Women’s rights and feminism has met with such a backlash in my experience. Why can’t it be about human rights? Why do women want to be better than men?
These questions stem from a gross misunderstanding of feminism in the first place, and a tendency to be intentionally dishonest in discourse. Both questions presume that women’s rights and feminism begin with on an even playing field, instead of the kyriarchal construct that is the society that is designed and lead by men where we must sit and wait for the table scraps of what we are allowed to have that are tossed our way.
Then the real fun starts, right.
Because that is when we start fighting amongst ourselves.
We can’t possibly have equal rights, because we are so busy fighting ourselves and oppressing each other in the process while denying that it is happening. While we fight for Choice we deny that aspects of the Choice argument that systematically oppress certain groups of women. While we insist that women’s rights help everyone, we indignantly refuse to see how our blanket arguments silence many women living in quiet oppression. We want intersectionality, but only if it fits with the agenda that is popular with the commentariat. Even the name “International Women’s Day” leaves out so many who still exist on the margins and deserve a place in this movement (if they want it). But we routinely leave them out while we piss in our own sandboxes.
We have to make room to grow together, and we have to make room to expand, to allow women who don’t fit the privileged commonality of what mainstream feminism, and the primary focus of women’s rights champion’s. We also have to remember that the U.S. experience isn’t universal, and that we can’t expect that our way is the right way. We have to know that while we can offer a hand of assistance we can not always do the work for someone. We have to allow other people to form their feminism along the framework that fits their model so that they can tear down their own axis of oppression.
We have so much left to fight for, because we are still waiting for certain menfolk to finish playing Masters of the Universe and grant us permission to exist, and to have the right to exist as we are when we have the audacity to do so on the axis of gender and oppression. We owe to ourselves and to each other to not destroy ourselves from the inside while we are trying to tear down the structures that hold us back. There are many who want that for us. We are better than that, in so many ways. But we won’t be equal with anyone until we realize it.