Friday, March 08, 2013

International Women's Day, Y'All!

Happy International Women's Day, ladies and gentlemen and everyone in between!

I dig this holiday for a lot of reasons, most notably because it acts as a MASSIVE privilege-check for me and makes me look not only at the feminist situation in the US (which I think I do a pretty good job of), but at what's going on around the world. I also get this weird, awesome sense of "It's a Small World After All" solidarity with my sisters in other countries, on other continents, of other cultures.

True, things aren't perfect for women in the USA. This week alone, Arkansas is trying to push through a bill that would criminalize abortion after 12 weeks, which is fifty different flavors of unconstitutional. A woman at UNC-Chapel Hill is potentially facing expulsion for creating a "hostile environment" FOR HER RAPIST when she reported the assault and took him to honors court (seriously, dude, call the wahmbulance. "She told people I raped her and they got mad and it hurt my feelings" is not--repeat, not--a legitimate complaint, especially when compared to, I don't know, "So I thought I this guy was cool and instead he betrayed my trust and injured me physically, emotionally and spiritually"). The United States Council of Bishops released a statement saying they were opposed to the recently-passed Violence Against Women Act because of language that extended protection to the LGBT community--because, after all, Jesus did say "Love your neighbor as yourself--unless they're queer, 'cause that's just gross." Oh, wait. He totally didn't.

There are a lot of countries with more female-friendly policies and general atmosphere.

For instance, there are 17 countries with female prime ministers/heads of state. There are not only the Usual Nordic Suspects Iceland, Denmark and Germany (Angela Merkel, you are my total hero--mostly for giving Baby Bush what for when he had the effrontery to start massaging your shoulders [which, aside within an aside, WTF, dude? This isn't Spring Break on South Padre. This woman could RUIN you in every possible way; physically, sure, but also on an international financial scale] at that summit a few years ago), but also Liberia (Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf FTW!), Jamaica, Argentina and Bangladesh, among others.

Then there are countries (and there are, to use the technical poli-sci term, a metric buttload) that have a higher percentage of female members of parliament--ours is a whopping 17% at the moment, which means we're being taken to leading-lady-school by countries as diverse as China (21%), Mexico (25%), Afghanistan (28%) and Sweden (45%).

 But. There are also a lot of places that are more dangerous/more repressive/generally suckier for ladyfolk.

 In Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, women still can't vote.

South Africa has the highest prevalence of rape in the world, with 40-50% percent of women reporting that they have been raped at some point in their lives (for comparison, in the US that number is 25-30%, which still means that you--yes, you, even if you think you don't--know someone who has been raped).

In Nicaragua, Chile, Malta, Dominican Republic and El Salvador, abortion is illegal EVEN in cases where the woman's life is in danger (not entirely unsurprisingly, these countries lead the pack in terms of unsafe abortions per capita).

There are still countries where there are NO LAWS against domestic violence. None. In Saudia Arabia, Iraq and most of Africa (with the notable exceptions of Egypt and Morocco), battered women have no legal recourse.

Wow. That kind of ended on a down note. But all the BS notwithstanding, being a woman in a community of women is absolutely awesome, and having a day to remember the unimpeachable awesomeness of the Ellen Johnson Sirleafs and Geraldine Ferraros, the Indira Ghandis and Golda Meirs and Benazir Bhuttos, is always a pleasure. We've come a long way, and we still have a long way to go. 

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