Happy 19th Amendment day! Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote—a right known as woman suffrage. At the time the U.S. was founded, its female citizens did not share all of the same rights as men, including the right to vote. It was not until 1848 that the movement for women’s rights launched on a national level with a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, organized by abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Lucretia Mott (1793-1880). I found this information from the website: http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/19th-amendment.
Women’s rights, or empowerment, seems to be a huge topic at the moment. There are leftist women who claim #Feminism and there are conservative women who claim #RealFeminism and everywhere in between. I have had many a Twitter debate with those from the left who proclaim that they are the true feminists. Their definition of the feminist struggle is something like this: Women are being held back from achieving their goals, be it taking care of their health, improving their self-esteem, expressing their sexual desires, aborting their unwanted babies, earning what they consider a reasonable salary or whatever they want to do. Who or what is holding them back from achieving these goals? Men.
Apparently, the very existence of a man can keep a woman from doing something she otherwise would be able to do.
So, let me get this straight, Feminists. Men keep you from doing what you want to do and they should stop stopping you? How empowering is it that you willingly hand over responsibility for your own life to “Men”? It’s one thing to be held against your will. It’s entirely different to hold yourself against your will and blame others. Empowerment is an internal thing. A personal recognition of your own power over yourself. No one can actually give that to you, so no one can take it away. I gained about 7 pounds over the summer. You know who did that to me? Me. I ate the food. I didn’t exercise. I made the choices. My husband didn’t force feed me. “Men” didn’t keep me from going to the gym. I did. Female (and male) empowerment is a power that comes from within and everyone is given it from the day they are conceived.
Case in point: #Slutwalk. There are women protesting the idea of being catcalled. Now, I admit that it can be somewhat disconcerting, especially if I’m feeling particularly vulnerable that day. But, overall, I don’t mind it because I know I am in control of myself and I get to choose how to handle it. However, there is a huge chasm between catcalling and rape. Huge. My bet is this – the men who catcall, they aren’t the rapists. Men who catcall seem to be men who like what they see and can’t manage to just shut up and enjoy the view. (Let the rage comments begin in 3…2…) In the scheme of struggles, this is on the “not a big deal” level. I had a woman tell me that catcalling caused women to not like themselves. My guess – women who don’t like themselves don’t like catcalls because they don’t believe they are meant in a “We like what we see” sort of way. Insecurity causes that. Not catcalls.
Also part and parcel to the feminist movement is abortion. One cannot call themselves a feminist and be against abortion. To do so means that you align with the oppressive patriarchy, you believe that all women belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen and you are being forced to wait hand and foot on your man. I don’t understand why abortion is related to female empowerment. Is it powerful knowing that you have the ability to kill another human being? Yes. Is relabeling the state of being of that human to fit your narrative so that it sounds like you aren’t actually killing a person empowering? No. Didn’t work with black people, doesn’t work with babies. Just because you call the person something less baby-sounding doesn’t make the baby less of a living being. This has nothing to do with female empowerment. Oh – but our bodies our decisions. Sure, if every baby had to be surgically removed from our female bodies and we lost part of ourselves physically during each pregnancy, like say losing a finger for each child, then possibly the baby is a part of our body. Otherwise, we are hosts, carrying around a living human being who is separate but dependent on us for its survival. That is incredibly empowering! My body sustaining the life of another person is amazing! I’m amazed that we can do organ transplants. Being pregnant is a people transplant. Take some biological material and create a whole living person. Awe-some!
Another argument I’ve seen is that women don’t have the same level of access to healthcare that men do. Now – I will concede one point, researchers have some catch up to do in regards to medical issues specifically related to women such as how women’s heart health is different than men’s. However, I have never visited a doctor who has said or even implied that because I’m a woman, I can’t get what I need. Ob/Gyn visits are available especially for me. This argument is irrelevant to female empowerment and it’s false.
My least favorite feminist argument is that somehow women are less equal under the law. If justice is blind, how is this possible? With the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women became completely equal to men under the law. Women can vote, we are treated as individuals instead of property, we can own our own stuff. We won our right to be treated equally. The arguments I see regarding equality don’t seem to be “Treat me equal” but more “Everything must be 50/50”. Treating someone equally means having criteria and holding everyone, regardless of sex, to the same standard. Being 50/50 means having different criteria to meet the goal of 50% male and 50% female. If a woman is going to be a firefighter, I want her to be able to drag my 6’ 4” 190 lb dad out of his burning house – same goes with a man. Not as many females can do that. The standard must apply for everyone’s safety, not for everyone’s good feeling of half the force being male and half being female. Men and women are different and we should embrace those differences and let the best of ourselves shine through. That is empowering.
As I mentioned on Twitter in a rant, I can’t think of one man who I could point at and say “Him – he held me back from achieving every one (or even one) of my dreams”. As a friend reminded me though, I can easily look at men I’ve known and say “Him, he taught me how to be a better manager at work – Peter.” And “Those two, they helped me get my Industrial Engineering degree (and let’s face it, I helped them more, – Jared & Rob). I have encountered many men and women over my lifetime who have been more than willing to give of their time and resources to help me on my way. I may not have “needed” the help, but I am a much better person because of it.
As a woman, I am not dependent on a man nor am I being held back by one. My esteem comes from within, from my faith in my Creator and my genuine appreciation of the gifts that I bring to this world. Nobody can give me these things; thus, no one can take them away. The gift of empowerment is available to everyone. No one can hold you back. It’s up to you whether you choose to take it, and the responsibilities and consequences that go with it, or not. Stop blaming men (or women or him or her) and take the empowerment that is rightly yours.