Make War, Not “Peace”

We’re teaching girls to be quiet and submissive. We’re teaching girls to make themselves as small as possible, to starve themselves out of existence. We’re teaching girls not to take up space. We’re teaching girls to apologize for using their voice. We’re teaching girls that they can’t be leaders. We’re telling them to shut up, sit down, and leave the work to the men.

You can say we’ve made progress, but I don’t see a difference. You know what I see? I see that Donald Trump is making strides towards stripping us of abortion rights. And when I say abortion rights, I mean the right of women to choose what happens to their body. So I see that an unintelligent, irrational, old white man is telling half the population what they are allowed to do with their bodies. I see double standards surrounding sex and a whole lot of stigma. Women who don’t have sex are prudes and women who do have sex are sluts. We have to choose between the lesser of the two evils. I see microaggressions when people speak in class or in conversation with one another. I see a the second of a series of movies premiering on Valentine’s Day about physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. We’re equating violence and oppression with sex and romance. I saw a sign at the Women’s March in New York City that said “I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit” and I think that describes the situation perfectly.

Since 1950 we may have made steps forward, but that doesn’t mean it’s permanent. In fact, I see far more similarities than differences between women’s rights in the 1950’s and women’s rights right now. As one of our interviewees, Ruth Hardy, said, “we may take two steps forward and one step back.” We’ve taken at least one step back very recently and I anticipate that we will take more. Laurie Essig also spoke eloquently to this point, stating that “things don’t necessarily get better. In fact, I think they can get quite a bit worse. History is more circular… I don’t think it’s like, oh we’re in 2017, there’s less sexism. Not necessarily, right?… so I think, as Americans, we have a tendency to be optimistic about the future and we think things are always getting better, but that’s not really true.” So we can’t get complacent. We can’t just assume that things are better than they were twenty years ago, and that twenty years from now they will be better than they are now. We have to work and we have to work hard.

I know it seems like it’s out of our hands, like gender bias is too big of an institution to change. That’s why we start small. We start in our schools and communities. We start in our own personal life. We protest, we organize, we fight back. We speak out alone, we speak out together. We unite and flood the streets of major cities all around the world to reclaim our power. Everyone says “peace begins with me.” Well, change also begins with me. And making change is not peaceful. We need a revolution, not an illusion of peace. We need protests, not denial. We need our voices, not silence.

Anna Buteau

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