Ponderings of an Equalist

28 Jan

As the title implies, this is not a cohesive article but a relatively unfiltered collection of my personal pondering about topics currently in the public spotlight. This includes:

  • Suffragist: Feminist vs. Equalist
  • Equality in Theory and Practice
  • The Great Political Divide of Today
  • The Women’s March (2017)
  • 2017 “Gender Roles”

I  am NOT a feminist. I am an Equalist. Let me explain.

Suffragist: Feminist vs. Equalist
The suffragists were individuals who sought the right to vote for women. The giant organization was the National American Woman Suffrage Association led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which sought the vote and equal legal rights for women and African-Americans. Anthony and Stanton would seek labor protections for children and women paving the way for the labor protection of men; however the strategy painted women as physically weaker. The term feminist is associated with this movement.

Alice Paul was also a suffragist who protested at the White House. After Paul and her associates were arrested, these women became the iron-jawed angels. These women did not employ the same strategy to demand equal opportunities, liberties, and vote but demanded it NOW for all people. These women were fore-runners for the ‘equalist’.

While a student at Arizona State University, I was in a Women’s U.S. History course. The professor asked us to raise our hand until she made a statement that you disagreed with and then to put your hand down. She begun with basically uncontested statements and then more heatedly debated statements, including:

  • Women should be able to vote.
  • Women should be able to serve in combat roles and situations.
  • If men must register for the draft, women should too.

Afterwards, I was the only remaining person with a hand up. She said “congratulations, you are the only true equalist here.” This course was the first time I had heard of Alice Paul, the iron-jawed angels, and equalists.

An equalist, in my opinion, is one who demands the equal legal rights, liberties, responsibilities (for good and ill) and protections of all people despite gender, gender identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, or any category used to categorize people.

Equality in Theory and Practice
Despite equal opportunities, liberties, and protections according to the legal code, many populations are not able to fully live into this ‘equality’ in their daily life, both personal and professional. How so?

  • Women do not receive equal-pay-for-equal work when compared to men.
  • Women of color receive even less compensation than their caucasian counter-parts.
  • Women’s Health Research receives less federal funding than Men’s Health Research.
  • And more.

The Great Political Divide
If you watch or read my sermon summaries, you may note a reoccurring theme: “difference does not necessarily have to equal division”. Unfortunately, our world and its people are determined and hell-bent to divide persons into easily identified boxes.

This week, I was in a conversation while sporting an Arizona State sweatshirt.
Other Person: “I don’t even know how to talk to people from red states”.
Me: “I am from Arizona.”
Other Person: “Did you vote for Trump? Those are the people I am talking about.”

The challenge is that I do not fit into prepared boxes. Boxes are confining and defining.
In Arizona, I am a “liberal”.
In western Washington, I am a “conservative”.
According to political ideology tests, I am a “moderate” near dead-center.

I have loved ones on all points of the political spectrum causing my Facebook feed to appear schizophrenic. Unfortunately, I bear witness to people on both extremes posting disrespectful, distasteful, and hate-filled attacks against the “other”. I cannot condone and I struggle to “tolerant” such posts.

The United States has deep wounds and an enormous divide. We, as Americans, are called to seek genuine understanding, honest conversation, and significant self-reflection rooted in respect, class, and love in order to heal these wounds and to reconcile the divide. How?

  • Recognize that our complaints of the “opposing” can also be spoken of us, especially when calling another “intolerant” (for example, intolerant of the intolerant);
  • Recognize that we can not judge the whole by the actions of a few;
  • Do not start with assumptions;
  • Do not judge others by media-encouraged misjudgments; and
  • Do your own research and question each article/post.

If you assume that Trump voters are uneducated, racist, and sexist then ask those who voted for Trump (because some painfully struggled with the dangerous rhetoric): What policies spoke to you? What was your hope? Do you have concerns?

If you assume that all Clinton voters are disconnected elitist, then ask those who voted for Clinton: What policies spoke to you? What was your hope? Did you have concerns?

If you assume that all Sanders supporters are lazy, free-loaders demanding the government pay the bill, then ask those who support him: What policies spoke to you? What was your hope? Did you have concerns?

May we seek understanding first in courage, strength, and energy to heal wounds and reconcile divisions.

The Women’s March
There has been much conversation and debate about the Women’s March(s). In general, I support the constitutional right to peaceful protest despite whether I agree or not with the cause. In addition to peaceful, I personally hold that it should be respectful.

There are women who neither participated in nor supported the march. Some of these women are expressing questions worthy of being pondered and engaged in further conversation. These questions include the following, which I personally responded.

Do I support the march? Did I participate?
I support the march. Although I have never participated in a protest, I did consider participating on Saturday but had other obligations.

Why do I support the effort?
Although woman have made significant progress in recent decades, unfortunately woman often are not fully able to live into that equality. This may be evident in the daily life of women, personally and professionally. This progress has been threatened during the political election in the person, the speech, and the proposed policies of President Donald Trump and his administration.

Those women who march also expressed concern for their loved ones, friends, and neighbors who have been threatened or victimized due to their ethnicity, immigration status, and/or religious adherence during the political election in the speech and proposed policies of President Donald Trump and his administration.

Lastly, my great-grandmother (Clara Anne Seeking/Revalee) was a suffragist who marched for the vote and liberties of women. If those liberties are threatened, I will not remain silent and I will fight.

What are these women afraid of?
I cannot speak for the whole, but I am concerned that President Donald Trump and his administration will act upon campaign promises and policies that threaten the constitutional rights of American people, particularly the immigrate, the Muslim, and the women.

In essence, I am concerned that President Donald Trump does not whole-heartedly embrace the American experiment nor holds the well-being of the American people at heart.

Why was the focus on Sexual Organs and Reproduction?
The most tangible evidence of women not permitted to fully live into their equality is the governmental regulations concerning women’s health care, primarily our access to birth control and ability to choose a safe abortion. [Abortion is a complex issue and this is not a moralistic debate or judgment]. The current, debated, and proposed regulations directly affect and limit the legal liberties of women but not men.

In addition, the American public continues to place significance on the reproductive ability of women. This can lead to judgment and discrimination. As a young woman who has had a hysterectomy prior to birthing children, I have various personal experiences that reflect this unfortunate reality.

A Concluding Thought about the March
If you supported the march, you should have marched for all women empowering each to make choices for their own vocations and well-being, this includes:

  • Trade School, College, University, or no higher education;
  • Blue Collar Labor or White Collar Careers;
  • Stay-at-Home Spouse/Parent or Business Owner/CEO;
  • “Pro-Choice”, “Pro-Life”, and those in the undecided;
  • Democrat, Republican, or Independent;
  • Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Pagan, Wiccan, Spiritual but Not Religions, etc.; and
  • Parents (biological/adoptive) and those without children.

2017 Gender Roles
The journey to ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) includes a psychological evolution. This evolution utilized multiple tools, such as a test created in the 1950s when the expectations and roles of the genders were more culturally defined. The test diagnosed me with “Gender Identity Disorder” and he referred to me as “Gender Role Confused”. Therefore, I may not be qualified for speaking to “Gender Roles”.

There is a meme that has crossed by Facebook feed multiple times recently, it reads:

“Our generation is becoming so busy trying to prove that woman can do what men can do  that women are losing their uniqueness.
Women weren’t created to do everything a man can do.
Women were created to do everything a man can’t do.”

I cannot agree with this statement, I am being challenged as I wrestle with it because I was taught these were the only sex (gender) specific abilities:

  • those that require male sexual organs (penis and testicles), such as impregnating
  • those that require female sexual organs (uterus and ovaries), such as birthing a child

Ok, males also are capable of more easily peeing while standing up. 🙂

Perhaps, I am sensitive to this meme as I do not have any of these sexual organs. And therefore, if I can not “do everything a man can’t do” then I might as well prove I can do whatever a man can do {That peeing thing may be a challenge].

But, seriously. Although there are men and women comfortable in the traditionally defined gender roles, there are also men and women who are not comfortable with said gender roles. Therefore, men and women should be empowered in their choices for themselves, their vocations, and their family without being confined to traditional gender roles.

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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Pondering


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