When you think of women’s issues, what do you think of? If you’re “in the know” with the National Organization of Women (NOW) you might think of things like economic justice, reproductive rights, and ending violence against women.
What would happen if we stopped thinking of these things as “women’s issues” and started thinking of them as “human issues”? Would we begin to erase the long history of viewing women as less than human? I think that we would. Would we further understand that all our lives are interconnected and what keeps one person down keeps us all down? I think so. Would we finally, finally, realize that many of these issues we talk about and emphatically end with “and it’s just as simple as that!” are actually really nuanced and not simple at all? Good heavens, I sure hope so!
According to the Center for American Progress, as recently as 2015 women were the sole or primary breadwinners in 42% of homes in the United States. If we stopped treating the pay gap like a myth (it’s not) or the fault of women for daring to take time away from work after giving birth (gasp!) and actually treated it like a national economic crisis because that means that 42% of families in the United States are more likely to live in poverty maybe something would actually happen. If we enacted policies that helped families, which shockingly include women, would we see families being lifted out of poverty? Families able to keep a roof over their head, food on the table, and water that isn’t tainted with lead (looking at you, Michigan).
With the way we talk about “these women” and their need to access birth control, you’d think women could spontaneously become pregnant on their own! I’m here to tell you, as delicately as I can, that I definitely had some help becoming pregnant for the third time. I had help the first two times too. It takes a pretty specific set of chromosomes coming together to make a baby and women don’t have them all. What if we treated access to birth control as a right, for both men and women, and education for what works for us as a given? Would things improve in our country? Would our foster system be less crowded? Children living in homes where they are fiercely loved and whose parents can care for them.
Violence against women is a clear indicator of violence against everyone else. If we treated violence against women as a national health crisis, everyone would be better off. Our children would be safer in school, our economy would improve because more women could contribute in financial terms, and other men would be safer from the effects of toxic masculinity.
If you can’t understand that the things affecting women truly affect all of us, pick up a book, talk to a woman (and believe what she says!), and take the time to get yourself woke. Because when it gets right down to it, women are tired of doing the heavy lifting of leading you along the path of knowledge when you could just take yourself.