Ayaan Hirsi Ali wants to reclaim feminism from all her “fellow idiotic women”. Women like me. Why are we idiotic? We thought scantily-dressed women on a prominent scientist’s shirt was disrespectful and unprofessional. Hirsi Ali claims that even mentioning it proves how stupid we are, how we’ve lost sight of our goals as feminists, because we earned the right to an education in the United States and there are women elsewhere in the world who don’t have the same right. She claims that American women really have nothing else to fight for and should focus their attention on helping women living in the Middle East.
That’s right. We in America have made it! We have education! Now what we need to do is sit down and shut up about our trivial other problems and look for ways to help women with REAL problems. So what if religious zealots in America are doing everything in their power to make abortion illegal, even to save the mother’s life (because if she can’t bring a viable baby to term she deserves to die). So what if women in America make less than men, which ends up creating a permanent underclass of poor mothers who can barely keep their children feed? So what if women are discriminated against in the workplace, forced to endure slights about their work ethic and intelligence while being denied promotions, especially if they are mothers?
Women in America die in childbirth far more frequently than in 60 other countries–including many Middle Eastern countries.
In America, almost 6 in 10 poor adults are women. But that’s not a viable problem for millions of American women–or their children, is it? Not when there’s Muslim countries that also have poor, abused women.
Obamacare allowed low-income women the opportunity to afford healthcare–and Republicans are doing their damnedest to get rid of it. Republican states refused the Medicaid expansion, leaving many women without healthcare and without options (especially rural women in areas where local hospitals have been closed due to lack of funds). Fighting to retain the healthcare we have, and increase access for others, should be important, right? Or should poor women in the US take a back seat to women in the Middle East who have it so much worse?
Tell that to my mother. Oh wait, you can’t. She died of breast cancer, a disease my family could not fight because we could not afford health insurance–and the doctors, the chemotherapists, refused to help her unless they received payment up front. When chemotherapy payments are close to 3/4 the family’s monthly salary, getting treatment is not an option. I refuse to believe that my mother’s life, and the lives of women just like her, mean less because they live in America, that their struggles and agony should be ignored in favor of the plight of others who, we are told, have it much worse.
I refuse to prioritize. Women’s plights, no matter where, no matter what, are important. Trivializing one will lead to the trivializing of another, and another, until all issues associated with women are relegated to the rubbish bin in favor of things that REALLY matter. Any excuse to delegitimize women’s issues will be snagged by the lowest common denominator–or so-called feminists who have a vested interest in keeping their power and privilege by denigrating women and treating their issues as second-rate inconsequentials (looking at you, Dawkins).
My husband put it this way: It’s like telling a person suffering from pneumonia that they can’t be treated until cancer is cured. It’s idiotic, unfair, and cruel.