Sunday, November 13, 2016
Women's human rights have been under siege as long as I can remember. But certainly since Roe v. Wade, eliminating women's autonomy in all aspects of their lives, and particularly in health care decisions, has been the focus of (mostly) white men and particularly those in Congress.
The convergence of sexual assault protests and concerns over abortion restrictions bring autonomy concerns into clearer focus. Both issues highlight many men's belief that they have the right to control female bodies no matter how personal the decision or how criminal the act that a man is perpetrating. Other issues that may seem disconnected from the issue stem from men's attempts to control women's bodies. Restrictions on public breastfeeding is one. Forcing working women who choose not to abort to return to work prematurely is another. Before their bodies are fully healed from childbirth, mothers are back on the job because maternity leave of sufficient duration is often lacking, even in the rare instances where leave is paid. Employment harassment is difficult to prove, and often dismissed on summary judgment, even when there is proof of lewd comments or other actions directed toward the woman and her body.
The Trump election has prompted women to public advocacy. Women's advocacy in the form of public demonstrations has been largely dormant for the past two decades. That is changing.
On January 21, 2017 women will march on the capitol. The Women's March on Washington, formerly called the Million Women's March, will take place on the Washington Mall and women and allies are invited. The demonstration is in response to women's concerns that they will lose rights because of Mr. Trump's election and promises to be the largest protest to date. Taking place the day after the inauguration, women will voice concerns over the enhanced violence against women, including rape culture, pay equity and the return of women to property status, among other issues.
More information on the march may be found on Facebook. Since the march is being organized state by state, many states have already set up Facebook pages.
One significant flaw in US women's movements has been the exclusivity of white leadership. Indeed, the early violence against women movement barely acknowledged women of color as significant, despite their increased vulnerability to gender based violence. Last week, women of color held a post-election demonstration in NYC. Linda Sasour of MyMuslimVote told the demonstrators “We don’t want to be the generation that says ‘never again,’ and then things happen on our watch. Let us be different.”
If you visit the March on Washington facebook page, why not suggest that leadership be turned over to women of color. Otherwise we perpetuate an unnecessary and disrespectful divide within our gender.