As if there is nothing else in the world going on, it’s clear that women in the US (and really beyond) are under attack. I wrote recently about this, both here in this space as well as in my monthly column for the Portland Phoenix. As the days go by, it’s clear that women are really feeling the heat. Writing about women’s issues in the larger scope is sometimes hard as a Black woman in the United States since so many times, it seems as if the issues that affect women aren’t always inclusive of all women.
One can only wonder why after so many years of what appeared to be progress are women back to square one and having to fight for control over our bodies. Have we gotten complacent? Or is it the fact that even as women we have never had consensus about our bodies?
This is a hard thing to write but frankly I can’t help thinking that while on the surface it is men leading the charge to control our bodies, the fact is there are many women who judge other women when it comes to our bodies. It’s hard to admit but sometimes as women we can be harder on each other than men. I suppose the reason we notice men’s judgment is because they still hold much of the power.
From the seemingly superficial such as hair, Viola Davis, a Black actress who was nominated for an Oscar this year showed up at the Oscars sporting her natural textured hair and within the Black community (primarily Black women) a hailstorm was set off. Anyone familiar with Black culture knows hair is not simply hair, yet in the past decade it has become more acceptable for Black women to wear their natural textured hair but apparently not for a crowd of millions. Instead many chose to denigrate Ms. Davis….why?
Moving on, as the activism of breastfeeding supporters has pushed breastfeeding into the mainstream and attempted to normalize what should have already been the norm. Too often it is other women that will criticize another woman for breastfeeding in public. In the three and a half years I nursed my daughter, the only criticism I ever received was from other women.
Lastly while men such as the vile Rush Limbaugh will use slurs to denigrate women as he did with Sandra Fluke, the fact is all too often women will judge another woman they perceive as being sexually promiscuous. I think back to my youth and the worst thing a young woman could be called was a slut, yet it hurt doubly if another young woman uttered those words.
In some ways I wonder if women have been brainwashed by our patriarchal society and the fact is too many of us are still operating under that brainwashing. Men like Rick Santorum and others who would happily take us back to the days when we were barefoot and pregnant tend to be married, why the hell aren’t their wives, sisters, mothers and other women in their lives telling them to shut the hell up? I know if my husband was out there loudly trying to take away women’s bodily autonomy in any fashion, he would not come home at night to a happy woman. Furthermore I would loudly tell all that I did not support him.
Seriously though just because we are all women does not mean we all have to think the same, sort of how as a Black person I don’t expect immediate solidarity with other Blacks but there are certain things that affect us all and as women it’s in our best interest to protect not only our rights but the rights of our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and all women we care for; not just now but for the future.