The recent attacks on women have come from all sides: legislators, talk show hosts, religious organizations, and even schools seem hell-bent on deciding what is and is not appropriate for American women today. Time Magazine is telling us that we should be breast-feeding our children up to and beyond when they can form coherent sentences like “I’m hungry” and “What’s for dinner?” And, what’s even more worrisome, women are arguing amongst themselves over whether they can “have it all” or not “have it all” or that “having it all” is an illusive opium-induced hallucination or whatever.
So, with all of this noise, all of this cacophony, what on Earth is the average American woman supposed to do? SIDENOTE: Better yet, can we still say that there is any such thing as the “average American woman”? Does she still have 2.4 kids, is she married/single/divorced/widowed? Why do we still feel as if we’re in the business of prescribing anything to anyone when modern-day society is no longer the (seemingly) homogeneous thing it used to be. But let’s say there is one: the token average American woman. Does she go about her day as if nothing is happening around her? Or does she go out and “fight the fight”?
Let’s look at an example. And because I am supremely lazy, it’s going to be… ME.
I, myself, am not directly affected by the myriad of legislation geared toward limiting women’s choices: I am not currently pregnant or using any birth control other than condoms (thankfully, I have no painful menstrual cramps or endometriosis to regulate). I already buy my own health insurance and don’t work for a religious organization that would like to decline to buy it for me. I don’t want kids (I know, crazy! Ah, don’t worry, “she’ll change her mind” you’re thinking) so I don’t have to worry about how long or how much or how often I should breastfeed them. Nor do I worry about whether I can HAVE IT ALL because I really only want some. And Rush Limbaugh didn’t call me a slut, so there.
And yet, I’m writing this from my cubicle at Legal Momentum, the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. Because I do care. Because it does hurt me when these things are said/done/typed/proposed/passed/thought (BIG BROTHER, AHHHH! Get out of my head!) even if the legislation and fighting does not affect my choices directly.
Why does it hurt me? Because it comes across as if these people, whatever their ultimate goal is, do not respect me as a human being. These people seem to believe that it is easier for them to make the choice for me, or someone like me, instead of giving me the facts and the education necessary to make that choice. So, to me, the answer seems obvious: the average American woman does fight. Because it does affect her, and not just by saving her 40 bucks in some pills or something, but because this is an attack on her fundamental human-ness. Her equality and her right.
So, if you agree with me, where does that leave us? I tell you: I have no idea. But if everyone would just quiet down a second and let me think, maybe I’d be able to get there.