Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Women's Issues" are Everyone's Issues

I am not an outwardly political discussion type person. I tend to hold my beliefs close and share them only with those that are close to me. I sit back and read and research the things that are presented to me. I think about the people and situations surrounding the issues. I try to put myself in their shoes. I try to be empathetic. I don't appreciate the attacks that I witness on both ends of the spectrum. I don't appreciate the hateful posts and outright lies that the internet spreads like wildfire. I don't appreciate that people cannot simply respect the beliefs of others without believing that their rights are violated simply because someone believes differently than they do. I support all women in whatever fight they are fighting. I support young women, old women, single women, married women, impoverished women, transgender women, ALL women. When we live in a world that values and respects women, everyone benefits.

The Women's March was about women-all women everywhere
I am so tired of the rhetoric surrounding this march that the women who participate were whiny, privileged little girls who had nothing to protest. I am tired of people stating that women DO have equal rights (in many areas we do but it's not like we've had them for very long and people are trying to make sure that it stays that way). We live in a country where the wage gap between males and females has been proven time and time again. In our country there are women who are overlooked for employment because they plan to have children. There are people who see no problem with this and yet we are supposed to believe we have equal rights? There are people who talk of women needing to serve their men, stay in the kitchen where they belong, care for the children and provide for the family while also working full time. These same people do not hold men to the same standard. If that isn't gender inequality, I don't know what is. But the thing is...the Women's March was about so much more than that. It was not just about the women in each community, each state, each country where the march took place. It was about women who are oppressed across the globe. It was about women who are forced into abusive relationships. Women who are kept around simply to have children. Women who endure gender mutilation. Women who are silenced. Women who are sold into sex trafficking. Women who are denied an education. Women who are forced into marriages at a young age. Women who are treated like second class citizens. Female children are dying at dramatically higher rates in certain parts of the world because they are denied basic necessities at greater rates than male children. Women are treated as disposable. Women are born into these lives-they don't choose them and many of them die before they are old enough to fight for a change. We are lucky that we were not born into those lives. We owe it to our foreign sisters to be their voice for change. That is what many women were marching about and that is a cause I can stand behind.
I am also sick of hearing people say that they cannot support the march because some of the women were acting out in inappropriate ways. They were vulgar and rude. Here's the thing, I had friends and family participating in the march across the United States in at least 10 different locations and I heard wonderful stories of the support and friendship that they felt together with these other women coming together to globally support women. (I also heard similar things from the men that I know that participated.) People need to stop judging this gigantic march by the actions of a few. I don't judge all men or all presidents by the words and actions of Donald Trump. That would just be absurd. Stop generalizing.

The media does not divide us-we divide ourselves.
People like to make the media the bad guy but forget that we have a choice to research and fact check the information that we are presented with. WE choose how to feel and act based upon this information. So many people think that the freedoms offered to them in our country means that they can simply live in their own little bubble and stand at the edge of it criticizing and putting others down for refusing to be in their bubble of belief. They think they can simply pick and choose what "alternative facts" they think support their beliefs and tell people that they must feel the same way when presented with these facts. Because we have freedom of speech, does not mean that we should use it to spread hate. Freedom of speech does not mean that we can tell others to stay silent as we shout above them our own message from our own bubble. Freedom of speech is not freedom to be a jerk without consequence.

You don't get to decide other people's personal beliefs-they do
You can be pro-choice. You can be pro-life. You cannot tell someone else that they must change their beliefs to match yours. You are welcome to give your reasons for your beliefs just as much as they are welcome to give their reasons for their beliefs (both sides-stay away from fallacies). You cannot, however, decide what they must believe.
For myself, I am pro-life. I could not choose abortion for myself. For others, I respect their right to have a choice. I am thankful that I have never been in a situation where I was scared for my future and the future of my family. I have never been a victim of sexual assault, I have never been raped, I have never been molested, I have never been forced into an incestuous relationship, I have never been forced into sex trafficking. I am fortunate. So many women are not. To tell women in these situations that you get to say what they can and can't do when their bodies have been abused and their mental state is in disarray is pure insanity to me. Women in these situations need our support and our comfort not our judgement and our personal beliefs shoved down their throats. I am against legislation that puts men in suits in control of the bodies of female victims. I am against telling these women that they MUST continue a pregnancy created through a criminal act. I am for giving them options. I am for THEM deciding what happens in these situations because they have already been through more than enough. I am against forcing them to continue a pregnancy that very well could end their life. Roughly every 9.5 days, 21 mothers die in childbirth in the United States (numbers are much higher in other places across the globe). Are the people legislating the victim's uterus willing to accept responsibility for the death of this woman? Is her attacker now going to be charged with murder? I think not. Have you even seen the "consequences" dished out to these men that commit violent crimes against women (if they suffer any consequences at all)? A man can alter a woman's life forever, be found guilty, and get away with as little as a few month in jail.
Now, I also understand that not all women in the situation are victims of sexual crimes. So many people in poverty have trouble getting out of the cycle of poverty for many reasons. One of those reasons is a repetitive cycle of unplanned pregnancies. In the past few years, we have made progress in this area by providing contraception free of charge. Abortion rates have dropped to a lower rate than they were back in 1973 when the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was made. Unfortunately, some people who are against abortion are also against providing these women in poverty with the birth control that can help lift them out of the cycle. They are against women trying to prevent the very pregnancies that people judge them for in the end. Then, when these women don't prevent the pregnancy (because they cannot afford birth control) and don't get an abortion (because people say the woman does not get to make decisions about her body), and people complain that they "have too many kids that they can't afford" and are "living off OUR tax dollars." They are abusing the system! Wait...what? They aren't abusing anything-they are stuck in a cycle that they can't seem to escape.
We like to pretend that the only reason people engage in sex is to create a child and yet, behind closed doors, we know that this is a lie. People pretend that they do not engage in sexual contact for pleasure but the truth is-sex is good for you. In study after study it has been proven that sex provides stress relief, heart health, hormone regulation, better sleep, and an improved immune system just to name a few things! We tell people in poverty without access to birth control that it is SO simple: don't have sex! Forget the benefits listed above-you know because people living in poverty are never stressed and are incredibly healthy (sarcasm intended). Unless you plan to feed, clothe, and financially support the child that you are forcing a woman to have, you don't get to judge them and tell them what to do. Where are the torches and pitchforks when the men walk away from these women and leave them without support? Why is it not okay for a woman to have an abortion but no one bats an eye at the man who also made the child? Why is the woman the only one called out and criticized? It takes two to tango my friends! Why are men not held to the same standards and criticism for unintended pregnancies? Because this gender inequality exists. As much as children are an amazing and wonderful gift, the truth is that they can be a financial burden-especially to people already in poverty. The average cost of raising a child from birth to 17 is over $200,000. It's no wonder people can't seem to climb out of poverty.

No one HAS to support the person who holds the position of the presidency in our country
I will argue that we should show the president the same respect that he or she shows toward the citizens. I do, personally, have a problem with the things that our current president has said to and about women but that does not mean that I have anything against the people who do choose to support him. No one should be saying that any president should be assassinated. No one should EVER be criticizing the young children of the person holding the office. But people SHOULD be holding our leader accountable for their actions. We live in a country with checks and balances for a reason. Our political leaders should be fact checked. Their interests and motives should be investigated. Critics should not be silenced simply because their ideas are in opposition to the person who holds the office of the presidency. On the other end of the spectrum, those who agree with the president have just as much of a right to voice their support. All parties on both sides need to tone down the hate speech and get rid of the Us vs. Them rhetoric. Quit finger pointing. Quit telling people to "accept it." Quit pretending that every president in the history of our country was always welcomed with open arms. Be open to facts. Don't be a troll. Read the information presented to you before jumping to conclusions or jumping down someone throat. Read more than headlines. Research. Fact check. Don't rely on heavily biased sources for information. Check multiple sources. Don't spread false information. Apologize when you are wrong. Not only will you feel better for being a decent human being, the people around you will appreciate your respect as well.

Even if you disagree with my beliefs, I hope we can agree on this: 
Your words matter. Your tone matters. Your phrasing matters. Your words are powerful. 
Be kind. Use them for good.
You won't regret it.


No comments:

Post a Comment