I strongly applaud anyone who feels that they need to stand up for something they believe in; when they feel oppressed, when they see oppression; even when they fear oppression.
However, I am a woman in America and I do not feel oppressed. I have daughters in America and they are not oppressed. They have the same opportunities that my son does. They were not born into a country that does not allow them to choose a spouse, drive a car, vote, choose a job, go to school, have children when/ how they please, get birth control, wear what they want; basically any right that belongs to any human born in this country, my daughters have.
Further, I am a teacher. My pay is equal… I don’t know what it’s like to have to climb a corporate ladder being a woman or any of the jobs that women inherently have to work harder to get equal pay. But I’m okay knowing that if my daughters choose such a career that they will have to work hard… maybe even harder than a man… because we, as women, typically do. And I have faith that by the time my 9 year old is of job bearing age, this bar will be equal. I mean, in the history of our country, out of the 500 or so years we’ve been here, women have only worked for about 60 years… truly. So, we are relatively new.
(If there was a march about ensuring women and men to have maternity leave rights, I would be there. But I would pick up my mess after and I would be sure to include everyone who had an opinion on the matter.)
I was brought up by a mother who was a feminist. But my mother worked her ass off in a dog eat dog world- from a dishwasher, to a cook, to managing the kitchen. She dropped out of school, got married at 17 against her father’s wishes, she had children, got her GED, she had a career, and she quit her career when it was too much and needed to take care of her husband. She is a feminist that chose to stand by her husband and drop out of school to marry. My mother is proof that we are not oppressed. Work harder? Maybe. Deal with sexual harassment? Yeah. She was the butt of a few sexist jokes, she may have been offended, but she also wasn’t afraid to tell the person off. She didn’t get beat, whipped, or fired for calling a chauvinist to the carpet.
Feminism has taken a wrong turn. If you haven’t watched Emma Watson’s speech to the UN, you must, but she said this:
“I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”
“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals.”
And even greater:
“How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?”
Seriously. I’m afraid to say I’m a feminist, and in her speech she does talk about the unpopularity of the word. It’s a dirty word, synonymous with misogynist, and racist, which are all words that have been thrown around lately; with no real understanding of their meaning. People have been labeled these things based on their support of something. This is faulty reasoning. I have seen so much fallacious reasoning and some very dangerous rhetoric in the past few months, I’m appalled. Frightened, actually.
And in all honesty, after watching some of the speeches that occurred during the women’s march, I realize that I don’t stand behind those ideologies. I don’t support violence, name calling, insult throwing, etc. The same types of rhetoric that was used during a campaign that many stand against (which was not one sided, FYI) are being used by the very people who opposed it. So it’s dulling the cause, muting the point. Much like the people who turn protesting into riots: You’re being counterproductive and furthering the initial thought that caused you to want to protest to begin with.
Here’s the truth: Women do get raped in our country*. But other than this circumstance, women also choose to have sex- that is their right- and maybe this is where we should learn to make choices about our own body. That’s what I would march for. That maybe, just maybe, we can desexualize our country so that my daughters do not feel like they need to have sex with a man in order to feel love. That they do not feel like they have to have perfect bodies or that they do not have to give in when feel pressured. That my girls can stand on their own two feet, stand their ground, and say, “No.” We are worried about losing our rights, I get it. But to me, the two rights about abortion and women’s rights are not connected. I will not argue with anyone about abortion because I feel strongly about it and I’ve learned that arguing takes too much effort when I want to use all my extra energy for good; but I already have the right to do what I want with my body. I commend the women who argue for the rights of the females (and males) that are developing in the womb. It is such a heated topic that I know I will not make headway with it here, but I will say this: excluding pro-life feminists from a movement because you don’t think they fit the bill of feminism according to your terms is like saying a woman who has had an abortion can’t be Catholic. They can.
You can’t make this catch all rule/ label. I am pro-life. There I said it. But I’m not here to push my beliefs on you or make you feel any less because you are pro-choice or even had an abortion. I love someone dearly who has had one; that doesn’t make me think any less of them. It doesn’t make me love them any less. I wasn’t in their brain when they made the choice. But I do know how the decision still bothers them to this day. My choice for being ‘pro-life’ is because I value all life, including the unborn. It doesn’t mean that I oppose anyone who makes this choice. Are you seeing my reasoning? Probably not because I’m rambling… but I just want people to understand that they can think differently from someone and not hate them. They can stand in solidarity even though they have differences.
No one has said, “Women, get ready because you’re about to lose your rights to vote!” or “Women, guess what? Your pay is going to decrease!” or even “Soon, raping a woman will be legal!” If they would, give me a sign and I’ll be right there with you. I applaud all these historical women who fought for what for gender equality… without them we’d be in a much different place.
But we are not equal. We never will be. Women have different body roles and men have different roles. We were born with the ability to bear children and without a man, it can’t be done. We must learn to value the opposite sex because we are working symbiotically to further the human race. I do not think Clinton did not win because she’s female; it was not a sexist choice. Maybe some didn’t vote for her because she was female, but I know an alarming number of people who DID vote for her because she was female. This in itself is reverse feminism and I want no part in it. I don’t want a person to get a job just because she is female, I want her to get a job because she is the best person. I don’t want my girls to grow up feeling entitled to things just because they have a vagina… that’s not fair to them.
And right now, we are protesting out of fear. We are afraid because the media has swung things in certain ways. We are afraid because we believe in predictions. We are jumping to some pretty scary conclusions. Don’t trust the media with a blind eye. Don’t give it the power.
Human rights are inalienable in our country and there are women across this world that deserve to be fought for. Fight for them; for all women. Actually fight for all humans. They deserve us to give them just a fraction of freedom that we enjoy.
*Men get raped too.