I’ve just seen a rant on FB that has been posted by a woman and “liked” by more than a dozen other women. These are Canadian women agreeing with a sentiment that because women in so many other countries of the world do not have the same rights or privileges as North American women do, we “lucky ones” should not be activists, should not be protesting inequality or injustice, should not be “whining.” Marching in support of women’s rights and all human rights is, apparently, “whining.”
When Canadian, American and British women began fighting for the vote, they also were told to shut up and stay home. They weren’t just told this by men; there were women who had the same attitude. Some of the suffragettes were actually beaten up in the street while peacefully protesting injustice and demanding the vote. Many were imprisoned. It was a fight and it was the courageous women who fought it; not the ones who stayed home and criticized them and told them to keep their mouths shut and count their blessings because they were better off than many women elsewhere.
These so-called “modern” women (“We are free! We are strong! We are independent! We take responsibility for ourselves!”) take for granted the legal rights that women in North America now have. They haven’t looked just a few decades back to where we not only didn’t have the vote, but we and our children were the legal property of men who, if they were our husbands, had the legal right to rape and beat us. We didn’t even have the right to go into a bar for a drink.
Women still don’t earn the same pay as men for the same work, or have equal opportunities for advancement on the job front. Women are still overwhelmingly killed by male spouses (the last report I saw stated that in Canada, one women is killed every six days by her domestic partner). Sexual assault remains a huge problem, not just in the streets but in private and even in the workplace. And women in many North American locations still have to fight for the legal right to make their own choices about what to do with their own bodies, now, in 2017!
If you are a woman who criticizes women who are publicly standing up for women’s rights and all human rights; if you believe that it’s only the “pampered, lucky” women who have the time, money, freedom and health to do so; if you believe that because we here in North America have it “so good” in comparison to women in other places in the world then we are just “whining” when we say that even here, things are not yet perfect and more work needs to be done; then your disdain for women of action is obvious. You are not strong, free, responsible or independent. You are blindly, desperately avoiding reality. Stay home on your comfy couch if you feel self-righteously safe and superior there. No one is forcing YOU to go out and publicly stand up for yourself or your brothers and sisters, many of whom ARE willing to speak up for the rights of all.
Fortunately, as we saw around the world on January 21, multitudes of men and women everywhere don’t see things as you do.