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An Accidental Feminist?

I did not march yesterday. I wasn’t one of the crowd that amassed the inaugural crowd by roughly three times (New York Times). Instead, I split  the day between home and running errands with my son,  followed by dinner at a friends’ house, where our children played as we chatted and talked about many things, including The Women’s March.

My friend didn’t march either. You see both of us are past our “marching days.” We’re older. We both have children, husbands, and households to run. We’re both well-educated and I’d be willing to argue that neither of us feels inferior to any man we know. We’re strong, confident women. Though we didn’t march we both expressed support and awe over the crowds that gathered. How amazing it was to see so many women (many with the support of their husbands, boyfriends, brothers, and children) from all different walks of life, united together in an effort to peacefully exercise their Constitutional Rights! While we may not have marched, we were proud of our fellow women. But we were too busy to march. We had too many responsibilities. Our children had activities yesterday and my husband (a chef) works weekends, so it was up to me to make sure my son made it to his event. My friend? She’s a Rock Star Mom of four and her husband is out-of-state, so she surely couldn’t take any time away from her kiddos to March. No, we had too much to do...

As I scrolled through my NewsFeed today I liked all posts March related. I read many wonderful articles, and remained proud of our country. Then I started noticing a disturbing trend. Why were so many women spewing anti Women’s March hate all over the internet? I was shocked. As I continued to scroll the alarming trend continued, making less and less sense to me. I read posts from women claiming that only “libtard women” (I’m not even sure what a libtard woman is) showed up to march. These comments were made worse only by women “LoLing” at men who commented,”As long as she made breakfast before she left then no harm done! LOL.” How could anybody, much less any woman Laugh Out Loud at such a flagrant display of gross sexism? Where was the outrage? Finally, why were women being so hard on each other rather than lifting one and other up in love and support? Where’s the unity so beautifully displayed at the Women’s March?

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum and whether or not you fancy yourself a feminist, few things are factual; hard and true. Please allow me to introduce the wage gap:

       Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. (www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination).

Again I ask, where is the outrage?

Continuing to read articles throughout the day I came across another sad statistic,

Women today are more likely than men to complete college and attend graduate school, and make up nearly half of the country’s total workforce. Yet past gaps in education and experience appear to be contributing to a persistent pay gap between the sexes, a new report shows. (http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/10/31/women-more-likely-to-graduate-college-but-still-earn-less-than-men)

Then I wonder, maybe I should’ve made the time yesterday…

Another online Wall Post assaulted my senses, haunting me for the remainder of the day,

“I’m all for free speech, but this march was just stupid. A level of hypocrisy that’s just astounding. She sounds like the crazy in crowd at the Salem witch hunts. They make me ashamed of my gender actually. Nasty indeed!” (Name Withheld)

Perhaps I misunderstood these women’s comments? There was just no way I could bring myself to believe any woman would berate, demoralize, or defame another woman for simply asserting her right to stand up for her beliefs. Maybe the women leaving such vile internet commentary simply aren’t offended by the wage gap? Surely these women aren’t aware of the shocking sexual assault statistics reported last year. Those statistic would undoubtedly shock these women straight, right? I hoped so…

 Women. 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape). 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape. 9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003. (https://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims).

Surely these women wouldn’t be making such terrible comments if they knew these facts I told myself. One in six women is a huge statistic. Using that statistic, every woman in The United States of America knows a woman who will be or has already been the victim of a sexual assault. I so badly want to illustrate this point to the anti Women’s March Internet Crusaders. The one in six that falls victim to sexual assault could be anyone: your daughter, your mother, your wife, your sister, or your best friend. In this situation, the cyber bullies are at risk themselves. That’s right, simply being a women yields each of these women vulnerable to a sexual assault. For the record,

One in thirty-three men will be raped annually in The United States. (https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence). That’s right, a woman is nearly four times more likely to be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime than a man. 

Reaching my boiling point, I finally shut down my laptop and walked away from my cell phone. Sitting with both my feelings and thoughts for a good while, I really allowed myself to feel exactly what and how I was feeling; to absorb it all. I came to a few very important conclusions during my reflections. Perhaps the most important realization for me was the moment I realized that women like my friend and myself are the exact women that needed to be at that March. Strong, smart, confident women are the foundation of so many infrastructures around the world. From raising families to running corporations, women like my friend and myself rise up everyday and strive to do better than the day before. Constantly putting everyone before ourselves, we work long, hard days to ensure our families are well cared for. It becomes dangerous when we grow too comfortable in our day-to-day, forgetting how easily and all too frequently our gender can be marginalized. 

Finally, I realized how important it is for my son to see me using my voice to advocate for something that I truly believe in. It became clear to me how important it is for me to show my eight year old little boy that his mother (and all women alike) is strong, smart, capable, and worthy of respect every single day, in every single situation, no questions asked. I now know how very critical it is that I continue to instill the virtues of love, tolerance, and honesty in my son so that he will grow into a tolerant, peaceful, respectful, and respectable young man. I will make it my mission to ensure my son is prepared for adulthood, equipped with grace and love. In these uncertain times, peace, love, and tolerance will go further than one may think. And next time, I’ll be Marching proud, with my son by my side.

 

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6 thoughts on “An Accidental Feminist?

  1. It literally breaks my heart everytime I see comments FROM WOMEN not understanding what is happening. I wish for the world that people were able to reflect on their thoughts. Sometimes I have the feeling that ignorant people like to show off their ignorance…
    Even if we don’t earn less than our male co-workers or have loving, feminist hubsbands/fathers/boyfriends/sons we need to use every opportunity to speak up. At least for those with no voice.
    Thank you for your insights. I enjoyed reading your post.
    XXX

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is sad to see that so many women don’t realize that the sexual assault rate is 1 and 6. I would love to see a march of women that are united with the same issues that they are protesting. If someone says we are united with the same cause and the woman next to her has a completely different idea of the march, then the march is not united. It is almost woman vs woman on their ideas for marching. I will stop here because I will continue to rant about this subject! This is a really great piece Katie and I’m happy someone addressed this issue. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my piece and for your thoughtful commentary. The common denominator in all of this has proven itself to be that women continue be harder on their female counterparts; showing no support, unity, nor compassion for one another. As long as this continues, we as woman, will remain divided.

      Like

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