This is my response to the most popular post that has been circulating in opposition to the Women’s March. I’m sure you’ve seen it making the rounds on Facebook. It’s the post that begins by declaring, “I am not a disgrace to women because I don’t support the Women’s March.” I’m going to go ahead and break this post down line-by-line.
“I am not a ‘disgrace to women’ because I don’t support the women’s march.”
Correct. No one said that you were.
“I do not feel I am a ‘second class citizen’ because I am a woman. I do not feel my voice is ‘not heard’ because I am a woman. I do not feel I am not provided opportunities in this life or in America because I am a woman. I do not feel that I ‘don’t have control of my body or choices’ because I am a woman. I do not feel like I am ‘not respected or undermined’ because I am a woman. I am not a ‘victim’ because you say I am.”
That’s nice. I’m happy for you. The purpose of this march was not to tell anyone that they are a victim. The purpose of this march was to support the women who actually are victims. It’s important to remember that your experience is only your own. It’s wonderful that you have lived such a blessed life. Other people, however, are not so fortunate. As one meme aptly suggests, “Saying no one should protest because you, as a woman, do not feel victimized, is like saying no one should go to the hospital because you feel fine. It’s not always about you.”
“I AM a woman. I can make my own choices. I can speak and be heard. I can VOTE. I can work if I want. I can stay home if I want. I control my body. I can defend myself. I can defend my family.”
A “thank you” would be nice. To the ones who went before you, who could not vote. Who could not work if they wanted to. Who did not have control over their bodies. The ones who went out and marched, and protested, and vandalized, and screamed, and waved banners, and put their very lives on the line to give you those rights of which you so callously boast. You can work, but you will only be paid 79 cents for every man’s dollar for doing the exact same job. You can work, OR you can stay home and raise children, but you will not get proper paid maternity (or paternity) leave. You can “control” your body, if control means struggling to maintain coverage for medication to regulate your periods, clear your skin, prevent cancer, and ease endometriosis and PCOS. If control means paying luxury tax on feminine products. You can hope that the justice system will defend you if you are raped—you can hope. You are fortunate to live in a country that even gives you that much, while many around the world have less. The fight is far from over.
“There is nothing stopping me to do anything in this world but MYSELF. I do not blame my circumstances or problems on anything other than my own choices or even that sometimes in life, we don’t always get what we want. I take responsibility for myself. I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend. I am not held back in life but only by the walls I choose to not go over which is a personal choice. Quit blaming. Take responsibility.”
The ability to make your own choices is, once again, something to be grateful for. It is great that you have made your own choices in life. Others do not have that option. The men and women who marched are not trying to shirk their responsibilities. It’s true, we don’t always get what we want. We don’t all get mansions and private jets and tropical vacations. That is not what this march was about. This march was about justice. This march was about what is right. Sure, there are stories of slaves on plantations who were uncomplaining, hard workers who accepted the lot they had received. But enslaving human beings is not JUST. Sure, there were women who were satisfied to let their husbands cast their political votes for them. But denying citizens the right to vote is not JUST. Sure, with a high-enough paying job, I could afford to live, even if I made less than my male co-workers. But it would not be JUST. Furthermore, this march was not organized solely for those who are merely inconvenienced by inequality. This march was organized for those whose actual safety is at risk. An estimated 36,000 people could die PER YEAR if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Irresponsible immigration reform will result in families getting torn apart left and right. Just listen to the story of Diane Guerrero, who came home from school one day to find that her parents (who were desperately trying to become legal citizens) had been deported without notice. She was a minor, alone in an empty house, and no one came for her. No one explained to her what had happened. No one found a place for her to live. This is the reason for the march. It is not about you, or the choices you have been able to make, or the “walls [you] choose to not go over”, whatever that means. It is about SO MUCH MORE. These men and women are not whining or blaming. They are looking you in the eyes and asking for your support as they strive for peace, love, mercy, and JUSTICE.
“If you want to speak, do so. But do not expect for me, a woman, to take you seriously wearing a pink va-jay-jay hat on your head and screaming profanities and bashing men.”
These women did not march alone. They marched with their husbands, their fathers, their brothers, their sons, and their friends. One of the important goals of the women’s movement is inclusion and intersectionality. Organizations such as HeForShe seek to engage men and encourage them to join the fight for gender equality. This movement is for everyone. Man or woman, dark or light, Western or Eastern, we welcome you. Calling the participators in the March harpies who enjoy “bashing men” is just buying into an ignorant and harmful stereotype. And as for the pink hats, refer to my post “On Medium“.
“If you have beliefs, and speak to me in a kind manner, I will listen. But do not expect for me to change my beliefs to suit yours. Respect goes both ways.”
Please explain to me how marching is not “kind”. Not one. single. arrest. was made in D.C. that day. Not one.
“If you want to impress me, especially in regards to women, then speak on the real injustices and tragedies that affect women in foreign countries that do not that the opportunity or means to have their voices heard. Saudi Arabia, women can’t drive, no rights and must always be covered. China and India, infanticide of baby girls. Afghanistan, unequal education rights. Democratic Republic of Congo, where rapes are brutal and women are left to die, or HIV infected and left to care for children alone. Mali, where women can not escape the torture of genital mutilation. Pakistan, in tribal areas where women are gang raped to pay for men’s crime. Guatemala, the impoverished female underclass of Guatemala faces domestic violence, rape and the second-highest rate of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa. An epidemic of gruesome unsolved murders has left hundreds of women dead, some of their bodies left with hate messages. Or the 7 year old girls being sold or married off to 60 year old men, Or the millions of women sold and bought into sex trafficking. And that’s just a few examples.”
We ARE speaking about these injustices. We DO march for these injustices. Renee Contreras De Loach, in her piece written for Women You Should Know, specifically cites forced abortions in China as one of her main reasons for marching. “I marched for the 30 million aborted Chinese baby girls that the government decided didn’t deserve life because they were less valuable than boys. I marched for their mothers too.” This post ignores the fact that the Women’s March is a GLOBAL event. Millions of men and women marched WORLDWIDE. The fact that 500,000 of them happened to be in Washington, D.C. does not in any way mean that the issues in foreign countries were being overlooked. As a sign from one of the many marches stated, “If you do not march for ALL women, you do not march for ANY women.” This post assumes that those who marched, marched only for themselves, because all the author saw in her limited view was a crowd of people in one location, standing around with picket signs. If she had only raised her head, she would have seen the whole world. If she had only looked for longer than one day, she would have seen those marchers return to their action plan and their lives as doctors, aid workers, mothers, counselors, volunteers, teachers, advocates, writers, and friends… doing everything they can to help those in need.
“So when women get together in AMERICA and whine they don’t have equal rights and march in their clean clothes, after eating a hearty breakfast, and it’s like a vacation away that they have paid for to get there… This WOMAN does not support it.”
I’ll let the succinct and powerful words of Dina Leygerman speak for me on this one: “Estonia allows parents to take up to three years of leave, fully paid for the first 435 days. United States has no policy requiring maternity leave. Singapore’s women feel safe walking alone at night. American women do not. New Zealand’s women have the smallest gender gap in wages, at 5.6%. United States’ pay gap is 20%. Iceland has the highest number of women CEOs, at 44%. United States is at 4.0%. The United States ranks at 45 for women’s equality. Behind Rwanda, Cuba, Philippines, Jamaica.” Did you ever think you would hear America listed behind those countries in anything? How do you expect American women to be an example and a light to those in more dire situations if we have nothing to show them? Put on your own oxygen mask before you assist the person sitting next to you.
If you’re just not a fan of protests, or women, or whatever, fine. My intent is not to tell you that you are wrong. I only hope that I cleared up some of the misconceptions and false statements being made about the March. Thank you for reading.