For me personally, one of the many pitfalls of the current American political situation is that I can’t seem to stay away from it. Despite several promises to stay off social media unless it pertains to work, I just can’t seem to tear myself away. And while some of the tweets and articles are uplifting (#resist), most of them aren’t. Earlier tonight I fell down the rabbit hole of #adaywithoutwomen and I was honestly just disgusted by what I was reading. Not going to lie, today’s protest was not well organized. I don’t think the message of the movement and the reasoning behind the protest was well articulated, and it certainly wasn’t communicated effectively. And just to be clear, I receive multiple newsletters from feminist organizations, and I didn’t feel super informed about the mission for the day until today. So I get that there is some confusion. I get that there is the feeling that this particular protest leaves out a lot of women who can’t afford to take a day off work (and again, that wasn’t the intention of the movement, it is more a result of a failure to communicate). But the amount of hate out there is sad. And it’s really sad that so much of it is coming from women, directed at women.
I just don’t get it. The same thing happened after the march in January. I would have loved to have been able to attend the march, but Matt had to work, and I didn’t feel comfortable managing Squirt and a stroller by myself on what I knew would be standing room only public transportation. I didn’t have a lot of anxiety about Squirt being at the march itself, but I did have anxiety about managing a rowdy toddler on my own in a massive crowd. So I didn’t go. I made the best decision for me and my family (#feminism). Not one of my friends, colleagues, or peers put me down in any way shape or form for not going. But I did see plenty of people attacking those who did choose to go and march, many of them women. And it blew. my. mind. Trust me, I am so happy that there are women out there who have never been sexually harassed at work. I think it’s awesome that there are women who have never been made to feel less than because of their gender. I wish I were a woman who has never been made to feel ashamed of my body–because teachers, employers, family members, peers, and colleagues have been making me feel uncomfortable and sexualized in my own skin since I was twelve. So believe me when I say that I am thrilled that there are women out there who have never had to deal with even the most minor of sexually degrading comments. But trust me, you women saying you didn’t need the march because you are equal and have never been the victim of sexual discrimination, you are in the minority.
And just for the record, if you are a woman living in the United States, you are not equal. Period. According to the World Economic Forum’s annual Gender Gap Report, America is ranked 45 out of 144 countries when it comes to gender disparity. Ranked above us are several countries in Africa and South America, along with most of Europe. The report, for which research is conducted by an independent and non-partisan firm, looks at four major areas–healthcare, education, economy, and politics. The US is actually ranked number one in education (well, tied with 23 other countries for number one), which is great. We are 26 when it comes to economic participation and opportunity. When it comes to health, we are 62. This means that 61 other countries provide better access to healthcare to their female population than the United States. This area takes into account the mortality rate (breaking it down by specific causes of death), and also includes all maternity care, and damages done by incidents of domestic violence. The final area countries are scored in is politics, which is where we received our lowest ranking, 73. This score is based off of the number of female representatives (or in our case the lack of female representatives) in our government. So for those who choose to shoot down feminists in America because women in other countries “have it so much worse”…..um, not so much. Are there countries where it is worse? Duh. No one would argue with that. But we have a long way to go before men and women in America are “equal”. If you would like to check out the full report for yourself, here is the link to the Global Gender Report.
Okay, so maybe issues of healthcare, education, economics, and politics don’t matter to those tearing down and demeaning feminists. Let’s move on to sexual assault and rape. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five American women will be raped at some point in their lives. One in ten American women will be raped or assaulted by her partner or spouse. One in four girls will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen. Rape is the most under-reported crime in America, with approximately 63% of cases not being reported to the police. Here are just a few reasons why victims choose not to report their rape to the police: they needed to protect themselves or others in their family from retaliation by the offender (especially prevalent since eight out of ten rape victims know their attacker), they believed the police would not believe them or help them, they felt it wasn’t important enough to report, and they didn’t want to get their attacker in trouble (RAINN). And here is what happens when victims do report: Out of 1000 rapes, 310 are reported to the police, 57 of those will lead to arrest, of which 11 cases will be turned over to prosecutors. From there, seven will be convicted of a felony, and SIX will do time. Let’s repeat that: FOR EVERY 1000 CASES OF RAPE, SIX WILL END WITH THE RAPIST SERVING TIME. Please see this link from RAINN for more information.
Last year many in the country, including conservatives, were up in arms (and rightly so) over the ridiculous sentence of Brock Turner, a college student convicted of rape. Though he legally could have been given up to ten years in prison for his crime, the judge instead sentenced him to six months. He was released after serving just three. We were all outraged. I don’t know a single woman who, during that week or so of social media blasting, said “Eh. It’s fine, he only deserved three months.” And yet, here we are just months later and women who are standing up for the rights of all women are being told that we are equal and we don’t have anything to fight for. Am I living in some sort of alternate universe? Because just a few months ago we were all demanding harsher sentencing for sexual assault, but now marching for women is whining? (For sources relating to Turner’s conviction, click here; for sources relating to Turner’s release, click here.)
So here’s the deal for today. My day is going to look much like any other. I work from home and run my own business, and I take care of my kid. I will still attend to my business because I need to. I will still take care of my kid because I need to. I won’t be doing any shopping or spending any money, and if I actually change out of my pajamas, I will be wearing red to show my support for the movement. If you are a woman and you decide to go to work today, I’m not going to yell at you or shame you because I trust that you are smart enough to make the right decision for you. However, if you are shaming women who decide to take part in the protest, then I’m probably gonna come at ya. Unless I can actually manage to stay off social media for the day (unlikely), in which case, I will probably have a peaceful day.