A Message for My (Younger) Sisters
This is awkward and I'm not sure I can say it right.
I was a rebellious adolescent ... and evolved into a somewhat iconoclastic adult. I've always resented and refused to accept the patronizing, the condescending, the "I know what's best for you," the "voice of maturity," whenever I heard it.
I try hard to remain open in my thinking, resilient in my reasoning, accepting of the new, the untried, the adventurous, the novel.
The fact remains, however, that I am 54. I have lived *gasp* a half century and I've seen a lot.
Today I'm fortunate to know a number of young women that I greatly admire -- for their style, their accomplishments, their spirit, their courage, the way they shoulder many and heavy responsibilities.
So it's awkward for me to step up on any kind of soapbox. But I want to warn these young women that I admire so much.
More than thirty years ago, brave women, courageous like you are, stepped up and loudly questioned why the state had the right to refuse a woman the health care of her choice. They asked why in some cases an adult woman had to have her husband's, or even father's, permission to obtain certain types of health care. They showed pictures of women dead in pools of their own blood, dead from desperate self- or criminally- administered abortions.
This is a morally-loaded issue and you may say: I don't behave that way. I will never find myself pregnant and alone, or perhaps in a dangerously abusive relationship, emotionally unstable, perhaps physically ill and unable to care for a child. I will never become pregnant from a rape. I will never become pregnant with a child with defects so severe s/he will be unable to live a full, healthy life.
You may choose to say all life is sacred and I will never have an abortion.
Just know that other women have said that ... before they were faced with horrible circumstances and made a terrible choice they said they would never make. And have compassion, because most, consciously or unconsciously, live in torment from it.
But they live. They now have children that they were able to bring into the world, into good solid environments. They have children they look at, and love, in remembrance of the shadow child they gave up. They're alive because they had the choice.
And more than thirty years ago, it wasn't just about reproductive rights. These women stood up and asked "Why can't we work, if we have the skills?" "Why can't we make a decent living, if we work hard and have the skills?" "We want to help our husbands, share the burden of support for our children -- why should men carry this alone?"
These women were disparaged. As the suffragettes who had met hostility, in the early years of the century when they fought for accessible birth control and women's right to vote, so did these women. There were shouted remarks about bra burners, women-libbers, insinuations about whether they were "real" women, accusations that they were trying to emasculate, divest men of their own rights. There was a lot of ugliness that surrounded these women who stood up and tried to ask why. And the ugliness wasn't just from some men; some women shouted and accused.
But the women who stood up for these health and economic choices -- as did the ones who got us contraception and the vote -- gutted it out and made progress. And it eventually seeped into the consciousness of most American women, that they should be able to make choices for themselves. That they should be able to take responsibility for their own bodies, their own decisions. That they should be able to work, and earn as much as anyone else with the same skills.
But these advances are not permanent and irrevocable.
Even though we're not in Iran, and are not being overtly threatened as women there are -- with a new theocratic president who believes that ankles must once again be covered, the veil must again come down -- we face our own potential return to a near-medieval era.
My warning? Don't be complacent. Don't be comfortable. Don't believe the soothing balm of "Nothing is going to change."
Don't let anything be taken away from you that took other women more than a century to earn.
Today's fragrance: MAC MV3, for its amber-sandalwood-vanilla comfort. Today's book recommendation: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Today's film recommendation (thank you, NST): Vera Drake.