Some news cannot be ignored. The Huffington Post filed a story on Christmas Eve with the screaming headline: “2014 A Bad Year for Women But A Good Year For Feminism.” Um, what?
Before we explore pitting women against feminism and debating who’s worse off, can we consider some real problems? In Saudi Arabia, the king’s advisory council is considering lifting the government’s ban on women driving cars. Yes, driving cars, not whining in streets that someone’s offended by a wolf whistle.
Sounds like good news, perhaps even progress? Not so fast. The government is considering allowing a woman to drive only if she is over 30, has permission from a male relative and is off the road by 8 p.m. Oh, and, she cannot wear makeup while she races about willy nilly.
Muslim clerics are up in arms, citing the “licentiousness,” that will ensue if women are allowed behind the wheel. Just for good measure, I looked up licentiousness and as I suspect it means, “sexually immoral or offensive.” Meaning, basically, if you give women this right, who knows what will happen, but whatever it is will be sexual and bothersome. What’s next? They start demanding orgasms?
No laughing matter, two women are currently in prison because they dared drive a car. And what court will they stand before? Anti-terrorism. How terrified of female power must a country be to charge women in anti-terrorism court because they drive a car? And here in America, we have the gall to portray ourselves as second-class citizens?
As for Huffpost’s headline, the glaring citation for setting back feminism is the Hobby Lobby ruling in which the reporter cites, “limiting birth control access.” Access to birth control is not limited. Someone else paying for it is limited, yes. But what of the self employed? What of those past the age limit? An entire lifetime of birth control was paid as part of our family budget. For a large portion of that time, it was not covered by my top tier health insurance. I was grateful that it was available. That is access.
It simply is not true that birth control is inaccessible, even to the poor. That for some it is free, is a bonus. But to label it inaccessible does nothing but inflame.
Let’s consider some women in 2014, a year so terrible for us. Shonda Rhimes became about the biggest badass in network television and did it installing her children’s day care across the hall from her office, creating the strongest females characters ever seen and being a minority of more than just the female variety.
Emma Sulkowicz carried her mattress across Columbia University in protest of her rapist not being expelled. Not only did she make her point; others at Columbia started helping her “carry the weight” as did colleges all over the United States. She, and they, have that right.
Malala Yousafzai, 17, won the Nobel Peace Prize. She not only is the youngest recipient but perhaps the most grateful and gracious we’ve seen in a long while. She was shot in the head for pursuing an education and continues now to work for the cause.
We embraced little Mo’ne Davis gracing the cover of the Sports Illustrated Kids edition after killing it in the Little League series. Girl’s got not just a killer arm but a killer future as well.
Are there more steps along the journey? Of course. But the next time you put on your makeup, grab your keys, get in the car and drive to Target without asking anyone’s permission, think again about what women’s rights really means.