Power differentials

It worked like this: I’d have a long-term girlfriend, and a series of affairs (with guys and girls) on the side. The girls always knew about everyone else, and the boys didn’t. Or, if the boys knew, they didn’t hear it from me. Why did the girls know, but the boys didn’t? Honestly, my rationale doesn’t make any sense to me. But, the girls were secrets. My family—and frequently the girls’ families—were adamantly anti-gay. In fact, I didn’t even meet an out lesbian until college, though I’d been dating girls for years by then. Relationships with girls were secrets we kept from everyone else, but also, at times, from each other. What I mean is, we were hardly honest about the depth of feeling between us. We were hardly honest.

Was I wrong? Well, obviously everyone deserves full disclosure. So, yes, I was wrong. My choice, I think, came from an interest in self-preserving discretion, but something else as well. I was attempting to combat the power differential of my relationships with boys being perfectly acceptable, while my relationships with girls were disallowed. I was trying to give the relationships with girls secret power because in every other way those relationships were off balance. Ridiculous, right? I was trying to give them a kind of equality. The girls will know everything because the boys get everything. Equality, of course, doesn’t work that way. However, play through: If everyone had full disclosure, would we then have equality? No. My relationships with girls would never be treated the same as my relationships with boys. Not by my family, not by my school, not by society, not legally, etc. The disparity is everywhere.

And here’s the thing about equality, if we had universal health care, and it didn’t cover reproductive health, that would be equal, right? If reproductive health weren’t covered for men, and it weren’t covered for women, that’s legal equality. Nobody gets it. So we’re even. But women need reproductive health coverage. We REQUIRE it. At some point, we’re going to have to discuss the fact that women and men do not have the same requirements. That being treated fairly, and being treated equally are not the same thing. These differences aren’t nuance, or special rights, they’re basic biology. There are differences between men and women, and those differences aren’t weakness. They must be accounted for, the way we account for differences in landscape when we decide which crops can be planted, and which animals farmed, and houses built, and jobs required. These differences are facts, and they shouldn’t go unmentioned simply because the dialogue about them is difficult.

2 thoughts on “Power differentials”

  1. Contrariwise, if guys don’t have to bear children of rape, women shouldn’t either. If guys don’t have to pay for their pregnancies, women shouldn’t either. It’s like trying to split a bill where both parties pay $10, but the balance is $25: I can pay $10 and you get the rest, or you can pay $10 and I get the rest, and it makes all the difference in the world.

  2. I like it, Tim. If our equality is not based on the lowest common denominator, then we’re golden. If we aren’t begrudging about the distribution of safeguards, and if we understand our responsibility for children is an issue beyond gender lines, we’ll move forward.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle