Women's Rights Today
By: Amanda Labuza
Saturday, January 21st, 2017 will be a day that goes down in history as the largest organized protest in U.S. history. As most of you are aware, an estimated 500,000 people gathered in Washington DC to march for women’s rights, with similar gatherings happening in all 50 states, over 70 countries, all 7 continents, totaling an estimated 2.5 million people according to USA Today. It is hard to ignore so many voices, but that doesn’t mean it is hard to dismiss them.
While my friends were marching in DC for Women’s Rights, I was having an argument with a 17-year-old boy who thought none of this affected him. Unfortunately, he isn’t the only one with those feelings. Comments can be found on social media ranging from “what rights are you missing?” to our own President asking "Why didn’t these people vote?” Too many people are brushing this demonstration off as the actions of "whiny women."
The Women’s March was so much more than Republicans vs Democrats. It was a stand against a man who thinks grabbing pussy, walking into women’s dressing rooms, and making inappropriate comments are just part of being a man. I’ve had the privilege of living a life full of men who respect women, and I know it is not just part of the male nature. "Boys will be boys" is an excuse for poor behavior. Women marched for fair treatment, including fair pay. To keep the right to equal health care premiums. We want affordable birth control - not just to prevent pregnancy, but because it is also used to treat so many other problems including cramps, migraines, acne, and primary ovarian insufficiency. Marching was a request for a society that asks men to show restraint, instead of asking women to cover up. A society that does not ask victims, “What were you wearing?” but rather, “How can I help you handle this?”
In recent decades, our country has made strides in women’s rights. New laws have been passed to help protect women, but it is time to put into action what is on paper. This has to begin with the people. While I would love to have a president who would lead by example, it is my opinion that we have been given a leader who exemplifies how not to treat a woman. Instead, we must learn from each other. Peer pressure is the best motivator for change. We need women who will not accept unfair treatment. We need people to stand up and be models for others. We cannot let this action continue while we sit passively by. We need men who won’t laugh at another man’s joke about sexual assault. Men who understand that masculinity is not defined by the bruises your fist can produce. We need people to support one other and stand up to those who haven’t learned yet that it is not okay to speak down to someone because they lack a y chromosome.
So I argued with a 17-year-old boy who beleived that none of these issues affected him. After all, he is a male, so why should he care? Never mind that women's rights will affect his mother, friends, and girlfriends, should he be lucky enough to have one. He will see, it affects him too. Our world has advanced because of both men and women. Watson and Crick could not have discovered the structure of DNA without Rosalind Franklin. Hidden Figures highlights the role women played in getting us to the moon. And we all know this world would be darker without Beyonce.
The events of January 21st were far from "petty whining," as some may describe them. They were a beautiful stance, a demand for change. No, marching for a day will not change the law, but it has sparked a discussion. It serves as evidence that millions want their friends, mothers, daughters, and sisters to be treated fairly. So I urge you all to use this as a first step, and find your own way to make a change.