to this garage than one with women’s magazines and a sufficient lock on the bathroom door. I felt good when I left. Where that fits my politics, and if it does, and if it should, I don’t know. Do you?