In the days following Trump’s Inauguration, I’ve seen several people, some whom I call friends, many of whom are women, post about how, by comparison, women have it good here in America. They cite how in other parts of the world, women have minimal control over their bodies, aren’t allowed the right to vote, undergo genital mutilation, are considered property by their husbands- the list goes on and on.
They’re right- by comparison, we’ve got it great here in the USA.
Believe me, I am aware of my rights. I’m aware that I am protected to act like a “whore” if I want to, that I can “kill babies” with an “abortion pill” if I want to, that I can make the choice to protests wearing little more than tape on my nipples or I can choose to stay home and watch movies and make my boyfriend a sandwich. I’m aware that the fact that I am even allowed to write this article and have an outlet in which to publish it is incredible, and a foreign concept to women in other parts of the world. I can speak freely without the fear of having my tongue cut out and my family shamed (although nothing seems to stop the internet trolls). The choices, rights, and freedoms I am allowed go on and on.
I am grateful. Do not misunderstand me.
The bigger issue here though, is why I have these rights. No one seems to talk about why myself, my sisters, immigrants, homosexuals, transgenders, non-Christians and any other minority or protected group are afforded these rights.
It’s because we fight for them. It’s because our peers fight for them. It’s because our ancestors died for them. They saw injustices and stood for change.
Had we constantly rolled over, said, “It’s actually not that bad by comparison- our mothers had it worse- we should be happy with what we’ve got,” we’d still be having back-alley abortions, our husbands would still have the foremost rights to our medical records (anybody remember the first Episode of Mad Men when Don was getting calls from Betty Draper’s psychiatrist without her knowing, or the second-to-last episode where she was diagnosed with lung cancer and her doctor told her husband Henry before they told her?) , we’d still be shamed when we asked for birth control prescriptions, we’d still need to fly to Reno for divorces, we’d still need to have the length of our bathing suits measured at the beach — and those are just the changes that occurred in the last hundred years.
Being outraged at the threat of our rights being taken away is does not mean we’re spoiled, loose, loudmouthed or ungrateful. It’s because these rights were hard earned by the blood, sweat and tears of our peers and ancestors. We fight for these rights not just for ourselves, but so that our sisters and minority groups in other parts of the world can someday also have the same rights.
If we’re not progressing, we’re stagnating, and if history has shown us anything, it’s that the powers that be will do whatever they can to silence us.
It’s wonderful that I have access to birth control, that I have the right to vote, that I have the right to free speech and free press. It’s incredible that I have the choice to get married and have babies, or to shun all societal constraints and live like a free-wheeling gypsy, speaking my mind, traipsing from city to city, sleeping with who I want without fear of unwanted pregnancy and overt societal judgement. It’s incredible to think that 50 years ago I wouldn’t have had ready access to birth control. It’s baffling to think that had I gone to college, it would have been with the idea that it was just something to do to bide my time until I found a husband.
It’s appalling to think that there are other women in the world whose identities, emotional, sexual and spiritual are not their own, they are based on the men in their life, be they father, brother, husband or sons.
This fight is so much more than my right to be a mouthy slut, or, perhaps to put it in more current terms, a Nasty Woman. It’s a fight for my identity, my body, my mind, my soul. It’s a fight for the individual identities of those repressed.
It’s a fight we can never stop fighting. As long as there are people in the world that wish to silence us, there will be people in the world with voices louder than you thought humanly possible.