#notyourmarch?

In an attempt to wake up and eventually drag myself out of bed, I reached for my phone and started scrolling through my Instagram feed. I quickly came upon a beautiful selfie of a childhood friend whom I love and adore. I started reading the comment that accompanied the photo and it successfully accomplished the very difficult task of forcing me wide awake. It was about the Women’s Marches on January 21st and how they were simply #nothermarch. After spending a morning (ok, I admit, it was a few days) pondering her viewpoint and how different it was from mine, I decided to do something that usually brings me (at least mild) clarity: write it out. So, this is my cathartic attempt at presenting my perspective on these issues and to create a space for open discussion. Here go:

“Equal pay…That’s an employer issue. There are laws in place (read your labor law posters) to prevent this. Want to get paid as much as my boyfriend and dad? Go get a job doing what they do, and you’ll understand why they get paid that much…”

Fair enough! I have absolutely no desire to get up at 4:00am every morning, rain or shine, to go to a job that is arguably one of the most physically demanding (they both work in the construction industry). However, those dedicated, badass ladies out there doing the same work as her dad and boyfriend don’t get the same paycheck. Women in the natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations only get an average of about 75.7% of what men make doing the same thing.

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Also, while labor law posters do specify things like what your minimum wage should be and how much paid time off you should be getting, there’s nothing there that says anything about how to destroy the patriarchy by letting men and women get paid the same for doing the same job.

“Abortion…You can still get one. I’m pro-choice. It IS your right to get one, and my right. It is your body. But it’s YOUR responsibility to pay for it. That’s more than fair. And, if that’s not appealing, those safer clinics running off donations will still be around to give you free or low cost preventatives. Time to start being responsible.”

Yes, women can still technically get abortions if they want one…As long as there is a clinic within a reasonable distance that they can get to that will let them have one. In states like Missouri, North Dakota, and Kentucky, there is limited coverage of abortions, usually only allowing them when it is medically necessary. Easy, just head to the next state over! If you’re tight on funds to begin with, though, this might be a problem. Traveling is costly, not to mention the opportunity cost of missing work to get there. In many states, a woman will have to wait days after the initial consultation before she can take the abortion pill or have the procedure. This means that she most likely needs to have money for a hotel while she’s in the next state over. I suppose she could go back to her home state and work for those couple days, but that would mean spending twice as much on transportation costs. It’s no wonder that poor women are affected most by these laws. So, yes, you can get an abortion if you have the means to do so. Tough luck, poor ladies! Oh, and that’s one in eight of us.

To make matters worse, low-income women have a higher rate of unintended pregnancies and abortions. This is mainly due to the fact that they are less likely to have health insurance or consistent access to healthcare, and therefore, birth control. A lot of low-income women’s only means of accessing birth control is through Planned Parenthood and we all know what Donnie thinks about that particular healthcare provider…

I’m not sure what these “safer clinics” are, but if they provide preventatives, where do low-income women go once preventatives are a moot point? There’s not much you can do about preventing a pregnancy that’s already there.

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And on the topic of responsibility…Over half the women in the low-wage workforce work full-time and a large majority work all year. I’d say that’s pretty darn responsible. Even with working so much , though, very few low-income women have enough to cover an unexpected $800-$1500 abortion and need financial assistance. I’m a middle-class woman who considers herself a responsible adult (most of the time) and I still can’t remember the last time I had that much extra in my bank account.

While we’re on the subject of low-income women, we have to mention the fact that most low-income women in the US are women of color. Black women and other women of color are disproportionately affected by low access to places where they can get family planning. Black and Latina adolescents usually have less thorough reproductive health education than their white counterparts, contributing to more unplanned pregnancies and STIs. So, how can they be responsible if they’ve never been given the opportunity to know what to be responsible about?

“if I legitimately WANT a traditional life, married to my guy, and being a stay at home mom…It’s women saying I’m holding the gender back. Huh??”

Yeah, totally 100% agree that those people are annoying and give the rest of us feminists a bad name. Feminism is about letting women choose exactly what they want to do with their lives without any outside influences and about other women being supportive of those choices. Leaving moms and other women who choose “traditional lives” out of the discussion is a travesty to the feminist movement.

May Summer, an influential figure in the riot grrl movement of the early 90s, had this to say on being ostracized for being heterosexual and wanting a “traditional lifestyle”: “It may seem like I’m the one who sold out, and I get a lot of shitty het privilege in society but I lose a lot of power in society too and I think when womyn are putting down other womyn for wearing lipstick, having male partners, or god forbid raising children they are actually buying into the lie.” (Marcus, 2010)

So, if sporting ruby red lips and having a hubby and babies is wholeheartedly what you want to do, awesome! Don’t let anyone tell you differently!

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“I just don’t agree with the extreme thing that it’s become…dehumanization, denial, being molded by men…No.”

Here are a few choice words from our now Commander-in-Chief in reference to women:

  • You can grab them by the pussy
  • If you’re a star, you can do anything.
  • Must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees
  • I just start kissing them, I don’t even wait
  • I moved on her like a bitch
  • She gained a massive amount of weight. It was a real problem.
  • Rosie O’Donnell is disgusting
  • You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her…wherever.
  • A person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10
  • I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her
  • I did try and fuck her. She was married.
  • Do you believe in punishment for abortion? The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment. For the woman? Yes, there has to be some form.
  • Putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing
  • Are you gonna have more kids? Yeah, sure…I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them.
  • She’s probably deeply troubled and, therefore, great it bed.
  • When I get home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof
  • Do you treat women with respect? Uh…I can’t say that.
  • No one has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.
    • How convincing!

The sad part is that those are only a few of the horrible things he’s said about women over the years. There’s more… much more.

To me, those comments are horrendous and the fact that a large portion of Americans said, “oh, no biggie. I’ll still vote for him” or worse, agreed with those comments, is extremely disturbing. Despite him saying awful, awful shit about women through the course of his life and, especially, his campaign, enough people decided that it just didn’t really matter. Women being treated with common decency and respect is just something a lot of Americans could care less about. To me, that is extremely troubling and calls for an extreme response from those who do want to ensure that their president is someone they would feel ok leaving their daughter alone in a room with for more than two minutes, let alone make policy decisions about her health and wellness.

“women’s rights being threatened?? That’s an assumption. That’s pulled out of the air, as far as I’m concerned. You can vote, still can get an abortion, serve in the military, work full time with a family, not have a family…”

Let’s unpack:

You can vote: Yep, sure can. Shout out to my suffragettes! BUT women (especially low income women of color) do experience disproportionately high problems with voter registration, which can often lead to them not being able to register to vote. And low-income women of color are also at a higher risk of not being able to vote due to felony charges, even long after their sentence has been served.

You can still get an abortion: Already touched on this, but yes, you can as long as you can afford it and the transportation/lodging expenses associated with it, which a lot of women cannot.

Serve in the military: Sure. Just be prepared to encounter sexual harassment and possibly sexual assault. One in three military women have been sexually assaulted and that’s with about 14% of those crimes still going unreported. Of all sexual assaults in the military, 88% are against women and 12% against men. While sexual assault is obviously unacceptable regardless of which gender is experiencing it, the numbers still clearly point to women being disproportionately affected.

Work full time with a family: Hm, I’m not so sure…The cost of childcare is outrageous! What happens if your partner or family member isn’t able to stay home with the kids or if you don’t have a partner? The average cost nation-wide for a week of childcare is about $196. Based on conversations with friends who have kids, I’d say this is even on the low side. If you need an after-school sitter (which is likely if you’re working a 9-5 and school gets out around 3-4pm), that’ll set the average family back $214 a week and if you want a nanny, get ready to fork out a whopping $556/week! Full-time childcare for a four year old is more expensive than in-state public college tuition in 23 states. That’s a whole hellova lotta dough. That means that if you’re a single mom with one kid living at the poverty level (a situation that a substantial amount of American women find themselves in), you’re making around $16,020/year. That’s $333.75/week. Hardly enough to cover the cost of a week of childcare combined with after school care (or even one or the other) plus living expenses associated with raising a child. Chances are, you’re going to have to quit your job to take care of your family or you’re just not going to be able to afford having one.

No assumptions, just good ol’ fashioned facts. And not the alternative kind, either! Sorry, Kellyanne…

“The second I feel my rights are threatened, I’ll march with you.”

I feel many things. I feel that my dog is better company than most people. I feel that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are God’s gift to the world. I feel that constantly buying shitty wine does in no way make me tasteless. While I hold these truths to be self-evident, many would disagree with me (these people are obviously ridiculous).

And here I will have to disagree. I very much understand why you would feel that your rights are not threatened. That is because they most likely aren’t. You are a white, middle-class, relatively privileged person with a nice job, living in a mostly safe community with family and friends who support you. You are winning at life! High five! But I’ve presented just a few of the cold, hard, facts that make it pretty clear (at least to me) that that lifestyle is not reality for a lot of women. SO many women have to really struggle to get the same things you have and I think it’s worth acknowledging that. Even more than acknowledging, though, it’s important to say NOPE and advocate for women in those precarious positions, especially if you have the means to do so.

In the great words of a great woman, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” I’m going with Audre on this one.

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