Friday, February 17, 2012

Boys and Girls Part II

I suppose it is now time. I've been putting this blog off for a while, and, at the moment, I have a massive pile of work to complete, but I can't sit idly by right now.

In the past twenty-four hours, a great deal has been happening in Washington concerning women. It is all unsettling.

My senior year in high school, my English teacher made us draw research paper topics from a hat. I pulled out a small slip of paper on which the words "The Woman Rebel" were neatly typed. I chuckled to myself. It was too me.

My education, almost in its entirety, took place at a private Christian school, and I loved it. Not only did I consider myself to be a Christian leader, but I felt my calling was deeper than what I was being told. I never bought into the idea that women could not teach the Bible to men. I always felt that kind of thinking was flawed. We had a big debate in school during my eighth grade year wherein the question was put up for discussion as to whether or not women could read the Bible or speak in chapel (which met three times a week). I remember the ignorant things boys said to me during this time as I talked openly about the validity in a woman's voice. I remember lying in bed at night, praying (although my praying was never a very bowed head on my knees experience, it was more like chatting with God), and asking the question out loud, "if you don't want me to speak, why did you fill me with this  burning desire to do so?" I still hold to that. I have never and will never buy into the idea that the place of a woman in ANY case is silently behind a male head of the household. There is not a single part of my being that can withstand taking the back seat, even more so today.

Thus, when I received my research paper topic, it seemed as if it had been designed for me, as if the teacher had nudged it forward a little before I plunged my hand into the masses of less appropriate topics. So I learned about Margaret Sanger and her battle to educate women about their bodies, about birth control. At the time, birth control was not legal, but it was available to the very wealthy. How convenient. The wealthy were aided in the protection of their assets through the ability to stop having children when they desired. Middle and lower class women had no access to family planning options and were therefore forced to continue having children (if they wanted to continue to have sex) despite their socioeconomic stature, despite whether or not they could afford it.

All Sanger did was publish a pamphlet, "The Woman Rebel," and mail it to as many women, young and old, that she could. The pamphlet contained information not only about contraception and family planning but also about the basics of sexuality. She sought to educate women as to what was happening to their bodies. It was sex education, and she was arrested for it. SHE WAS ARRESTED FOR TEACHING WOMEN ABOUT THEIR BODIES. This was 1914.

Today, almost 100 years later, women currently have a panel of MEN discussing their right to affordable birth control. A PANEL OF MEN. We  have MEN that want to tell us what we should and should not do with our own bodies. They believe they are the voice of God. But this is not the god that I know. I  have never met this god in my life, and although I have distanced myself a great deal from organized religion, I still claim to know God. I still believe in God. And this is no god I have ever met.

If  you don't understand feminism, if you have bad feelings about it, I encourage you to open your minds to it. Read a small book entitled Feminism is For Everybody. It is a book by the wonderful teacher, writer, and theorist bell hooks (she does not capitalize her name...sooo edgy). It may seem to be ridiculous. It may seem to be a waste of time to you, but it is not. Feminism is anti-sexism. That is all. Feminism is the belief that we are equal human beings, different in many ways, but we all meet the challenges of life on the same level. It is not our place to subordinate each other. It is not our place to dominate.

I could write volumes. I'm sure I will at some point, but at the moment, I will leave you with two quotes from bell hooks that seem to very appropriate at the moment:

"I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance."

"Being oppressed means the absence of choices."

and finally

"Even the most subjected person has moments of rage and resentment so intense that they respond, they act against. There is an inner uprising that leads to rebellion, however short-lived. It may be only momentary but it takes place. That space within oneself where resistance is possible remains."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fully and completely agree. I feel that every woman should have the means to protect her own body within her grasp. They only heard testimonies from two women I believe, both of whom (as I suspect they made sure) opposed the policy. The voice of women in favor was not put forth in the House Committee hearing over the topic.

Also, I discovered bell hooks for the first time recently and fell in love with her. Great recommendation. :)