Feminist? Yes, I am.

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is:  I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.  ~Rebecca West, “Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice,” The Clarion, 14 Nov 1913, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982

In the wake of both Democratic and Republican convention, I see more division, nastiness, and vitriolic dredging up of the Roe v Wade decision; a Supreme Court decision made almost 40 years ago.  I am saddened by the rage and hatred of so many women.  Heaviness pains my heart.

Why must we be so unkind to each other?  Isn’t it time we moved on?

The heaviness settled in my heart after reading a blogpost:  Frankie v. Debra, Roe v. Wade: Patricia Heaton’s two famous moms, and can you still be a feminist if you’re anti-abortion? By Diane

I am not a fan of either of Patricia Heaton’s recent sitcoms.  I watched a couple episodes of each, just to see what the buzz was about.  Not my cup of tea.  Still, I read an interview of Heaton a couple years ago, and she impressed me.  The gist of what she said went like this:  She is bothered by women thinking of her as a role model for beauty.  Part of her job requires that she looks good.  For that reason, she has a personal trainers; she gets a tummy tuck after giving birth; and she has make-up artists at her elbow.  These are things most women do not have available and don’t even have time for, nor should they be as focused on their looks as Heaton’s job requires her to be.  Brava Patricia Heaton.

Turns out Heaton is part of an organization called “Feminists for Life,” a pro-life organization.  In her blogpost, Diane, asks the question:  Can you be pro-life and be a feminist?  Most responders were adamant that the two things cannot, will not, should not go together.  As one woman points out:  “People who do not eat meat and eat fish/chicken are not vegetarian, even if they think they are. … Vegetarians don’t eat fish. Feminists don’t deny women the right to control their own body.”

What?  I can’t be a feminist unless I support a particular platform?  Only one point of view is tolerable?

Hold on a minute.  Feminism is advocating women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality with men.  In more recent times feminism moved toward recognizing and emphasizing the sisterhood of women.

The rancor is hardly a one-way street.  Ann Coulter filled the Ethernet with nastiness in the name of the Religious Right with her distressful tweets about the DNC:  “They’re spicing things up with a live abortion on stage…” and “Bill Clinton just impregnated Sandra Fluke back stage…”  (Huffington)  A friend told me Coulter is supposed to be funny in a shocking sort of way.  I wanted to wash my eyeballs out with Listerine after reading that tweet.

It’s time to move on.

Based on the logic in the Supreme Court Opinion on abortion it will take a Constitutional Amendment to protecting the rights of the unborn.  The Constitution applies to born men (and women, thanks to the 18th Amendment.)   Just take a moment to wrap your head around what a Constitutional Amendment would mean.  The Constitution would protect anyone conceived in the United States.

As a believer in the sanctity of life and as a feminist, I want the life of a mother protected as much as I want the life of the unborn protected.  I also want the lives of convicted criminals to be protected, and the lives of the poor, and the lives of the disabled and disadvantaged.  I believe we can have all of that if we start working together.  At the same time, I recognize that moral, ethical, and legal are far from equivalent. Nor need they be.

While we are pointing our finger in blame, shaming each other and spreading hateful words, decisions on important issues are being made, and few are paying attention.  Decisions that effect us as women:  jobs, equal pay, taxes, medical research, health and well-being, elder care, education, military engagements, and so much more.  If I believed in conspiracies, I would point to the roar of righteous indignation on both sides as a planned political maneuver; designed to distract us.

I have five biological sisters and I belong to the sisterhood of women.  Feminism allows us to disagree, make mistakes, change our minds, and say things we wish we hadn’t, apologize, and be forgiven.  In the end we must help each other, educate each other, support each other.  Above all, we must love each other.

In the words of Mother Theresa:

There is a terrible hunger for love.
We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness.
We must have the courage to recognize it.
The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.


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