“Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?”
Sojourner Truth asked this question in her famous Ain’t I a Woman speech at the Women’s National Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851. Her words speak to the hypocrisy imbedded in the argument used by the male contingency that opposed the Women’s Suffrage Movement. These men believed women were too fragile and delicate to participate equally in the political process with them. Today, the struggle continues for equity and equality for all women. Even with the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, which calls for equal pay for equal work, women are still systematically discriminated against in the workplace and the marketplace. Why revisit and re-litigate women’s reproductive rights in the year 2013? Why in 2013 is there an argument against there authorization of the Violence Against Women Actwhen in 1994 Senator Joe Biden recognized the severity of the violence perpetrated against women and girls? In response, he introduced the Violence Against Women Act to create a national strategy that intentionally addressed the problem creating a comprehensive approach to the violence with programs to help the victims and provisions in existing laws to hold offenders accountable.
The reauthorization, a few weeks ago, of the Violence Against Women Act, begs the question why would we need such a law if there were no assault or proverbial “war” on women? The so-called, “War on Women” is the rallying cry of many, while others claim it to be a figment of the imagination. However, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which has answered over 3 million calls and receives over 22,000 calls every month; reports that 92% of callers report that it’s their first call for help. It seems women and girls are, in fact,not having hysterical psychotic episodes of the persistent and ongoing assault against them, their rights or their bodies when the evidence is so clear and abundant to the contrary.
Every man I know came through a woman. Many have sisters, daughters, aunts and nieces. We need men to stand up, speak up and step up to other men who continually marginalize women through the music they create, movies and media they promote, laws they write and practices they perform including physical, emotional and psychological violent assaults on women and girls. They dishonor themselves, their community and the mothers who birthed them every time they use their privilege as males to continue to push women and girls aside as anything less than equal, fully acknowledged and valued citizens with the same rights, privileges, access, and opportunities afforded to any male identified citizen.
Feminism, simply stated, is the belief in women’s rights. What’s wrong with that? Some folks have gotten it twisted. Celebrating women, honoring women does not mean putting men down or dis-honoring them. Strength is not demonstrated by putting others down, but rather by lifting others up. Not because they cannot lift themselves, but because you choose to appreciate the gifts they bring to the table that you do not. As a society we are stronger together than we are apart. There is a certain humility in the acknowledgement that we need something from someone else. The truth is that beating someone down, whether it is in action or deed, physically or psychologically, does nothing but undermine your own humanity. It makes you weak and shows how insecure you are. There is nothing heroic or admirable in it. So com’on guys…and other folks regardless of how you identify get your act together. Sojourner makes it plain when she says:
“Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them!”
Women and girls are not asking for permission. We are demanding our rights as citizens. We will settle for nothing less than absolute equality and equity in the workplace or the marketplace, in the classroom or the boardroom. We demand the right to walk down the street no matter what without fear. Whether in the daylight or the starlight in the house or in the street the violence must STOP. Violence in ALL of its forms; physical, psychological, emotionalmust end. In public policy and in legislative design the assault on women and girls must end. Sojourner Truth called out the hypocrisy in 1851. Men don’t let what you say be in direct opposition to what you DO. What do you think? Talk to me.