Disclaimer: this post might shock/offend you, so read at your own risk. But if you do read, keep an open mind.
I don't do politics. I vote, and I try to educate myself on current events, but I hate politics. I consider myself to be a positive person most of the time, but I am absolutely cynical when it comes to politicians. I just believe that nothing short of a miracle will straighten out this country's epic fail of a mess, so I'd really rather not think about it most of the time.
However, I do actually have political opinions, though I don't usually advertise them. I decided to blog about them today, in honor of the fact that March is Women's History Month.
In my very first semester at LSU, I took a women and gender studies (WGS) class. It was an elective for English majors, and I went in curious but unsure of what to expect. I kept an open mind and I was blown away by a lot of the stuff we learned. It also stuck out in my mind because of how open and friendly my classmates were. In fact, I'm still friends with one of the girls in that class. The class really broadened my horizons and made me realize how I was ignorant in many ways.
I learned about feminism. Feminism is a word that has many negative connotations. Some people think it was a movement that's over. Some associate feminism with butch, bitchy women who hate men. This is a gross generalization. Sure, there are some feminists out there like that. A lot of feminists are angry because the world has been such an unfair place for women for a very long time. I'm angry too, sometimes. But most feminists don't hate men. Actually, in the very simplest of terms, feminism means equality for both women and men. It doesn't mean that women are better than men. It's about equality.
Or at least, it used to it. It still is, in some ways. Women still make less money than men in the working world. Companies still don't always support very much maternity leave, and they support paternity leave even less. Women are still sexually harassed/assaulted/abused every day. But there have actually been three waves of feminism. The second wave died in around the late '80s, and the third wave continues today. But we have this problem, where so many women don't want to be identified with feminism. They believe that they cannot be feminists and still maintain their femininity.
I've always believed that I can be a strong, independent woman - a feminist - without it getting in the way of being feminine. I love wearing vintage dresses and makeup. I'm not saying that we should all burn our bras and stop shaving (that's entirely up to you). I do reject conventions of negative body images that are so rampant in the media. I do resent that almost forty years after the Equal Rights Amendment was passed, we STILL don't have equality in this country. It's outrageous. I am angry every time I hear of a rape case that wasn't reported because there would be no point to report it - because it's so hard to press charges in almost every rape situation.
Wake up - this is a problem, and we are only fueling this problem if we shy away from the word "feminism." We are slapping our foremothers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many others, in the faces when we do this.
Men also have issues with the word. Why can't men be feminists? Any man who loves his mama, maw maw, sister, wife, and/or daughter should want equal rights for them, and should not be afraid to say so. This isn't a battle we will win alone.
I learned even more in that WGS class. As a Catholic, I'm supposed to be vehemently against abortion and contraceptives. We had a discussion about this in class one day. One girl stood up and calmly said, "I don't like the term 'pro-life.' That indicates that I'm pro-death. And I'm not. I don't want innocent babies to die. The issue is about power. It's about the government telling me what I can and cannot do with my own body. If abortion is outlawed, it will go back to the way it was in the '60s - coathangers in back alleys. It will lead to the government restraining my body in other ways." I sat there in shock. She was right.
I struggle with this issue all the time. Of course, there are options such as adoption, or heck, not having sex if you don't want a baby in the first place. But is that realistic? Same with the idea of contraceptives. The statistics have shown that abstinence-only methods in high schools don't work. Know why? Because some kids are gonna have sex. Many won't, like those who grow up in religious households and either truly believe that they should wait or at least feel guilty about it. But some always will. Wouldn't it be better for a girl to know how to protect herself from STDs and unwanted pregnancy if she's going to become sexually active? If I were a mother, I would pray that my daughter would practice abstinence, but in the event that she didn't, I certainly wouldn't want her to be unprotected.
I wear a ring on my left hand that bears the inscription of 1 Corinthians 6:19, which goes something like this, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? You are not your own." It's partially a purity ring and partially a reminder to not disrespect my body at all, because I'm just borrowing it. But unfortunately, not everyone believes this way. This is exactly why the separation of church and state exists. Who am I to impose my beliefs on another woman? I'm not God, and I can't judge anyone. So maybe it's best that we encourage abstinence, but still teach kids how to use birth control and condoms so they don't get themselves into terrible situations.
I won't go so far as to say maybe abortion should be legal, because at the end of the day, I can't bear the thought of the government allowing fetuses to be terminated. But I will say this - I don't much relish the idea of the government telling me what to do with my body, either.
If you've gotten this far, kudos. I hope I didn't offend you, but I also hope that I made you think a bit more about these issues. Please leave a comment or send me an email with your thoughts - if you agree or disagree, if you are exhilarated or outraged. I'd like to know.
Have a blessed, magical day.