I just spent the past half-hour crying over my kitchen sink. Why? Because my seventeen year old son asked me, “Mom, why are the women marching?”
I wept, first, because he had to ask this question. Secondly, I wept because the best I could come up with was a muddled explanation of reproductive rights.
As the weeping gave way to rage, I understood, and then took the time to articulate to my kind, loving, compassionate, son who naturally thinks in terms of fairness and who is internally motivate to seek out justice, why the women were marching.
Here is what I said:
Son, women are marching because of a culture that does not value a woman’s worth.
- We are not valued in our role as mothers, caregivers, caretakers, nurturers, and providers of what our family needs to be compassionate, loving, caring members of our society.
- We are not valued for our desire to have a safe place to raise our children, to have food on our table, a roof over our head, resources to clothe our family, a quality education for our children and access to affordable and quality healthcare.
- We are not valued for not wanting to send our sons and daughters off to war and for wanting to live in a world where war is the exception, not the rule.
- We are not valued for wanting a culture where people are supported in finding meaning and purpose in their lives and for a place where our children might be given these opportunities.
- We are not valued for thinking that perhaps we should be valued for our role as mothers and for wanting meaningful work beyond motherhood. We are not valued for thinking we should be compensated the same way men are for equivalent work.
- We are not valued for believing that motherhood should be a choice and for desiring safe, cost-effective means through which this choice can be made, in the same way that men are given the freedom to choose to perform sexually well into their 90’s.
- We are not valued for wanting the same attention for our own healthcare issues as our male counterparts are receiving.
- We are not valued for wanting a planet that is safe – where our water, air, and the very earth we live on is not raped and pillaged of its valuable and irreplaceable resources all for the sake of selfishness and greed.
- We are not valued for wanting our food to be free of poisons and other toxins.
- We are not valued for wanting to walk about our cities freely, for wanting to go into public places and not be worried about whether we will be cat-called, accosted or raped.
- We are not valued for thinking that rape is rape and a punishable offense regardless of the guilty party’s position in the local sports community or because of his economic privilege.
- We are not valued for believing that every size, shape and form of our human packaging is holy and sacred and we are not valued for believing that the media has done a horrible disservice to women’s self-esteem and for being incensed at a culture that supports body shaming.
- We are not valued for thinking that the sexualizing of women is wrong – that women only have value as sex objects and for the way in which they can bring pleasure to men.
- We are not valued for our wants, our desires and our needs as women and as human beings. For 5000+ years we have had to fight for what is right – the right to learn how to read and write, the right to an education, the right to vote, the right to our bodies, the right to feel safe, the right to meaningful work…..the same rights that are assumed for our men.
- We are not valued for speaking our truth or for naming and claiming our needs.
- We are not valued when we try to set boundaries around our needs and wants; instead, we are called “a bitch.”
- We are not valued for what we think, believe, know, hope for.
- We are not valued for our intuitive inner knowing.
- We are not valued for our gifts in cooperation and collaboration.
- We are not valued for our ability to bring people together and to negotiate conflict.
I then offered my son a little history lesson:
For the 5000+ years since the peaceful, egalitarian cultures of our ancient ancestors were decimated by the fearful, warring hordes, women have languished under the fear, power and control of the ruling culture, and our men have suffered along with them.
I went on to explain that it was not only for women that we are marching, we are also marching for our men.
We are marching for those, like my son, who have a deep love and respect for women. Who see value in all that women have to contribute to our world. Who believe women should have a voice and that their needs should be valued as equal to that of men. Who want to treat the women in their lives with kindness and who want to provide a safe world in which these women can survive and thrive. These are the men who know that “if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” and who understand all the good they receive when the women in their lives are safe, happy, fulfilled and content.
Finally, I shared with my son all the material ways in which his life has been negatively impacted because of all the above mentioned, and how his life will continue to be negatively affected if something doesn’t change – SOON!
I’m happy to say, he got it. I only wish the rest of the world would do the same.
And now, I’m weeping again.