Here’s what I would’ve said at the local Women’s March (or “Sister March”—pick your terminology) earlier today, if I’d thought of it at the time:
I’m here because I shouldn’t have to be here. This is dumb. Not this—the march and protest. This—the fact that we need to do this. I thought we’d settled decades ago that women are people too, and the problem was that we hadn’t quite fixed society to actually reflect that understanding. Yes, there’s still much to be done for women’s equality, but I’m sad/mad/frustrated/confused that we have to keep relitigating the “women deserve equal rights” part of this. I thought we were ready to move on to establishing that non-whites are people, and that the disabled are people, and that non-straights are people. But apparently we were fools for thinking that once society had changed, we could just consider that the new baseline to work from.
I’m here because I hear women and girls say, with all sincerity, “I’m not a feminist; I believe in equal rights for women”. Because apparently the reactionary forces in our society have successfully convinced a generation of women that “feminism”=“hates men and wants them eliminated from the gene pool” or some such ridiculousness.
I’m here because, apparently with the exception of Teen Vogue, magazines that want to target girls or women continue to send the message that appearance and sex appeal and not threatening men are the most important things—except when they’re the only thing. I’m here because Target receives threats for having the temerity to suggest that they won’t dictate which toys are for boys or for girls, and because Lego thinks that the only way to get little girls to play with their toys is by putting in “minidolls” with curves instead of blocky minifigs—and because apparently enough parents agree with them that it worked.
I’m here because we teach girls that they need to avoid certain clothes and places for their own safety—and even when we agree that’s not fair, we still say “just in case”. I’m here because we tell girls to cover up instead of telling boys to focus on their schoolwork. Because we tell girls to avoid rape instead of telling boys not to rape.
I’m here because changing the gender on job applications and résumés still matters. And a man who not only has no government or public service experience but has a proven track record of doing a lousy job at the one thing he has done with his life can get almost as many votes as a woman with three decades of government experience and public service and a track record that is better than most male candidates for the same position in the last 50 years.
I’m here because if I almost walk into a woman because I’m not paying attention, she apologizes.
I’m here because in a room full of women (plus me) where even the boss is a woman, I get heard when I repeat something that 2 women just said—but neither of them was heard. Unless I say, “I don’t deserve the credit for that—Susan said it”, and then nobody hears me.
I’m here because apparently a girl can be too young and immature to decide to get an abortion, but be plenty old enough to be a parent. I’m here because there are laws that require a doctor to lie to a woman who is considering an abortion.
I’m here because “resting bitch face” and “thigh gap” are things that women have to worry about. And because so many men and women don’t even question this.
I’m here because I once overheard a pair of college-age women discussing the fact that girls “can’t” make vocal sound-effects—and it apparently never occurred to either of them to simply try it and discover they were wrong. I’m here because some people still think that girls and women aren’t interested in videogames (or roleplaying games—depends ho you ask) and are literally incapable of designing them.
I’m here because it took me no time at all to come up with this list—these are just the easy, ubiquitous problems off the top of me head. The only hard part was typing as fast as I thought of them.
So I’m back to where I started: I’m here because I shouldn’t have to be. Women are people, too, and the fact that we even need to say that in the 21st century is dumb.
p.s.: I’m sure I forgot many issues as or more important than my list. I’m not claiming these are the most important, or even the most important to me—and I’m certainly not claiming that these are the only reasons. These are literally just the first few that came to mind and which I felt I could sum up in a pithy sentence.