Wednesday, June 15, 2016

With or Without Heels: steps in feminism

Though this post is primarily directed at my younger sister, the outlook on early examples of equality, specifically, gender equality, is still very relevant and I hope many of you will find it interesting. I do.

The first book I remember you loving is The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. You've never been much of a reader, in fact, you always say you hate reading, but love learning. You loved this book, though. I'd like to inspire you to do a little bit more reading by providing you with some of my learning about topics we both love: feminism and equality.

I was studying the Enlightenment and periods of revolution in the 18th Century and was very frustrated by the lack of women mentioned. With some further research I stumbled on the life of Olympe de Gouge, political activist, feminist, and abolitionist. She wrote plays about and against slavery and various political pamphlets. Initially in support of the French Revolution, she became disenchanted when equal rights weren't given to women and she was eventually killed by the revolutionists for speaking out against their policies. She was part of feminist groups, wanted women to have an equal say in marriage, and had a huge influence on people who knew her. My favorite thing about her is that when the French National Constituents Assembly put forth the document The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, she responded by writing The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen. She wrote of how women were able to be punished the same as men, yet had not the same rights by stating, "Women have the right to mount the scaffold, they must also have the right to mount the speaker's rostrum." You should read it. 

She reminded me of you, in a way. We were talking the other day about how neither of us likes to share our opinions, especially online, because we don't like conflict, but I've seen you post feminist memes and quotations with vehemence, so why not with things that aren't so safe?  I think we should try to be a little braver. I was proud of you for speaking your mind after the recent attack in Orlando. You are right. People shouldn't jump to defending their right to have guns when people are still in shock and suffering. No one is trying to take guns away, and let's not talk about it while people are just reacting to something terrible. Compassion should be our first move. I think de Gouge is a good example because she never backed down, and as a woman in that time period it was risky and not the norm. I'm not saying we should endanger ourselves (I certainly don't want to go to the guillotine, even if it is just figuratively), but wanting to honestly support a cause can only be done if we are willing to talk about it. I propose that when something is really important to us, we speak out, and if we're afraid, we'll speak out together. People will argue and disagree no matter what we do, especially on social media, so we may as well be honest with ourselves and authentic in our worlds.

What do you think? Is it worth it?

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