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Least sexist state? Not yet, Alaska, not yet

  • Author: Shannyn Moore
    | Opinion
  • Updated: January 13
  • Published January 13

Have you ever made a statement, something you thought seemed pretty obvious, and then had to roll it around in your brain for a bit because, well, maybe it wasn't right? I guess this is what we call "learning." As the child of two educators, I can't shy away from seizing my own "teachable moments."

To understand my mindset, you might need to dose yourself up with 10,000 milligrams of pure Vitamin D and turn on your S.A.D. light. (The Seasonal Affective Disorder full spectrum light is supposed to make you less depressed and suicidal. So far it's working.)

Education advocate Alyse Galvin announced her candidacy for Congress during a campaign launch event at the 49th State Brewing Co. in Anchorage on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. (Bill Roth / ADN)

This week, Congressman Don Young was named "dean" of the House of Representatives. You know, the one member to hold the rest to high levels of decorum and decency. The bar is now set at wearing a beanie with a propeller on it and waving around the penis bone of a walrus during committee meetings to try to make a point.

Also this week, Alyse Galvin, an Alaska schools advocate, announced her candidacy for Alaska's U.S. House seat. Yes, the same seat Don Young has just about worn the cushions out of. Galvin is running as an Independent — you know, the non-party that if it were a party would be the majority party in Alaska.

So, back to the statement that I'm having to rethread through my own brain. When I was asked by an out-of-stater if running a woman was viable in Alaska, I responded with, "Alaska is one of the least sexist states."

Read that again. Please don't confuse sexist with sexiest. They are different and it's hard to gauge sexiness when half the year you have to wear so many layers it's difficult to even tell a person's gender. Sexist is thinking women are less because being born without a penis is seen as a birth defect that causes learning disabilities and social irrelevance.

Wait! Before you agree or disagree, I have evidence! Women in Alaska were able to vote seven years before the passage of the 19th Amendment. Abortion was decriminalized by a Republican majority in the Legislature three years before Roe v Wade because of our constitutionally granted "right to privacy." There isn't a single job I can think of in Alaska that a woman hasn't done. (I did Google if our state has a sperm bank, and we do not.) Women run fishing boats, mining dredges, tour companies, log trees, do North Slope work and marine science, while some are preachers and others run and have won the Iditarod. We've elected women to our highest offices. Please note, electing women isn't always the same as voting for the feminist in a race. A woman has won a statewide write in campaign, for crying out loud — or quietly in your car when the results were announced. Former first ladies are still heroines to many of us decades after their service to our state.

OK. I'll take a breath. I've been telling myself my whole life that Alaska is more enlightened than other places because some of the most incredible women in the world call this place home. We may be better than some places, like Somalia, but 59 percent of our women experience gender-based violence in their lifetimes — that's twice the world's average. We have the highest national rates of domestic violence and rape. Rural and indigenous women aren't protected by law enforcement adequately. In too many sectors, women are not paid equally for the same job.

You don't have to be a woman to absolutely hate these truths. It just makes you a human.

I  no longer stand by "Alaska is one of the least sexist states." I am not done, for one second, to stop working to move us forward toward that goal. Alyse Galvin is a good start in that direction. The 2018 election is prime for real change, and for the better. It's time to say enough is enough and too much is nasty. We've got much of the equation for equality, which puts us in a position to lead, not follow. It's time for us to roll up our sleeves and be resolved to not rest until Alaska equally supports the futures of our daughters and our sons.

Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser.

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