There are people out there today, women and men, who are saying that women who stand up for women’s right are wrong or petty or stupid. They say that women have all the rights we need because we’re not treated like women in some third world countries. They feel that women should be thankful that we have so many rights. They say that women shouldn’t be treated equally to men because we are special and different from men. They say that because we aren’t forced to walk behind men or wear clothing that covers our faces and entire bodies or subjected to abuse from men in power that we should just be quiet and say thank you.
I say fuck that. I say that on college campuses everywhere women are sexually assaulted and raped and often they are persecuted and prosecuted and not the perpetrator. I say that these women who are assaulted are often encouraged not to tell the police and to keep quiet about it all the while their attackers get to stay in school, keep playing football, keep attacking other students. And I say that this happens because the people in charge value money more than they do the women who are their students.
I say that women still make 80 cents to the dollar that a man makes doing the same job. I say that women are passed up for promotions if they don’t comply with male directives or they are pushed out because they do not reciprocate unwanted sexual advances. I say that women have to work twice as hard with a fraction of the reward that a man does in the same job. I say that women automatically have a label put on them if they have children that they will be ineffective in the workplace because they are mothers. I say that women have to prove things that men never do right out of the gate in the workplace and this is not equal or fair.
I say that teachers in school have told my daughter that she should think about other careers besides law because “How can she have a family and be a lawyer at the same time”? I ask, can you imagine if a teacher said this to a male student? Our young women’s hopes and dreams can be shattered before they even attempt to make them come true because of societal expectations. I say that I’ve had to work overtime to convince my daughter that she can be everything she wants to be including a lawyer and a mother and that that teacher was most certainly wrong in her opinion.
I cry out that women have to give their reproductive rights and health care in the hands of men and not in the hands of themselves and their doctors. I am outraged that men can get a pill to make their penis erect during sex but a woman has to fight to get needed birth control in order to take responsibility for her own family planning. I am mortified that in this country men believe women should not be able to make decisions regarding their reproductive system but that they as men do not need to be held accountable for providing for said family. I am sick to my stomach thinking about women that have to make the incredibly painful decisions about a pregnancy with judgmental men looking over their uterus.
I say that Elizabeth Warren, while reading a letter by Coretta Scott King was silenced by a male senate majority leader while the next day male senator after male senator was allowed to read the same letter. I say that it is not okay that this majority leader said that she had been warned and yet persisted and expected her to sit down and be quiet. I scream at the top of my lungs that sexism and misogyny are alive and well in this country today and that we will not sit down in response, that we will stand up and persist at all costs. I shout that while no we are not being raped and tortured daily, we are still not treated as equal human beings in this country by the powers in charge and that this is wrong.
I say all of this loud and I will say it until change happens. I will say it on behalf of all women, especially my daughters. And I will not sit down and be quiet ever. And yet, we persist.