Women’s Rights: What’s the Big Whoop? Part One

Women’s rights: what’s the big whoop? I have gotten reactions from people that imply they don’t seem to see the big deal. But the problem is, they must just not know the gravity of the situation or the scope of the issue. When the subject is women’s rights, we’re talking about more than half of the world’s population. This includes people of color, people of different sexualities and economic backgrounds etc. etc. So why isn’t women’s rights the biggest priority? Why are issues concerning women swept under the rug? Really think about that question. Why? Luckily, society at large is starting to realize the importance of women’s rights. But some people still have a mentality like this: Women’s rights and feminism: that means bra burnings, man-hating and hairy, angry women, right? Riiiiiiiiight. ‘Cause we live in a sitcom. No. What women’s rights and feminism really entails is mainly just two umbrella terms: Equality and respect.

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Part of our journey as humans is to evolve as a species and to always improve upon ourselves by way of learning. So it doesn’t make sense to leave half our people in the dust does it? We can’t just sit around while sex slavery, female genital mutilation and bride burnings are happening on our planet and say “oh life is unfair.” Yes, life is unfair, but it doesn’t mean we cannot put a stop to human right’s violations. These are real people we’re talking about who are being deeply wronged.

To further my point, think about this: Scientists have recently discovered evidence proving that humans are hard wired for sympathy and compassion more so than aggression. The longest cranial nerve in our body that runs along the skull and downward is called the vagus nerve which, in huge part, sends signals to our brain that make us empathize with others. Think about it: Humans don’t have brute strength or inert, uncanny hunting skills like other animals but we do have strength in numbers and we keep each other alive by sympathizing with one another. We are hard wired for this, particularly due to the vagus nerve. We nurture and rear our young and rescue each other from burning buildings and save each other from natural catastrophes. That is how we have survived as a species. By protecting each other. Society at large often writes off war and aggression and says “oh well it’s human nature.” But is it? Actually, that’s not quite accurate. Humans are more hard-wired for compassion and helping behaviors than aggression. I_Am_documentary_2011_Poster

Ever notice how people become blind in rage? It is because the brain cannot properly function on an emotion that the body is not equipped to handle properly. Throw in some sympathy and compassion and the body says “now we’re talking, I know how to process this.” A great documentary called I Am discusses this in further detail and I highly recommend it. (click here to watch it free online.) This might have seemed like a digression in my writing but my point is this: Human beings are hard wired for compassion: So how, especially in the 21st century, are women’s basic human rights still being horrendously violated? We only have one planet which contains life, (that we know of) so why screw it all up and neglect and dehumanize half it’s people? It just doesn’t make sense.

It is deeply unnerving to consider the ways that there is a lack of respect over the female body in the states and around the world. To me, that is what much of it comes down to: respect. When U.S. politicians don’t respect and understand the female body, that is when they justify higher insurance rates for women because they have more body parts like uterus and ovaries. So? Why are female body parts not the norm? Those body parts, I’ll have you know, create human life. Shouldn’t we prioritize and respect it and keep those people healthy? I don’t see how hard it is to have an ah-ha moment of “Wow. This female body is capable of the miracle-of-fucking-life, we should protect it and respect the woman’s right to her own body.” But men and women alike in politics and organizations are still fighting to put laws on people’s insides. Weird huh?

So, Women’s rights and feminism means equality and respect. And sometimes, you gotta fight for those two things. Much of what I encounter are good people who just aren’t aware of how far the rabbit hole goes. They don’t know all the human rights violations that are going on world-wide and in North America. Be prepared, I’m about to get pretty graphic to establish just how messed up this rabbit hole of reality is. Take for example, the recent problems in Somalia. When you think of Somalia you probably think about pirates and famine, right? Well, let’s dig deeper. For a long time, Somalia has been considered the rape capital of the world. That in itself is devastating. But what makes things worse is it is a country that practices female genital mutilation.

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Photo credit: Sven Torfinn for the NYtmes

Many confuse FGM for ‘female circumcision’ and while this is a thing too, real mutilation is what happens commonly around the world. FGM, especially in Somalia, means mutilating the genitals in different ways including sewing the vagina shut, only to have a small opening for menstruation. Rape is already horrendous in itself, but a Somali woman who has a painfully cut clitoris and stitched vagina is going to suffer at the hands of a rapist exponentially. So women’s rights are being violated, yes, even in this day and age. Luckily there are organizations that are helping alleviate these problems like Sister Somalia. (Fun side note: my friends and I raised money for Sister Somalia. Can I get a woot woot?!) And what about slavery? Didn’t we abolish that a long time ago? Not sex slavery. Millions of girls and women are enslaved everyday, shoved into brothels, drugged and forced to be raped by ‘customers’ day after day. It makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.

Much of it seems hopeless. But what we can do is this: talk about these issues and create awareness. We as people need to work towards solutions to get rid of these abominations being done to women and it starts with education. So that is the big whoop. Women’s basic human rights are being violated and we need to be aware of this in order to put a stop to it. Just by our world populace being more aware of these issues we can begin to dismantle these deeply rooted problems. You cannot fix a problem you cannot see.

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