United stand vital to protect women’s rights

By Donna Steele

Women and men are gathering for the Women’s March on Washington the day after the presidential inauguration. There are women’s marches in other cities, too. I will step in sync with the hundreds of thousands in D.C. who, per the march organizers’ Facebook site, “… plan to make a bold and clear statement to this country on the national and local level that we will not be silent, and we will not let anyone roll back the rights we have fought and struggled to get.”

These rights are the right of reproductive freedom within reasonably established guidelines established in Roe v. Wade; the right for equal pay for equal work; the right of maternity leave; the right not to lose your job because you are pregnant.

Looking for signage for the march, I perused Etsy using the tag, “feminist.” Some slogans were funny: the ubiquitous “Well-behaved women rarely make history”; some were in your face: “Grow a Pair,” with an illustration of ovaries attached to their matching anatomical parts; and one I didn’t understand: “Intersectional Feminist.” I did a Google search.

An intersectional feminist, per an article on everydayfeminism.com, considers race, class, sexuality and other identifiers as equal ingredients in a cocktail of under-representation and oppression.

For example, as a young white girl, I behaved according to 1950s gender roles prescribed by my parents while living under their roof. My gender determined who they thought I could be.

Women of color may not only experience gender bias but racism as well. As in, “You’re a doctor?” Combine the dual struggle against racism and gender, and you have Intersectional Feminism. I settled on “Girls just wanna have FUNdamental rights!” for my slogan.

I find it hard to believe that in my youth I witnessed the phenomenon of burning bras and sexual liberation and that in my 50s, I’m having to remind our president-elect that women should have final say about their own bodies.

A handmade poster, saying, “If I make my uterus a corporation, will y’all stop regulating it?” sums it up succinctly.

I’m pro-choice and I’m also pro-life — for the life of the woman. It confounds me that an embryo is considered by some to be equal to the life of a woman with a life story, experience, a family, who has mastered language, motor skills and is trying to navigate life on her own terms.

I’m also confounded when rapists get light sentences, as did Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer whose future was more important to the judge than the life-shattering experience of the woman he raped at the dumpster.

It’s no small thing the president-elect bragged about — you know what. If this is his mindset, if this is how he hopes to impress someone, his instincts for women will tarnish his ability to sign laws protecting them.

He is fated to select someone for the Supreme Court who doesn’t see women’s rights fundamentally as human rights.

A woman who disagrees with me on most of my opinion pieces — but who does so amiably and is someone with whom I’d share a cup of coffee — told me she used to be a “militant feminist.” I regret I didn’t ask her what this meant. Back to the internet.

From her own lips on YouTube, Kathy Griffin said she worships Gloria Steinem and believes that being a feminist simply means you believe in equal rights. And she likes the word, “militant.”

When I think of “militant,” I think of carrying arms and moving quickly from one stationary object to another while trying to hide, which ties in nicely with Gloria Steinem’s statement that “the future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.”

So I’ll be moving on Jan. 21 with countless others; but we won’t be hiding.

Donna Steele of Greenfield is a member of a variety of community organizations aimed at bettering the city, including Greenfield Main Street and the Greenfield Coalition.