“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”
― Gloria Steinem
I am a woman, a mother, a daughter, I have been a wife (twice) and I am privileged. I have had access to a very high standard of education, I was taught that I own my body, I was given financial and emotional support to move forward in this world and this is true of many of the women I know. However, it is also true that most of the women I know, who have been as privileged as me, have been sexually violated, passed over for promotions in the workplace and in situations where we have allowed our voices to be heard, we have been told to ‘calm down’, we have been called difficult, bitchy, bossy or domineering. What also amazes me is the silence and shame that follows. The way we grin and bear it or just roll our eyes, as though this is the norm. If a woman as brazen as me, says nothing when a man says something overtly sexual and inappropriate, when my first instinct is to not offend him…what hope is there for the women who haven’t been given the privileges I have?
There is a list floating out on the internet on ‘Rape Prevention Tips’. The list has suggestions like this:
- Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
- When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
- If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.
I don’t know who wrote this list, and while I am sure it was meant to be facetious, it says something very important about the way our society has dealt with gender issues. While it is detrimental in gender politics to place women in the role of victim, I think it is equally dangerous to label men as oppressors. Rape prevention tips that tell women to not dress provocatively or cross the street away from a man at night is saying that every man is a potential danger. This is not true.
I know many amazing men. I know men who treat women with respect, they listen when I speak and support me. Both genders have shaped our world and it is the calling of both genders to speak out against inequality. Whether it is based on religion, race, sexual orientation or gender, inequality damages us all . So, while the articles in this month’s issue may seem like exclusively ‘women’s issues’….. do any of us move through the world without being affected?
I hope that this International Women’s Day on March 8th, men and women will both celebrate and honor our mothers, our daughters, our wives and ourselves.
See you next month,