Sometimes I feel so naive with my ideas, but I still cling to them as “right.” I’ve been seeing women argue a lot lately, and it tears me into two minds. One on hand, I’m admiring women speaking up for their beliefs and convictions. It has taken me years of therapy to be able to do what some women do naturally, and that is always amazing to me. On the other hand, I want that childish idea of everyone holding hands around the world. I feel like making everyone just kiss and make up. I’m torn between wanting unity for women, and wanting us to stand up for our beliefs also.
In trying to resolve these two issues, I am brainstorming ideas for women to unite and fight. Hilary Clinton once said that you discover what you’re willing to fight for when you fight your friends. I think that’s true. But even when fighting your friends, you are still friends, right?
For example, one of my girlfriends is a Christian. I am not, but I used to be in a radical, strict church. We went out a couple weeks ago and discussed the author Richard Dawkins. I did not agree with my friend’s personal beliefs about how the world came to be, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t value her friendship and herself as a person. We still had a great time, heard a good band, ate some good food, and put religion aside. She knows I don’t believe the way she does, and neither of us tried to force our beliefs on the other.
Another example: I have a friend who does illegal drugs. I don’t do drugs, personally, for several reasons. I have had people who abused drugs in my life, and have felt the negative effects of such activity. However, this does not mean I begrudge my friend her private activity in her own home. She works, has healthy relationships, has amazing kids who love her, is productive in society and is a generally fantastic person. She also does drugs. I don’t think that this is a problem, even though I do not personally do the same in my life. We can still watch a movie or see a play and have a great time together. We can still work together for a common goal.
I know there are “hot topics” that everyone gets invested and passionate about. I value passion and dedication, as that is what led me to create W.E.L.L. (as well as many other lovely things in my life). Topics like abortion get everyone all up in arms, attacking and defending as if we were in battle. I understand the emotional value and connection that certain people feel towards certain topics, but I hate to see us use that against each other as weapons.
I have the (possibly unrealistic) idea of women working together to take care of women. Women stepping up to fight against rape, against the glass ceiling, against the double standards, against injustice, and making the changes that need to be made. I dream of this reality, and I work towards it every day with the baby steps W.E.L.L. is making.
Still, personal beliefs and culture has to be taken into account. To use a distant example, let’s talk about female circumcision. This practice takes place in various parts of the world, and is known to be painful and extremely debilitating for future sexual pleasure. Still, there are women who have had it done and fight to uphold this tradition. Who am I to tell them that they are wrong? Do I think its right to cut a girl’s clit out? No. Not even slightly. There is no part of me at all thinks it is ok. Am I going to go fight a woman who wants to have it done? No. Would I fight for a girl who does not want it done? Yes, I believe I would do that.
When it comes to things like abortion, labels like “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” trip us up. It’s not about life-everyone wants life, and it’s not about choice, which is also something everyone wants. It’s about having an abortion or not having an abortion. I want to see people chose for themselves, and then back off for others to choose for themselves. In this environment, men would not be in the abortion debate at all. As a man would never need to have an abortion, he would never need to voice his views on the matter.
I know I’ve already upset someone (in all probability) with these mild views. Another problem with abortion is that for some people, in involves religion, which opens a bigger can of worms. If someone feels it is a religious issue, and because they are a member of such a religion, they may view that as their invitation for abortion commentary. I understand that, as I was in a church that taught such things. My question then is why? Even when I was in my former church-maybe more so then than now-I hated having people try to convert me. I knew who I was, what I believed, and I did not want to hear otherwise. I’m assuming many others feel that way now. And if someone does not feel that way, they can take it upon themselves to go out and seek answers. They don’t need to be cornered and talked into a set of beliefs any more than a person would want a sexual act forced upon them. Force is not okay with me. Don’t force your words, your body, your actions, etc, onto me.
I want us to have the opportunity to choose. No one should be afraid of what they believe, or to act on what they need or want. No one should be afraid of what their neighbor believes, either. Your beliefs do not need to dictate mine any more than mine should dictate yours. We are each our own person, each capable of choosing and believing what we wish.
My question now is, can we have a world where we believe our own hearts and minds, and still work with others who disagree? Can we be big enough to rise above our differences, and work together as a force of women, making changes for the betterment of all of us? And if we can’t, what do we change so that we can?