Yep, I’m a Feminist

girl power

There are things going on right now that deeply disturb me. Strange and unusual things. Things like a movement to redefine what rape is to counteract Roe vs. Wade. I get that people don’t like abortions, but what I don’t understand is why any woman in her right mind would support legislature that decreases the rights we’ve fought so hard to get in the first place. Push the topic of abortion aside for a moment. Redefining an ugly act that has a deep stigma associated with it for its victims is really narrow-sighted and incredibly selfish. This isn’t “for the people,” this is for someone’s vanity.

Just this morning, I came across an article talking about how Justice Scalia claims the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to women or gays, in part because he prefers an original interpretation of the law. The “original interpretation” makes me laugh. Our founding fathers were not gods, they were human. They applied the law to what they thought would be best for their society at the time. Although the law does affect future generations, there’s only so far a human being can see into the future. Take a trip back in time for a second. The 14th Amendment was drafted because back in 1868, they were still dealing with the repercussions of something called “slavery,” yet another topic we gloss over and pretend has no effect on racism today.

Keep in mind, too, women didn’t receive the right to vote until 1920. That is less than a hundred years ago. Multi-racial marriages? Weren’t legal until 1967. It’s worse for people dealing with sexual orientation issues; it’s now 2011 and two human beings still can’t marry who they choose to? Were any of these changes in the constitution? Nope. Laws change as a result of our cultural progress. Sure, our culture ebbs and flows like the tide, but it flourishes when we have a well-fed, healthy and literate population.

What kills me about these attacks, is that if we let this happen, we do a great disservice to the generations that came before us. We forget the wars they fought to be treated like decent human beings. The U.S. is still very, very young compared to the rest of the world; our country is unusual because it has experienced rapid growth. Are we cultural leaders? Yeah, not a chance.

While this country has been through a lot, our short history is rooted in violence and strife because a bunch of immigrants forged a series of micro-cultures on top of the ones that already existed here. (e.g. Native Americans. Yeah, they were here first. For thousands of years, in fact.) Did America begin with an amalgamation of different religious and political movements? Yes. Has our society changed dramatically over the last century? Yes. Not only did we go through several wars and the Age of Industrialism, our population levels have increased, to the point where a movement called “zero population growth” was founded in the late 60s. And we’re still growing. Still advancing. Still changing. Truly, miraculous.

Mind you, I love this country and all its possibilities, but what I don’t love about it is our cultural attacks on “the other.” When someone isn’t like us, typically we don’t try to identify with them, we isolate them and attack them. Worse, we make claims that someone is whining when they stand up for themselves. It takes a bunch of kids dying for us to go, “Oh shit, maybe bullying gay kids is bad.” Terrible stuff, that.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge we face is apathy. The increased channels of communication we have are both a blessing and a curse. Change is happening all over the world and we’re right there to see it, hear it and respond to it without ever leaving our desk. But change is damn scary to a lot of people, if not most of them. Very scary. Some believe that if they themselves change, it makes them less honorable or a hypocrite. Some people are so afraid, that they need to either revert progress to make it safer for them and those around them, or they hide and stick their heads in the sand. Let someone else deal with it, it’ll sort itself out. Right? Or, change it back to the way it was, because that’s how they can cope.

Maybe I’m missing something, but when did we lose our ability to be empathetic toward other human beings?

So what happens when the proposed changes by our elected leaders are not justifiable? What then? Do we allow a reversal of rights to happen, even when it doesn’t apply to us directly, because it’s too hard to deal with? We absolutely have to pick our battles, sure. But for crying out loud, if there’s one thing I learned: the less you exercise the rights you have, the more chance you have of them being taken away.

So yeah, I’m a feminist. I abhor labels, especially ones I have to identify with simply because I support the idea that all human beings were created equal. For bonus points, you should know I also believe we are not islands. Just by living, we have a relationship with other people, our environment and the animals around us. So, I guess my stance also makes me a person of coloralist and a gayist and a senior citizenist and an animal loverist… Well, you get the idea.

A couple of links follow below. I am absolutely willing to hear alternate points of view. Do I listen to the “you suxx0rs” comments? Yeah, no. Fair warning: if you’re going to be an asshole, I will screen your comments out. Unlike YouTube! or a newspaper, I do have a comment policy. Say what you gotta say, just don’t be a jerk about it.

Oh? And the reason for the picture? Because I needed a little pick-me-up. I shouldn’t have to remind myself why I’m awesome, but hey… Sometimes, I have to reassure myself that just because I was born a woman, of which I had no choice over, I don’t have to allow myself to be treated like dirt.

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