Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Women's Equality Day, and the inequal valuation of women.

Today is Women's Equality Day.

Unlike most holidays, celebrating that which has already happened, it commemorates one past milestone while celebrating a goal that has yet to be achieved.

Betty Friedan

Women of all kinds are making inroads in politics - but they continue to face hatred and fear. The pay gap is slowly narrowing - but it's not gone, and our jobs are not secure. The personal safety of women is better guaranteed - but rape and violence are still daily presences. Women's voices are valued - but also belittled. We speak - but we qualify our words.

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pittman-Hughes

We're making progress, slowly, inch by inch. There are so many things we have done.

Shirley Chisholm

Women can vote, and speak against what they see as wrong. Women can work in whatever field they please. Woman have specific and protected rights over their bodies. Women have a right to property. Women are able to leave violent homes and find shelter. Women can and do hold elected and appointed office. The voices of women are valued in a wide variety of contexts. Women can retain their identities. Women can raise children alone. Women can play sports. Women can demand change.

Kate Bornstein

Are these gains unqualified? No. The rights above are not available to every women - it's always dependent on privilege.

Not all women are devalued equally. All women face sexism, but many women face additional hurdles that intensify threats to the volume of their voices, the safety of their bodies, and the security of their finances.

Julia Serano

Black women face challenges that white women do not. Trans women are subject to threats that cis women never fear. Differently abled women face barriers that women with able privilege skip past. Lesbian women's lifelong partnerships go unrecognized while het women's are encouraged. Intersex women are freaks and sexual women are praised. Too-fat and too-thin women are constructed as disgusting while women with size privilege are normalized and constructed as attractive. Bisexual women have their sexualities fetishized and invalidated while het women's sexualities are normalized. Old women are belittled while young women are seen as the next font of knowledge. Poor women struggle to make a living while rich women theorize.

Gloria Anzaldua

I am speaking from the perspective of my own privileges here, and that doesn't even begin to cover all of them.

Harriet McBryde

And these threats, these challenges, these deprivations, often come from other women.

Germaine Greer

The feminist movement and the fight for women's equality reflects the flaws of the kyriarchy - we, too, are transmisogynistic, we, too, are ableist, we, too, are racist. Feminists participate in erasure, and silencing, and violence.
Alice Walker

Some voices are valued, quoted, and listened to so much more than others'.

Andrea Dworkin

Even when we try not to, even when we specifically work to avoid it, we participate, and reify, and wield our privilege.

bell hooks

We use other women for speed bumps on the road to understanding.

But still - we have done much, and we will do more. We will get better. We will fix our movement, and the world. Not for us, probably, but for our daughters, our granddaughters, our great-granddaughters.

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