On Respect and the Women's March

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Unless you live under a rock, you're aware that the Women's March on Washington took place on Saturday, and that attendance was far larger than organizers estimated or hoped. Because I oppose the current administration, I strongly approve of this activity.

I have learned, however, that there are some liberal women out there being disrespectful of conservative women because they chose not to participate in the March. I also know that the reverse is true, that there are some conservative women who are being disrespectful of women who did choose to march. Specifically, they are attacking each others' feminist credentials, implying that THEIR brand of feminism is the "right" one, and the that people who don't believe as they do are "traitors" or some such bullshit.

Here's the thing. Feminism is not a contest. At it's core, it's about rights, choice and self-determination. If you believe women should have control over their own destinies, then you're a feminist, whether you choose to be a career woman, a stay at home parent, an activist, or choose to wear religious garb. If you believe that women should not have control over their destinies, that society, or the patriarchy, or other women should get to decide their fate, then you're not. In this respect, feminism really is a bipartisan issue, and it irks me when groups try to take control of the term to advance their own political agenda.

Let's all of us try to elevate the discourse, shall we? The Women's March was a peaceful, nationwide example of people exercising their 1st Amendment rights. This is what democracy looks like, and it doesn't deserve to be disrespected. If conservative women want to organize their own demonstration expressing their opposing ideas, then I firmly believe that their activities should ALSO be respected, provided that their event is ALSO conducted legally and peacefully.

Everyone agrees that the current polarization of our country needs to be addressed, but no one is interested in stopping their personal attacks long enough to criticize the ideas and not the individuals.
 
For example, when left-leaning citizens demonstrate and the event turns violent, conservatives should rightly point out that those INDIVIDUALS are not behaving appropriately. Not that "all liberals" are destructive and disrespectful of others' property. Conversely, when left-leaning citizens demonstrate peacefully and without incident and conservative citizens attack them them personally ANYWAY, then liberals should call out those conservative INDIVIDUALS for their hypocrisy. 
Some people are - and should be - judged upon the content of their character that they choose to display publicly. If they demonstrate a disregard for the truth, for the law, for other human beings, then I will judge them on those actions and label them appropriately. Our public servants absolutely should be judged this way, regardless of political affiliation. This is the price they pay for living a public life. Private citizens, however, are a different matter, and should be treated as such.

Hyper partisanship is a disease, a disease that our forefathers warned us about. If we want to change the political landscape and discourse, it must begin with examining our own beliefs and behaviors, and refusing to use a double standard in that examination. 

This past election season (and to be honest, the next four years) are really going to test both conservatives and liberals in this regard. Speaking for my little corner of the Internet, I pledge to make a concerted effort to condemn ideas rather than individuals, and to work to treat others with respect, even if our ideas are diametrically opposed. *

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*This last part is only within reason. People of good conscience can disagree about the role government should play in our lives and still remain respectful. But some behavior is just beyond the pale. If you're a Nazi sympathizer who believes that Germany should not have stopped until they got the job fully completed, then I'm going to judge you, harshly, and treat you with the disrespect that such opinions deserve.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome!