I came to the realization this morning that the women’s rights movement has stalled out and is stuck somewhere in the 1980’s in the USA. The rhetoric that has been invading my news feeds for the past month about the issue of abortion rights, equal pay for equal work, and whether or not women can really “have it all” has just flabbergasted me. Now, I know that I should not be shocked; this is something that I remind myself daily so that I don’t face-palm from the stupidity.
First things first- WHY, please tell me WHY, are men on Capitol Hill STILL trying to tell me what to do with my own body as though they somehow know better than I do how a woman should take care of herself? If this were a debate taking place amongst women and MY peers, then that would be more acceptable, but these are men who live in their own little upper-class reality. I understand that this is fiscally motivated, but do they not understand what will happen if they stop all reproductive assistance? Will they wonder why the number of welfare recipients goes up in a couple of years or why the number of cases of HIV and AIDS skyrockets? Oh, wait- that doesn’t affect their country club, so there must not be a reason for them to be concerned about it.
The social context of Conservative vs. Liberal is still there, but the politicians are taking up this banner because it is more polarizing and an easier topic to inflame the masses than actually offering some solutions to the economic issues that are by far more pressing, in my humble opinion. Here is a clip from the Huffington Post about the “No Personhood” Campaign out of Colorado. CLICK ME One of these days, it would be refreshing for the men in this country to remember that the vast majority of women do not take the decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly and that they really don’t have a say in whether or not it happens. I will remind you of WHY Roe vs. Wade saved countless lives- women could finally (LEGALLY) go to a professional instead of being forced to use some back-alley quack or crazy concoction that would ultimately kill them in order to have an abortion. Seriously people, what’s next? Do you want to repeal women’s suffrage now? Or maybe you want to start with the Civil Rights Amendment- just sayin’.
Once we’ve moved past determining whether or not women are allowed to make their own healthcare decisions, we move on to the eternal question of whether or not women get paid the same amount of money for the same work that men do. The answer to that is pretty clearly no and labor board statistics back me up on that. I don’t think that this is a legislative issue; it is a cultural norm that needs to be changed. There is still sexism and racism and elitism and every other kind of –ism that you can think of affecting our daily lives and this will not change with Congressing mandating anything. It WILL change as the women of my generation continue to become more integral to the work place and when the next generations of women come behind me making even more dynamic changes happen. The one thing that the Government CAN do to help us would be to address the issue of how inhospitable this country’s labor laws are to maternity leave. Take a tour around the world and we are one of only a few countries that very discretely force women to choose between whether they want to have a career or have a family, as though this is a one or the other proposition. I can tell you from watching my mother that if she had been anyone else, she would have quit years ago. She is one of the most determined women I know and when people ask me why I say that I come from a matriarchal family it is because of her, my Grandmother, and my Great-Grandmother that I say this.
My Great-Grandmother was a divorcee in Missouri back when it was NOT done to divorce. She became a small business owner and developed others to be successful in an era when a woman’s place was in the kitchen! My Grandmother was a teacher. Aside from developing young minds, she was a housewife for a time, going with my Grandfather to many different countries with his career advancements. My mother is a successful business woman in her own right as well and she chose to have children before she started her career. This is not an easy thing to do because in a world where a go-getter is seen as someone who will eat, sleep, and breathe the company, having children limits your flexibility and in the new globalized/flattened world where the speed of business is lightning fast- this is a liability to getting promoted. The most apropos example of this is the debate surrounding Marissa Meyer, the new CEO of Yahoo! (CLICK ME TO READ MORE).
I have a few closing thoughts to send to everyone running for election in the USA this term. Firstly, before you decided to pander to the extremist views, think long and hard about your own convictions as well as your own life practices and stop being hypocrites. Secondly, treat EVERY woman in this world as though they are your mother or your daughter or your wife because they truly are someone’s mother, daughter, or wife and they deserve that respect. Thirdly, let’s try to focus on the more important issues that face this country, such as the current economic stagnation, the ridiculous level of the National Debt, the fact that we cannot decided what type of toilet paper to use in the bathrooms of congress because you are too busy fighting with each other. I’ve said this before and I will now say it again- Cooperation and action are the only way for this country to move forward from this current chaos. Like him or hate him, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created momentum, built infrastructure and kept this country limping along until WWII pulled it out of the depression. What will history remember you for?
P.S.- I have not forgotten to mention the current storm swirling around Representative Akin and the Presumptive Republican Presidential and Vice-Presidential Nominees. I simply do not find them or their comments worthy of acknowledgement (outside of this one line), due to their sheer ignorance and and their venomous hatred of women. I find THEM to be morally repugnant.