On Women and Rights: Thoughts for International Women’s Day
I have some thoughts for you in the spirit of International Women’s Day.
The rights of others, specifically the disparity between first and third world countries, do not insist upon your own. Nor are they a commentary on the rights of others, or the state of those rights.
This is to say that the American woman participating on the March on Washington, in light of the new White House Administration’s stances regarding women’s healthcare and trans-women’s rights, does not insist that the average American woman is beset by hardship rivaling women elsewhere in the world.
Rather, her March was making a commentary on the sudden influx of discriminatory and intrusive bills designed to regulate even the most private and intimate topics (e.g.; Oklahoma HB 1441, and Indiana HB 1134, or Texas SB 6 and Virginia HB 1612). The American woman is not disqualified from being dissatisfied with the status quo relative to her world when her Saudi Arabian counterpart is legally forbidden from driving, for example. Both of these circumstances are far more complex than they are given credit for by those who would pit them against each other as if they were somehow at odds.
The concept of rights is not a zero-sum game. We must come to understand that as a society evolves, so too does its needs. Further, context matters. The legalities of women driving are not contextually relevant in any place in the world other than Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, just as the context for sexual harassment in the workplace is only relevant in those parts of the world where women work outside of the home.
Most importantly, you can care for all of the vastly different topics at the heart of this conversation at the same time and act on them accordingly; none of them are mutually exclusive.
It isn’t a contest. This isn’t the Oppression Olympics.
While you are marching, voting, calling your representatives, and discussing these ideas with your peers, always bear in mind that if you enter any conversation with the sole intent of proving “them” wrong, you’ve already lost. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Instead of tearing each other down — including women with different ideas — mind the gap, and meet people where they are, instead of where you think they should be.
We have but one world, one globalized society that we all live in.
We must learn to share it.