When International Women’s Day began in 1909, it was largely about a woman’s right to vote and equal pay. I admit that women have not always had the same rights as men. It is a great thing that we can vote today, and I am glad that people fought for my right to have a say in our government.
Today the stakes are different. I don’t believe that women (at least in this country) are fighting for equal rights; we have equal rights. The Declaration states it so beautifully, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is speaking about mankind (that means all of us) regardless of gender or race. I don’t need to fight for equal rights – I already have them. First, they are given to me by God, and secondly, they are upheld by the Constitution of the United States of America.
As a woman, I can choose to be anything I want to be. Just like every person in this country, I have a choice in what job I want, what home I buy, where I live and the lifestyle I lead. So often we act like we have no options. A wise man once told me, “The choices you make will turn around and make you.” If you don’t like where you are in life, make a different choice, but stop blaming it on the lack of women’s rights. If your job isn’t paying you enough or you’re not happy with your living situation, take the steps you need to take (whether it’s more education, a job change, a move) to change your situation.
We cannot always have everything we want in life. If I want to sit at home on the couch and do nothing, I can, but if I also want to be rich, the two are not compatible. Women have been told they can have everything, but this is simply not true. We all have choices – and the decisions we make will result in various outcomes. This is not a double standard for women, this is a fact of life for every human alive.
As a woman, I have many things pulling at me for attention; however, I choose to prioritize certain things above others. I am a Christian, a pastor’s wife, a mother, a tutor – these titles come with certain responsibilities. On any given day, I can prioritize one above the other. If I choose to prioritize motherhood over my job, then I will not receive as much pay as someone who puts their job first. We need to stop acting as if we don’t have a choice. I make choices every day based on what I want out of life; those choices have consequences, and that is ok.
When I heard about the “Day Without a Woman,” my first thought was that I can’t understand how going on strike helps women. I believe it weakens us as women. I have students who need me to help them read, laundry that needs to be done, a family that needs to be fed, a church website to update, children to take to the dentist, etc. If I choose to strike, just to show others what a day without me would be like, I am proving to the world that I am selfish and only think about myself. My husband and I are a team. He helps me with the kids, he counts on me, he appreciates me, and he knows that he would struggle to do everything without me. My students’ parents are counting on me to teach their children reading. How selfish to strike so that everyone can see how important I think I am! There are plenty of times that the laundry doesn’t get done, I feed everyone fast food, and I must cancel one of my tutoring sessions, but it is because of a conflict, not because I need to feel appreciated.
I think it is incredibly hypocritical for women in this country to parade around acting as if we have it so bad. We have it better than any generation before us, and better than most women around the world. There are countries that I have visited where women are still put to death when their husband dies. National Geographic just published a story on widows in other countries whose entire livelihood is tied to their husband. Women’s rights are so much more than reproduction and abortion. There are real atrocities happening to women around the world, and we have no clue how good we have it as American women.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. The plight of women around the world is not going to be improved because some middle-class American women wore red and refused to work for the day. Change happens when people show up. If you believe that changes need to happen, get to work! As an American woman, I have a great life, full of opportunity and choices. I am blessed to live in a country whose rule of law, the Constitution, guarantees my equal rights and freedom. May we never take for granted the liberty and rights that we enjoy as Americans!
Secretary, Scott County Republicans