Time to Return to Blogging by Talking About Things I Don’t Usually Talk About

March 16, 2012 § 4 Comments

Mimetismo by Remedios Varo. Currently at LACMA’s “In Wonderland” exhibit.

Because that totally makes sense? Here is something that also makes only a questionable amount of sense: I am taking a break from writing to write some more, but on a different subject.

I guess I stopped by to complain. I hope you don’t mind. The thing that I wish to complain about is the way women are treated. I feel like women somehow are treated by society as if we were second rate citizens and no one really tries to keep it a secret and no one seems to be all that upset. Well maybe there are fleeting moments of anger, but then seem to quiet down very quickly.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art recently (a month-ish ago) opened an absolutely beautiful exhibit, “In Wonderland”, (which I cannot recommend enough!) celebrating women surrealist artists as creators in their own right and not simply as the muses, sidekicks, wives, companions of their often more famous male counterparts. The exhibit is great not just because of the work that is on display, but also because it highlights themes that I feel are prevalent in all women’s lives, regardless of how we express those. I remember walking through the exhibit and thinking, “Some of these things must also be felt by men.” Things like feeling out of place, feeling inadequate were very common. There is heartbreak and there is humor in a lot of the art on display.

For some reason though, it seems like the experiences of women are not as welcome in the world. They get shushed. The reason why there aren’t really art exhibits that specifically honor men as a group is probably because men have already had plenty of chances to sound off. I found it incredibly sad that several of the artist’s represented in “In Wonderland” were never very well known or were shadowed by the artistic work of a more famous significant other.

I also found it sad that an exhibit celebrating the powerful imagination and skill of women opened at the same time that women’s reproductive rights were under debate. In my head, there is no debate over whether or not all insurance companies should provide coverage for birth control: they should. For some reason it never occurred to me that employers would object to including coverage for birth control for religious reasons. What does religion have to do with your health? With your work? I’m not sure. I do know that your health and work are very much related in that if you are unwell, you can’t be very unproductive at work, so why not just give employees the best coverage affordable?

It disgusts me to think of people assuming that a woman on birth control is a woman asking others to pay for her to be sexually promiscuous as a certain infamous voice in the media proclaimed. It also disgusts me to think that people have the right to assume why a woman may take birth control pills and that they have any right to assume anything about her sexual activity and her morals. To begin with, if a woman wants to have sex with no one, one person, or twelve people, it isn’t anyone’s business apart from her and her partner(s). Secondly, if anyone knows anything about birth control pills, it’s not like they protect you from every negative consequence associated with sex. The pill will generally protect you from pregnancy. It does not protect a woman from STDs, UTIs, or negative emotional consequences that could be considered a risk associated with sex. A woman on the pill is not saying, “I want someone else to take responsibility for me”, she is saying, “I want to be in control of my body.”

For some reason, I hardly hear about other reasons why a woman might be on birth control besides preventing pregnancy. What about women who (like me) experience severe physical pain during menstruation and take the pill to lessen that pain? Or women who have a horribly irregular cycle otherwise? Women who take it to help with acne? I don’t understand what that has to do with religion.

Why is it that as a woman, I have to deal with men who feel like it’s okay to refer to me as if I am nothing but a body, a sexual object when I am just trying to do things like walk from point A to point B? And why is it that when some men are being more persistent, no one else stands up for me? I get at most a sympathetic look, how helpful.

Why do women seem to earn consistently less than men, even when putting in relatively equal hours of work? And why is it that fields that seem to have so many women (oh I don’t know, let’s say information science for example) seem to have so few of them in the highest positions?

Women are too often not respected. And for some reason, we aren’t even considered capable of making our own decisions about our bodies, something that we should be able to as legal citizens. I sincerely hope to see a time when women and men are treated equally.

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§ 4 Responses to Time to Return to Blogging by Talking About Things I Don’t Usually Talk About

  • Mayon says:

    Every time I read the news nowadays, I’m reminded of how, as a woman, my experience isn’t respected, or even considered, as you point out. It makes me feel marginalized, but on top of that, it makes me incredibly sad that it’s 2012 and women still face this sort of systematic oppression. And it infuriates me that a lot of the focus seems to be because it’s election season, so candidates and legislators are carrying out their war on women to get elected/re-elected. And that makes me even sadder–does that mean these sentiments, which I consider to be radically far-right and anti-women, actually hold political power?

    God knows I could go on and on about the whole birth control debate. Oftentimes I can’t even get past to considering why women might use birth control for reasons other than sex because it is fundamentally disturbing to me that policymakers are actively fighting against allowing health insurance (which women pay for!) to cover a basic, preventive service that promotes the health & well-being of our entire population (women, their partners, and their families) AS WELL AS saves millions of (taxpayer!) dollars associated with the costs of unplanned pregnancies, whether those end in delivery or abortion. It frightens as well as excites me to enter the field of public health in a time like this–frightening because I don’t understand why it’s a discussion at all, exciting because I want to fight against the war on women.

    Anyway, I’m glad you wrote this. I’ve been thinking about blogging about the awful birth control debates, but as you obviously know, my blog has been inactive for a number of months. Maybe over spring break? For now, I think I’ll link you.

  • helstone says:

    THIS. Forever and ever, amen.

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