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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

The marching blowhards are creating an ill wind for legitimate feminism

Ismat Ahmed, center, shouts during an International Womens' Strike rally Wednesday in Square Park in New York. (AP photo)
Ismat Ahmed, center, shouts during an International Womens' Strike rally Wednesday in Square Park in New York. (AP photo)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, March 09, 2017 05:20 am
It was more windy than usual Wednesday, which also just happened to be International Women's Strike Day — an event in which women were encouraged to prove they're just as tough, important, responsible and worthy of respect as men by (according to the Associated Press) "skipping work, avoiding shopping and attending rallies." And, really, who can't respect a woman strong enough to avoid the mall for 24 hours? Unless, of course, you're the parent of a student in one of several school districts nationwide forced to close for lack of teachers who is forced to find emergency day care. Those same children were also denied a day of instruction for the sake of progressive politics, but they probably got a more useful education watching their teachers on the picket lines than they would have listening to them in the classroom.

According to the organization's Web site, Wednesday's strike was intended as "the beginning of a new international feminist movement that organizes resistance not just against Trump and his misogynist policies, but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the decades long economic inequality, racial and sexual violence, and imperial wars abroad." The event was "organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women."

With a mission statement like that, you'd expect the goals to reflect every conceivable grievance. And so they do: an end to gender violence (which includes immigration raids and policies that create poverty); labor rights ($15 minimum wage, including for caregivers, free universal child care, paid maternity leave, sick leave, paid family leave); "full social provisioning" (a "demand that the welfare system work to support our lives rather than shame us when we access such rights"); "anti-racist and anti-imperialist feminism ("We want to dismantle all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine");  environmental justice for all ("The emancipation of women and the emancipation of the planet must go hand in hand."; and, of course, "reproductive justice for all."

In other words, "free abortion without conditions and affordable healthcare for all, irrespective of income, race or citizenship status."

But even though Wednesday's strikes were advertised as representing all women, the demands for total dependence on an all-powerful and benevolent state would seem to be at odds with the stated goal of female strength and empowerment. Nor, obviously, do such demands appeal to all women — including my wife and her female boss, who demonstrated their strength and importance by going to work and meeting their obligations to people who depend upon and appreciate their knowledge and expertise.

Therein lurks the cynical irony of today's American feminist movement. It claims to represent all women but doesn't (pro-life women were excluded from rallies following Trump's inauguration, for example); and seeks victim status all the more aggressively as old barriers fall.

With the coming of the April 15 federal income tax deadline we soon will be subjected to another round of hand-wringing about how American women earn about 80 percent of what men make. But even though gender-based income discrimination has been a federal crime since 1963, sexism will be blamed despite numerous studies indicating most of the difference is due to the choices women themselves make, including type of occupation, hours worked and time off to raise children.

Women comprise more than half the population and could elect anyone they want — if they really all did think alike, that is. But it was Hillary Clinton, of all people, who got it exactly right in 2012 when she gave this advice to women struggling to balance work and family: "You live in a time when there are endless choices . . . I can't stand whining."

It is true that women truly are oppressed and brutalized in certain parts of the world — including countries and cultures that seem to get a pass from people intent on bashing Trump for much less. Attempting to paint America with the same broad brush only undermines feminism's legitimacy in the eyes of Americans who realize that, no matter the cause, struggles and disappointment come to us all and cannot be overcome by walking off the job and into the streets.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.



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