“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ~ Gloria Steinem
This morning I listened to Diane Rehm’s interview of Danielle Allen about her book, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. On the air Ms. Allen read the full Declaration of Independence, and as I listened I thought about the injustices that women these days could declare independence from.
Then later, I listened to a radio interview with Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, regarding immigration and the ‘crisis’ of all the children fleeing their homes, mostly from Guatemala, many of them finding shelter in southern Arizona. In my view she mostly spouted GOP ‘talking points’, refusing to really answer the questions presented to her. She took the opportunity to bash the current White House administration with the typical ‘memes’ of her political party about immigration policy. While I’m not surprised, I am disappointed that she couldn’t back off from her political post and ‘be real’.
She looks tough, she talks tough, and she acts tough. I wonder who she really is. Everyone has a story, and she does, too. So although I’m speculating about her, as a woman of a certain age myself, her story can’t be too different from mine. So as a woman, I wonder what has she had to live through to get where she is today? What has she given up for her position; how has she compromised her real self? Her decisions for the women in Arizona have been harmful, in my view, and I wonder why.
“Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it.”
Women have been ‘fighting’ for equality since Adam and Eve, although according to some biblical scholars these two were created equal in the beginning. I’m not going into any diatribe about religious views, but I totally support the notion that men and women are equal, and different. One is not better than the other in terms of human value.
In his book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, Jimmy Carter reviews the different ways that his Carter Center promotes women and supports their efforts to have fulfilled, satisfactory lives, even within the current paradigm of a still patriarchal global system. He writes, “We who are more privileged are not deliberately perpetuating our status at the expense of others, but we rarely wish to confront or be involved in the problem.”
I’m not sure Jimmy is right in this comment, as I think that many times those who are perpetuating harm to others, mostly women and children, are mindful in some way of the true consequences of their behavior/actions. They appear unconscious, however, while they pursue their own agendas for power. And this includes both men and women, even religious ones. The ‘privileged’ are most often removed from the knowledge of the daily lives of the rest of us, and see themselves ‘above’ others. Again, this often includes women.
I am continually amazed at the number of women who venture into political realms who take stands on women’s health that are harmful to women and families. Where are they coming from? Many times it’s about ‘judgment’ and criticism of those who do not have resources – those who are ‘less than’. Of course, one must also follow the party’s position on these things when making legislative decisions. And I’m continually amazed at the number of men and women who profess Christianity who would put their standards on all women, while eschewing those same standards for themselves. They hold themselves up as models, while causing harm to other humans – how is this loving your neighbor as yourself?
And this question brings me to the following links that my friend researched and posted on facebook in response to the rants that followed the Hobby Lobby decision by the SCOTUS. There have been many postings by many organizations and thousands of people about how unfair to women this decision is, not to mention sexist. And there has been a lot of concern about whether or why women need to fight for their rights yet again. Is there a backsliding of support for women within our society? Do younger girls and women have information about the work of the women’s generations before them to gain rights they take for granted?
While it seems like it shouldn’t be, the reality is that women still need to be constantly vigilant, not resting, not being complacent, while laws and policies continue to erode the rights that women have fought for, and deserve. They should not be tied down by legislation that creates hardship, and that places barriers to taking responsibility for their own lives and health care.
So, to remember where we have been, and to support independence from societal dominance, here are some places to remind us of our rights and responsibilities – those foremost being to ourselves as women.
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2010/03/12/the-1960s-a-decade-of-change-for-women The 1960s: A Decade of Change for Women
People & Events: Mrs. America: Women’s Roles in the 1950s
The Women’s Room is a novel by American feminist author Marilyn French, published in 1977. The Women’s Room has been described as one of the most influential novels of the modern feminist movement.
1960’s – 1980’s Women’s Liberation Movement
Second-wave feminism is a period of feminist activity that first began in the early 1960s in the United States, and eventually spread throughout the Western world. In the United States the movement lasted through the early 1980s.
The Women’s Movement
Perhaps we should read the Declaration of Independence, inserting our own words, declaring our true equality and independence from the limitations placed on us by unjust actions. It’s a delicious idea to me!