The following editorial, written by Alexandria Pudney, a Brookline resident, is a response to Town Warrant Article 18. Article 18 calls for the Town to officially refer to women who serve on the Brookline Board of Selectmen as Selectwomen.
Brookline has been buzzing these past few weeks with an attention-grabbing proposal, championed by Town Meeting member Michael Burstein to change the Board of Selectmen to Board of Selectwomen.
The title change is symbolic. Symbolism can be powerful. There is a continued shortage of women in leadership positions despite the advances we’ve made in the workforce and, in effect, a far slimmer scope of role models for young girls to look at when aspiring to powerful positions. Would a “Board of Selectwomen” remind young girls what is possible for them? Perhaps. But as the schoolgirls of today grow into adulthood, they will continue to face obstacles that are much bigger and prejudices that run much deeper than a symbolic title change from man to woman.
Brookline already holds a reputation as an insulated, limousine liberal town detached from reality. This move doesn’t exactly serve Brookline, or its women, well. Our society has serious problems to fight, and we should not be wasting our time and energy on the cosmetic ones. We should be focused on inclusive solutions, not a Band-Aid that pays lip service to equality and only serves to further divide us and draw ridicule from those who do not understand or do not care about feminism.
To the men supporting this proposal – we are in this together. There are real problems plaguing our society, and we need real solutions. A town board title change is not the answer. We need your voices fighting for paid family leave, wage equality and to encourage a culture of respect where a woman can use her full voice and express her full needs without fear of shame and ridicule. Speak out against those who would silence these arguments and who refuse to engage on an equal playing field. Help by fighting for real change, not superficial titles.
-Alexandria Pudney, Brookline Resident