Some Reasons Why. My response to the meme floating around about the non-issue of women’s rights in the US

(My response to the meme that starts with ‘I am not a disgrace to women’)

I am not a disgrace to women because I don’t support the Women’s March. But I may be a woman who has been so heavily influenced by patriarchal society that I choose not to look at this issue thoroughly with open eyes and discriminatory thinking.

I do not feel I am a second class citizen — because I choose not to let the implications of my sex’s 77% earnings sink in as discrimination or acknowledge the very real impact this disparity has on US poverty levels.

I do not feel I am denied opportunities in this life or in America because I am a woman — because I assume there is a way to explain away the fact that 71 countries have better female representation in their government bodies.

I do not feel I am “not respected or that I am undermined” because I am a woman — because my decade’s long coping mechanism for dealing with disrespectful, misogynistic speech and behavior is to disassociate and laugh it off as ‘a man being a man’. The result of my adaptation is that my daughters and grand-daughters have to face the same words and actions and often learn the same unhelpful coping mechanisms.

I do not feel that I “don’t have control of my body or choices” because I am a woman. True, it is convenient that my body choices fit the political agenda with which I agree, so I don’t have to consider the reality that other women may hold a different view than I. And since I am not the one out of every five women in my country who has been sexually abused, I have the good fortune to close my eyes to the fact that this control of my body is not the same as what millions of other American women experience.

To reassure myself of my view, I choose to compare my life to those whose lack of rights as women is more explicit and has a greater ‘shock factor’ than mine. I choose at the same time to actively ignore the recent UN report that specifically noted that “US women do not take their rightful place as citizens of the world’s leading economy,” that 73 countries have more successfully closed the wage gap and 78 countries have healthier life expectancy (in part related to the increase in maternal mortality rates in the US), and that only one other country in the world does not guarantee maternity leave.

I choose not to acknowledge that the rapporteurs who made these findings are from countries such as Indonesia, Costa Rica, Tunisia, Poland — not even from leading ranked countries in women’s rights such as Iceland, Norway, or Finland. I choose to ignore the Kenyan women who marched in Nairobi because they believe that the leader of the free world’s identity as a misogynist is a very real threat to progress in their own fight against female genital mutilation and sex trafficking, or the Indian women who marched simultaneously to protest against mass assault and victim-blaming. I choose not to recognize that the women who marched in 60 countries around the world, on the same day, feel solidarity with Americans on the issue of women’s rights despite how different that lack of rights may look in their own countries.

I choose to specifically use the stories of those ‘poor’ African, Asian, and Central American women whom I have never met nor spoken with in order to make a point that allows me to dismiss easily the valid concerns of the women in my own country. Because of my indifference to the plight of others with whom I cannot identify, I have never before considered imploring my government to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women — an action which would actually help to make the lives of those women better. No, I choose only to co-opt their struggles to affirm my own place in this world.

I am fortunate indeed that my favorable circumstances allow me the luxury to not even attempt to hear — to actually actively repudiate — the voices of millions of women from my country who do not have this same good fortune. On the basis that the women’s rights issues in my country are not at the very bottom of the world’s scale, I choose to believe that the current situation is ideal and blameless, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is simply whining.

Meanwhile, my sister’s clean clothes cover the scars of the violent abuse by our step-father when she was a child, my mother’s hearty breakfast was paid for by her second job, and my daughter’s trip to participate in a march was the only vacation she’s taken in four years. They are AMERICAN women just like me… or so they think.