The Women’s March: When do we have it “bad enough” to speak out?

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A viral Facebook post attributed to a woman named Christine explaining why women feel they don’t need to march took the internet by storm on Sunday, January 22nd. A large number of women spoke up agree that they didn’t need to march because they are equal, they feel heard, and there are those globally who have it worse off then women do here in the United States.

Another powerful post rebutted Christine’s argument and was published today by Susan Speer, https://medium.com/@susan.speer/to-christy-on-facebook-who-doesnt-need-the-women-s-march-beb4948e1e4b#.i3kemzrob

I’d like to piggy-back off of Susan’s thoughts  articulated in her post and go in a slightly different direction.  The original post stated that women in countries such as Pakistan, Guatemala, Mali, Saudi Arabia and others suffer from greater injustices that we do here in the US.  Because of the scale of these injustices, we women in the US have no right to march about anything since we have clean clothes and a much easier life than women in these areas do.  Susan mentions in her post that to discuss these injustices is a whole other topic, and I agree–what I’d like to talk about is the idea that while others may be in a worse predicament than we are in, it does not lessen the need for us to continue to fight to make things better here in the United States.

Like it or not, the United States is a global leader and a country with some, if not all, of the greatest freedoms the world has to offer.  We are the perceived pinnacle of the ability to be treated fairly regardless of race, creed, gender or religion.  We know that our system is not perfect, but the freedoms we have here are some of the best the world has to offer.

However, when women in the US try to say that, “we have it good enough here, stop whining,” to other women, what does that mean for our sisters outside of the US?  For example, maybe we consider that in one country, it’s not legal to beat your wife but you have the ability to control her access to education or a career.  In comparison, she’s in a better position than a woman in another part of the world where child marriage or genital mutilation is the norm.  Does that mean that the first woman who is not subject to genital mutilation or child marriage shouldn’t speak out about injustices because in comparison, she’s in a better position?

By lessening the value of a Women’s protest spearheaded in the United States, we do a disservice to women everywhere.  There is no threshold at which someone is allowed to bring attention to inequality.  If a situation is unjust or unequal, being clothed and fed does not preclude us from the right to speak out about the issues.

For those who think a march is not warranted, we can already see examples of freedoms eroding.  Take for example, the recent executive orders signed by President Trump.  Before the election, people argued that with Trump in office we had nothing to worry about in terms of our right to choose because of his history of being Pro Choice.  Now that he is a Republican, however, we are in the first week of Trump’s presidency with executive orders reinstating the “Mexico City Policy,” reducing women’s access to health services on a global scale.

Is the Women’s March valid now?  At what point are we “allowed” to protest?  Do we need to see our freedoms begin to erode before it’s okay to speak up and say no?  When our freedoms are eroded to what degree does it become valid to protest?  To relegate a global movement such as the Women’s Protest into “first world whining,” we shame the movements of women everywhere who are striving for equality and fairness.

If you have equality in your own lives, access to healthcare, a stable home life, and access to education, then I am happy for you.   But I also ask you to recognize that you are in a position of privilege and are not in a position many women share globally.   If you really care about the global plight of women, then I hope you use the same vitriol that you used against the March to fight against the plight of refugees (most of whom are women and children), child marriage, starvation, human trafficking, etc.

Women here in the US are generally safer and have better access to education and healthcare then a lot of women do globally.  Because of these factors, women in the United States who marched in the Women’s March are attempting to use our position of privilege to speak for women everywhere in a global movement.  We can’t let anything slide from language about consent, to access to healthcare and the continued push for gender equality in pay and hiring, because we do have the privilege of being a woman in the US.  The Women’s March wasn’t a bunch of discontented first-world women complaining; this March is the beginning of an international solidarity movement to explain that women everywhere have a voice and there is nowhere that is safe from our voices speaking the truth to power.

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