This Facebook post has been making the rounds the last few days. I’m not sure who the original author is, as people have been copying and pasting it into their status (which led me to believe that someone I know had written it until I caught on). I wanted to respond to it at the time, but I knew I needed some time.
Then I read a blog post called “You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry.” It’s intense and in a tone I have no desire to take, but it makes some great points. To summarize:
- Many, MANY women fought and marched and sacrificed to afford women the rights they have today. We should thank them.
- The fact is that in America, women are not equal. You might feel equal, but you are not. The stats are in the post.
But I wanted to take a different approach to responding. The first thing I wanted to say was:
I am genuinely glad you feel so empowered and self-possessed as a woman. I’m even a little jealous. So I hope and pray (and work and march) for the day when all women feel so confident, especially women of color and LGBTQ women.
And after that, I wanted to say:
You are absolutely right that there is a tendency to take for granted the liberties we do have as American women. But you don’t know what any of the people who participated in the march ARE doing for women in other countries who endure the kinds of horrific treatment you outline.
I’d be willing to bet that if you polled every woman who marched Saturday, you’d hear about some incredible work being done here and abroad. My mom, who marched in Charlotte, is doing great things around school resegregation. Clergy friends of mine who traveled to DC have advocated for and supported women in their own communities and around the world. I imagine in that crowd were lawyers, social workers, doctors, teachers, moms, writers, engineers, volunteers, and more who daily speak up for the women in Saudi Arabia, China, India, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Pakistan, Guatemala, and more (like Haiti, where my church works in part on behalf of woman in circumstances we cannot imagine).
Not to mention that there were sister marches around the globe in solidarity with us. People marched for American women on every continent. In South Africa. In Antarctica. In Brazil. In Iraq. IRAQ.
Then I wanted to say:
You are not “a disgrace to women.” I don’t know who called you that, but it certainly wasn’t me, and it wasn’t anyone I know who marched or supported the movement. And from what I hear from friends who were in DC and other places, there was no bashing men. In fact, there were a lot of men there. Wearing pink hats.
But most importantly:
I truly respect your right not to march. Pink hats not your thing? That really is fine. I do not believe you are a disgrace to women. I think you are living out your womanhood as best you can, just like the rest of us. And that’s OK with me.
But it’s just the truth–women are not equal. Women are second-class citizens. Add being a person of color, an LGBTQ person, an immigrant, a native, a refugee, poor, homeless, or any other vulnerability marker, and you get demoted even further.* Many women do not experience womanhood in this country the way you do, not just in their heads but on paper, in their bank account, on their bodies. And so I will continue to speak out. I will continue to march. And I hope that you will join me.
I promise I won’t make you wear a pink hat.
* I should note that white women still make more money than black men, and there are other nuances that could be added to these statements. It’s not a simple formula, and it’s not the Oppression Olympics.