After co-hosting the Women of KS-04 Town Hall and Panel Discussion with the amazing Representative Gail Finney, I thought I would take a moment of quiet reflection to hash through what I heard from Gail and the panelists.
They illuminated the troubling experiences they face, from wage discrimination to an almost daily bombardment of unwanted attention and harassment. Of course, each woman represents an unique experience, each has lived a life all her own, but their stories intersect. Their issues are intertwined with all women of this nation who have been discriminated against in wages or due to pregnancy, been affected by poverty, been the victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, have had their reproductive healthcare attacked, have been abused through human trafficking, or have been unfairly mistreated and/or misrepresented by our police departments and the judicial system thus resulting in a skyrocketing female incarceration rate.
It seems dire. And honestly, it is dire, especially under the current administration, which just means we need to be even more vigilant. But for all the problems women face, they are making strides. Women are rising up, speaking out, empowering one another. They are beating against the glass ceiling, opening up cracks that one day, someday soon, will bring the whole damn thing crashing down.
And men should be stepping forward as allies. Not every man engages in discrimination or harassment or assault. Not every man holds tight to patriarchy. Not every man believes “boys will be boys” is a valid excuse for misogynistic behavior. But not every man speaks out against it either. Guys, our silence is complicity. It’s past time to speak up. We should be shouting our support of women from the rooftops and we should keep shouting it until equality is achieved.
We can no longer be bystanders watching from the sidelines as women courageously fight for the rights and the equality long denied them by our society. So, we must say something when we see something. We must police ourselves. We must bring about an end to jock culture, rape culture and good ol’ boys clubs.
I think Robert Lipsyte said it correctly in his recent article published in The Nation. He said, “(t)he real job, the hard job, for all of us male bystanders, isn’t to rescue women but to rescue other men from their own worst behavior and so prevent abuse in the first place, be it by a heroic and possibly dangerous personal intervention or the more difficult political mission of, say, passing an Equal Rights Amendment.”
The E.R.A. -- “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Just 24 words with the potential to massively impact the future of every woman, child and man in this nation. This is what equality sounds like. This is what I am fighting for.