A Treatise on Millennial Feminism: The Things I Know
I very rarely use this blog as a forum for political statements, debates, or discussions. That being said, I think lawmakers have in the last few months begun to encroach unforgivably on what it is to be a woman, and I think that that is an issue that bears addressing, in this or any forum. I have a respect for all living things, but first and foremost for the life that is already being lived, the sustainable life, not what some politico-spiritual mouthpiece with an agenda says life may or may not be. With that in mind…
- I know most twenty-somethings thought feminism had changed – what with all those waves and decades and literary movements we learn about in school – but we’ve discovered that the same issues (like this one and this one) are still in play, even in the second decade of the new millennium.
- I know I’m not a traditional feminist. After all, I don’t frown when men hold the door for me, don’t insist on grabbing the check every time, and I’m certainly not inclined towards burning a single one of my undergarments (hey, they’re not cheap!).
- I know that as a human being I have certain unalienable rights, and having been born on American soil and certified as an American citizen, those rights are accorded to me by the centuries-old brainchild of several brilliant, visionary men in powdered wigs and breeches.
- I know that all men are created equal, and that we now commonly translate men as “human beings.”
- I know that, physically, men and women are not the same. Our arms tend to be weaker than a man’s, but our legs are often stronger; we have wombs, and breasts, and hormones that make us a little wacky from time to time. We have softer jawlines and brow ridges, and wider hips.
- I know I have a higher tolerance for pain, sickness, and hardship than many men. I also know I get that from my mother, who got it from many of the women before her who showed her what it is to be strong.
- I know that everything else is a result of my parents’ values, Disney movies, Kelli Kapowski, Taylor Swift, Backstreet Boys, Cosmo, playground expectations, “America’s Next Top Model,” Vogue, classroom lessons – general social consensus, not biological capacity for strength, ambition, intelligence, or other accepted forms of badassery.
- I know that, despite those quantifiable differences, I am no closer to the status of a cow, a sheep, or a sow than any other two-legged, mostly-hairless hominid and have equal rights bestowed on me by the very act of being born with 23 human chromosomes.
- I know that the Madonna/Whore justification for any way of thought is commonly considered trite in literary academia — if it’s thought of as passe in a discipline that is (in)famous for clinging to the past, I know it can’t have any place in our world today.
- I know I work as hard as all of my coworkers, that I am as gifted at my job as they are, and that we all deserve the same compensation, commensurate with experience, education, and training, not sex traits or expected gender roles.
- I know that domination is only one kind of strength, a more desperate kind, the kind that those too weak to win loyalty and trust, and too scared to be perceived as wrong, tend towards and aspire to.
- I know that domination is destruction in a power suit.
- I know that religion and spirituality are as personal as each individual soul, and
- I know that I have no reason to accept being bullied into accepting – or pretending to accept – what someone else’s spiritual leader says is “right,” just like I have no reason to accept being bullied by my peers into loathing my curly hair, my extreme empathy for animals, my breasts, or my intrinsic dislike of mayonnaise.
- I know that when domination and religion meet, no good can come of it (think: nearly every major genocide in the past 100 years).
- I know that rape is a form of domination that presents in the most intimate, angry way possible.
- I know that forbidding things doesn’t stop them from happening (think: 90% of preachers’ kids when they get to college); they just become more dangerous.
- I know (and hope) that I might never unexpectedly, violently, or wrongfully conceive, or that I might never be simply and profoundly terrified and alone in this world if I do, and
- I know (and hope) that the need to terminate a pregnancy which is mortally dangerous to myself or the bundle of cells that will become a human inside of me might never be in my future.
- I know that I’m smart and careful and thoughtful and cautious and idealistic. I also know that not everyone would approach even such a significant decision with the necessary gravity.
- I know that I have the right not to have something in my body if I don’t want it there – that includes foods, drugs, alcohol, foreign objects, growths, opposite-sex sex organs, other body parts, medical equipment, and reproducing human cells.
- I know that if women are raped of their right to do with their bodies what they wish, if that right is compromised, removed, or otherwise tampered with, we will take several decades-wide steps backwards in the development of equal rights, back to a time when women (and those who preyed on their vulnerability) controlled reproductive mistakes with coat hangers, herbal remedies, and birth control hidden in their underwear drawers.
Perhaps I’m only a debutante in the real world, a little 24 year old girl just getting confident in walking in an adult’s shoes, but I’ve been alive, human, and female long enough to know that I have just as much right as anyone to choose what happens to me. I know that I work hard and deserve to be compensated based on my results, not my vagina.
I know that I may never need to have an abortion but, just like I will support the right of hate mongers who say it’s wrong to both speak out and share their religious views without repercussions, I will go to my grave supporting the right of any other female on this earth to do so.
And with the most powerful conviction of all, I know that until you have a womb of your own to control, you can stay the hell out of mine.