As an advocate for women’s equality and exposing the patriarchal, misogynistic culture, I’m a proud feminist. I wish we could find another brand, because feminism is often used as a pejorative term to marginalize outspoken women seeking equal status. You know, the women who abhor the “barefoot and pregnant” marginalization that began to circulate and become part of the pop lexicon after World War II.
There’s no logic in this, because hundreds of thousands of “Rosie the Riveters” took manufacturing jobs to build the machines of war due to a shortage of male workers. When male soldiers returned home, women were sent home to stay in their place and men took those jobs at higher wages. Nothing has changed as women are still fighting for equal pay. In movie theaters, women were portrayed as inferior sex objects and physical abuse on screen was seen as acceptable behavior. I love classic movies, but they’re sometimes hard to watch. We’ve made progress, but how much?
Please indulge my sidetrack for a moment. I’m going to get to the heart of this post, but I first want to share some personal background information with you. Hopefully, it will lend credibility to what I have to say about this deeply polarizing issue. I’m not simply an idealist or academic observer, though I’m both; I’m part of the picture.
My mother became pregnant with me when she was barely 17 years old and a junior in high school, which she couldn’t finish and take care of me at the same time. Abortion was illegal, so she had no other option. She was forced to marry an older man she didn’t love and who saw her as another conquest to brag about to his friends.
My first four years of life were spent living in the cramped converted attic of my paternal grandparent’s farm home. We had the “luxuries” of an air-conditioning window unit, a kerosene heater and a black and white TV with three channels and rabbit ears. My strong-willed, highly intelligent mother found good employment working as a sales associate in a large department store. She did well there and managed to balance her work schedule with parenting.
In a man’s world of women as sex objects, her young Elizabeth Taylor resemblance didn’t hurt. Wow, she was beautiful. I loved gazing at her sterling silver framed, studio-taken portrait. Her whole life she was a bad-ass force to be reckoned with, ahead of her time, and she gave me the confidence and the courage to be the bad-ass, don’t-give-me-your-bulls**t woman I am today. Oh, how I admire her. My partner for life and I took care of her in our home the final six months of her life after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
The tragedy of the unplanned pregnancy and forced marriage created constant tension in the home, an unhealthy environment for children, and a divorce that divided the family. It affected me emotionally for the rest of my life. My psychiatrist, meds and therapist I see weekly keep me from going over the cliff. I don’t mind sharing that. When you start life as an accident and you were made to feel it, your self-esteem isn’t so great, no matter how you try to fake it.
As an accident, I was a nuisance to my father. This is a violent event my mother shared with me when I was older, and when I confronted my father much later in life, he admitted it. I had a leading part in my elementary school play. My father was supposed to attend with my mother. He didn’t show up. He was busy cheating with another woman he was having an affair with at the time. When my mother expressed her anger that he didn’t show up, he pulled a knife, put it to her throat, and threatened to kill her if she ever challenged him like that again. Why she didn’t leave him right then I can’t explain here.
When I became an adult, my biological father would send me birthday cards with this insensitive message: “I had fun making you.” He thought I’d find humor in that? I’m merely an object of his five seconds of pleasure? What the hell? Everybody thought he was a great guy, even my younger siblings, but I knew his darker side. I didn’t respect him, but we reconciled near the end of his life. In private he expressed remorse to me over how things unfolded for the family. I spent a pleasant father’s day alone with him this past July. He committed suicide with a gun to his chest on August 13, 2017. What a messed up world we live in.
I can’t blame all of this on one unplanned pregnancy. I know that. And there are probably many unplanned pregnancies with a happier outcome. I hope so. But this gets real, girls. In my early thirties, a best friend had an unplanned pregnancy. She came to me for advice. It was early in the term, and I encouraged her to have an abortion. The circumstances were very similar to my own involuntary entry into this world. I was working in politics in Washington, D.C. at the time, and I caught a flight to meet her at Planned Parenthood in her city in time to offer my love and support that she was making the right decision. She was so scared. It was our secret, and it has remained our secret.
So here’s the thing with me. I wouldn’t be living the life of an advocate for social justice and equality if my mother hadn’t chosen life. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be miserable dealing with mental illness and the burden of doing something meaningful with my life. Maybe pain is God’s plan for those who have a purpose to expose the subtleties of evil and promote love and empathy for marginalized people in our sexist, racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic, and bigoted world.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t have a Messiah complex. I’m just a woman, and I’m so flawed and human who should listen to me? Before I write anything, I always ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. I see myself as an instrument of truth, not a great thinker with a way with words. I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I write. I just ask for open-mindedness, not an argument.
This weekend, starting Friday, January 19, the Women’s March and Pro-life March will begin and continue through the weekend all over the world. 500,000 feminist women marched in Washington, DC on January 21 last year. Some five million women around the world are expected to march this weekend. The timing is around the 45th anniversary of the “Roe versus Wade” Supreme Court decision to not make a woman’s reproductive choice a legal matter. As of today, choice is the law of the land. Trump’s puppet masters want to change that.
The current administration’s control by the fundamentalist “Christian” cartel with their quid pro quo aggressively seek a repeal of Roe versus Wade. Pro-life marches are scheduled for Friday, January 19 beneath the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. The adulterous, misogynistic president of the U.S.A who bragged about grabbing women’s ‘pussies’ and had illicit sex with a porn star will address the so-called “Christian” women pro-life marchers. Are you kidding me? Is this the moral insanity we have sunken to? Sadly, yes.
One thing that pro-life women and pro-choice feminists like me agree on is that women must not be treated as sex objects, should be given equal pay for the same job, and be given the legal support to be moms and have a career and a healthcare system that reflects that inclusive societal value. Let’s coalesce around that commonality and be a unified voice for that. Some of my feminist friends hate this compromise and think it’s antithetical to the movement. Some want to exclude pro-life, intersectional feminists from the movement.
As progressive pro-choice feminists, let’s agree to disagree with pro-life feminist women and unite around the issues we have in common. Women’s equality will make our world a better place in so many ways. Reproductive choice is the right of every woman. The millions of women marching all over the world this weekend will make this abundantly clear. Let’s not fall victim to the divide-and-conquer strategy of white male dominated, fundamentalist religious oppression.
Let’s go girls!