While working on another article the last few days, I have been distracted by a bombardment of people, both men and women (though mostly men) filling the social media universe with condescending diatribe and snippets against the peaceful marches protesting Trump over the weekend. But out of all the hateful things said, the “alternate facts” given, and the disparaging comments, there is one, central theme I found the most disturbing. Repeatedly I saw women’s rights in the United States being compared to oppressed women in other places of the world, in an effort to point out how good women have it here as opposed to places where they are nothing more than property to men. This, above most other arguments, reveals the embedded misogyny in our culture. Why does it reveal so much?
This argument says you have it better here than somewhere else, so you should be thankful. The implication is that these are not your rights, so much as privileges which could be revoked. It is the same method used by abusers to rationalize and normalize mistreatment. Abusers tell their victim that smacking them here and there isn’t really abusive, because they don’t have black eyes, a bloody nose, or broken bones. They tell their victim how much worse someone else has it, how those are the people who are really abused, and remind the victim what all the abuser does for them, so they should be thankful. Abusers use this language to undermine the value of those they overpower, by making them believe they should be thankful their life is not worse, to make them feel guilty for wanting more; make them ashamed and feel greedy at the thought of a better life. It is a psychological abuse to keep them in line and under the abuser’s control.
Now the deep, abusive misogyny is revealed. Equality is not based on someone’s misfortune. We do not measure our freedom against those who are oppressed in other places in the world. The measurement of our equality, the measurement of our value and our rights are against our fellow citizens. And we are not equal.
The white patriarchy of this country enjoyed designing for itself a system of great rewards. That constitution we hold so dear did not apply to lesser humans, like women and minorities. We have been forced to fight for every single right, every tiny step towards equality was a monumental struggle: in women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, and actual religious freedoms.
It is time we see the patriarchy for what it is, and those who support it for who they are. It is an abusive spouse continually trying to shame us for wanting more, telling us to be thankful for what we are given because it could be so much worse. They seek to distract us with our own shame, so we will fall in the line of complacent obedience. They tell us we should be grateful. They tell us we are equal enough.
But women are still fighting for the right to govern their own bodies. The wage gap between men and women is between 53% to 75% depending on your minority status. Girls are taught in school that they must dress certain ways or they will distract boys, meaning a boy’s education is more important than a girl’s and that girls are responsible for the behavior of boys. The judicial system continually dismisses or hands down ridiculously light sentences to men who commit violent crimes against women. Sexual consent is defined as not saying no, rather than saying yes. Victims of rape are shamed for what they wear or drink instead of rapists being held accountable for their actions. Black communities are targeted by law enforcement to fill private prison quotas. Prisons have become the new slave drivers. Healthcare is a for-profit commodity extorting money from the most vulnerable of people. Child poverty, hunger and homelessness is actually still a problem. People are being attacked for what bathroom they use. The disabled are being ridiculed and education funds are being ripped away from schools to care for and enable our special needs children. A woman seeking an abortion is condemned, but an unwed mother is shamed. Men with money buy political power and influence while paying less in taxes, while people working just to survive foot the government’s bill. Corporations are given more authority and rights than citizens, allowed to destroy properties and undermine the natural resources necessary for life for communities, all in the name of profit. The EPA, FDA and even the Parks and Wildlife Administration are no longer allowed to answer to the people. Citizens can no longer call the Whitehouse, the People’s House, with complaints or concerns. Doctors no longer are required to treat patients regardless of their sexual orientation or social choices. People can be denied medical attention based on the religious ideologies of the doctor or facility. This also means that employers will be able to discriminate against employees, or the hiring of employees, based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or any bigoted idea they can claim as part of their religion. Minimum wage has failed to increase with cost of living and the tax cuts given to corporations in the Trickle Down Economics Theory did not consider that the benefits would trickle no further than the top, making the corporate executives far wealthier while maintaining the lowest possible wages for employees. The minimum wage was not created for part-time students. It was created to ensure that hard working people earned a reasonable wage to live. Congress and the the Senate give themselves cost of living raises, but don’t seem to think the citizens of the United States require a livable wage to survive.
But you are supposed to feel equal enough. You are supposed to be thankful it isn’t worse. You are supposed to take what you are given like it is some great gift you didn’t earn, rather than your right as a human being. You have a right to your body and should not have to ask anyone for permission or their approval to exercise that right. You do not have to accept public shame for crimes committed against you. You do not have to accept less pay for the same work. You do not have to accept pollution in your community because it benefits corporate profits. You should not have to suffer or die, or watch those you love be consumed by illness because you can’t afford designer healthcare. People should not be living in abject poverty while working full time jobs. You never should be forced to hide who you are or who you love. You should never have to fear the police.
Being thankful for what you have does not make you equal. United, we must stand against this abusive ideology. When you see this thrown at you, call it out for what it is. Ask them if what they really mean is that we are equal enough so we should stop complaining.
I refuse to accept their abuse with complacency. I refuse to be their subjected victim. I am going to continue to fight, to fight back, because NO. We are not equal enough.
We are One Woman, One World.
photo credit: http://designedthinking.com/
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