Six months ago (well on July 21st six months ago) the Women's March took place around the world. Since then, it's been - for lack of a better phrase - a shit show trying to keep up with everything that's happened. If you're like me and struggle with tracking it all, I recommend subscribing to the newsletter What The Fuck Just Happened Today? or checking out summaries like this one from Refinery29. It can definitely become overwhelming, so I also like to balance it with photos of newborn alpacas and the Food Network.
Some things, however, might be overwhelming but are too important to overlook. Like today, for example, we find the Senate beginning to debate, amend, and ultimately vote on the future of Obamacare - which if repealed would leave 32 million more Americans uninsured in a decade. This is terrifying and effects all of us whether or not we want to believe it. And yet, so many people are just watching it happen without taking any action forward. Seriously? Where are all the women from the march?
I get though. A lot of us don't want to deal with it. We're tired. We're working. We're frustrated. We've done our part. The phone calls to our representatives aren't doing anything we can see. It's out of our hands. But (imagine I'm doing a great Dwight Schrute impression), I say "FALSE." The future is entirely in our hands. We just have to keep fighting. Look at someone like Elizabeth Warren, who was out on the streets making her voice heard today. She's telling us to be strong and loud. And if she can keep it pushing after six months of this shit show, then so can we.
Women have been leading the charge against the Trump administration since his first day in office when more than half a million protestors in the Women's March showed up on his doorstep. And now, women make up a whopping 86 percent of the calls to Congressional representatives against the Trump administration's goals. It's not just the future that's female, it's the resistance as well.
Trust me, I know inspiration might be hard to find sometimes. I've been struggling a lot to keep the fight in me alive. It's incredibly easy to get weighed down by everything going on. But you know what? I've heard rumor that angry women are uniting on November 6th, 2018 at voting booths all across the country. That may seem so far away from where we are today, but between now and then let's try our best to take care of ourselves and one another. Let's keep the calls, chants, and conversations going. To all you warriors out there, let's keep the fight alive.
This past Fourth of July, I painted my nails red and wore a Rosie the Riveter style blue bandana with a red stripped shirt. I represented the holiday as I have in years before, but something about this one felt different to me. There was a sense of sadness looming over it and I couldn't help but feel pain as I recited the Hamilton lyrics in my head over and over again: "But we’ll never be truly free, until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me." I kept thinking about our nation's history and where we are today. And you know what? There's a lot to take into account what's wrong with our country. Just take a look at Shaun King's article Here's why the United States is not the best country in the world.
Part of me didn't even want to celebrate Independence Day this year. It felt fake and phony to participate in a day that's primarily focused on BBQ's and songs about our nation's pride, when I was lacking any amount of pride in what this country currently represents. But that part of me that continuously wants to just curl up in a ball and ignore the news, she never wins in a fight. No. The one that wins is the woman in me that refuses to just give up and move to another country. She's the one that stands tall, tries to stay as informed as possible, continues to grow as an individual, treats people with respect, and strives to be the best possible version of herself for her and those around her. She's the one that looks at the young girls she works with and has hope for the future of our country. Yeah, sure, it sucks right now. It's sucked before. It might not get immediately better. We might not all see eye to eye. But there is hope. I have to believe in hope, no matter how naive that might sound coming from a middle class white cis feminist. I have to believe in it because I see the work that so many other people are doing. I see those boycotting the Fourth of July because we took this land away from Native Americans. I see people quoting Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., and Michelle Obama. I see the Women's March planning a protest against the NRA. And I see people like my friend Ana Maria (who I think said it best on Facebook): "Resistance is patriotic, naming historic atrocities is freedom of speech, and protesting against injustice and a government that tries to harm us or others in the name of profit or personal benefit is the American Way."
My love for people like Ana Maria and my country runs deep, because I believe there are those of us working towards achieving greatness. It's tiring and grueling, and we have a long way to go, but if anything, hopefully we'll leave this place a little better for the generations to follow (that is if we don't all die from global warming, a nuclear bomb, or just a giant meteor). Sorry to be bleak. It is hard to drown out my pessimism completely! Best to summarize all of this with (yet again) more Hamilton lyrics: "You will come of age with our young nation. We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you, and you’ll blow us all away. Someday, someday. Yeah, you’ll blow us all away. Someday, someday."
Thank you to those who keep fighting, protesting, marching, walking, writing, and speaking out. You are the ones who fill me with hope that someday we might just be a nation to be proud of.
In May of this year, the Marine Corps released a new recruitment ad aimed towards women. The ad is titled "Battle Up" and came close after the breaking story of the Marines United Scandal (which I briefly touched upon in a blog back in March). Maj. Janine Garner spoke to NPR about the ad and a letter that she and 100 Marine Corps women signed insisting the Corps leaders deal with the issues of sexual assault they have faced:
"We have allowed to thrive and, in some instances, even encouraged a culture where women are devalued, demeaned and their contributions diminished," the letter says.
While I applaud the letter they wrote and understand the thinking behind recruiting more women might benefit the Marine Corps., I don't think it is a solid solution to fixing the issues of harassment these women have been dealing with. Like I said in my blog nolite te bastardes carborundorum: "We say it’s equality, but haven’t we as women been building ourselves up to be equal to men? What have we been doing to help men be equal to us?" We can try to recruit more women for the Marine Corps., in the work force, and behind film sets, but if we are simply trying to gain more power to help eliminate the injustices we've faced, is that really dealing with the problem at hand? We need an ad that is focused on men and women talking about sexual assault and ways to prevent it, not to pretend like it doesn't exist. We need an ad that shows a man standing up for a woman being assaulted. We need an ad that shows a woman standing up for a man being assaulted, because we often forget about that.
Yes, it's good that we're encouraging women to be strong, go after their dreams, and fight for our country - but knowing the current reputation the Marines Corps. has, is that really something we want to encourage our daughters to enlist in? Or do we want to teach our sons to treat these women with respect? Our culture has become so focused on toppling the patriarchy, that we've forgotten what equality actually looks like. It's about raising our sons and daughters with the same moral values. And I fear that if we keep trying to take power away from each other - if we keep trying to bring women into a man's world but not men into a woman's world - that this paradigm shift we've been nearing will topple over itself and chaos among the sexes will ensue (if it hasn't already).
Do I think we need more women in the Marine Corps., the work force, behind film sets, etc.? Yes, obviously, I'm all about women living up to their greatest potential and doing the job they want to do, but I don't think we should ignore the issues men are facing as well (The Mask You Live In and Miss Representation - both part of The Representation Project - are great films to watch and gain more insight on our gender dilemmas). If we start bringing more women into the Marine Corps., without dealing with the deep underlying issues of sexual assault, how are benefitting both parties? We need to clean up the toxic masculinity overpowering our country before we tell women to "Battle Up".
Copyright © 2018 Christine Drew Benjamin | All Rights Reserved