Desperately seeking to understand . . .

. . .  but I just can’t. The last week has been a tough one for a lot of people. I am struggling to come to terms with both Brexit and Donald Trump. I can sense in my bones that things are going to get rough all round soon enough. However, my spirits were lifted by the women’s marches all around the world. Peaceful and respectful on the whole, families stood united in voicing their concern about the future.

This morning, when reading Facebook, I saw this post from my cousin. Now, I know that she is a Seychelloise born Republican and that we have opposing political views. That is absolutely fine. The world would be a very boring place if we all believed the same and thought the same way. The world is beautiful because of our diversity: views, skin, gender, sexuality, they all matter.

So, here’s the post, it’s a long one:

For the snowflakes .. I did not write it. I asked permission if I could borrow it. 

I am not a “disgrace to women” because I don’t support the women’s march. I do not feel I am a “second class citizen” because I am a woman. I do not feel my voice is “not heard” because I am a woman. I do not feel I am not provided opportunities in this life or in America because I am a woman. I do not feel that I “don’t have control of my body or choices” because I am a woman. I do not feel like I am ” not respected or undermined” because I am a woman. I am not a “victim” because you say I am.
I AM a woman.
I can make my own choices.
I can speak and be heard.
I can VOTE.
I can work if I want.
I can stay home if I want.
I control my body.
I can defend myself.
I can defend my family.
There is nothing stopping me to do anything in this world but MYSELF.
I do not blame my circumstances or problems on anything other than my own choices or even that sometimes in life, we don’t always get what we want. I take responsibility for myself.
I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend. I am not held back in life but only by the walls I choose to not go over which is a personal choice.
Quit blaming.
Take responsibility.
If you want to speak, do so. But do not expect for me, a woman, to take you seriously wearing a pink va-jay-jay hat on your head and screaming profanities and bashing men.
If you have beliefs, and speak to me in a kind matter, I will listen. But do not expect for me to change my beliefs to suit yours. Respect goes both ways.
If you want to impress me, especially in regards to women, then speak on the real injustices and tragedies that affect women in foreign countries that do not that the opportunity or means to have their voices heard.
Saudi Arabia, women can’t drive, no rights and must always be covered.
China and India, infantcide of baby girls.
Afghanistan, unequal education rights.
Democratic Republic of Congo, where rapes are brutal and women are left to die, or HIV infected and left to care for children alone.
Mali, where women can not escape the torture of genital mutilation.
Pakistan, in tribal areas where women are gang raped to pay for men’s crime.
Guatemala, the impoverished female underclass of Guatemala faces domestic violence, rape and the second-highest rate of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa. An epidemic of gruesome unsolved murders has left hundreds of women dead, some of their bodies left with hate messages. Or the 7 year old girls being sold or married off to 60 year old men, Or the millions of women sold and bought into sex trafficking.
And that’s just a few examples.
So when women get together in AMERICA and whine they don’t have equal rights and march in their clean clothes, after eating a hearty breakfast, and it’s like a vacation away that they have paid for to get there…
This WOMAN does not support it.

I read this and my immediate reaction was to get angry. Then I stopped myself because an emotional reaction will do me no good in my effort to understand what she is trying to say.  So I stopped and thought about it.

The person who wrote this post may not be able to spell ‘infanticide’ but she raises some very valid points. There are far worse atrocities happening to women around the world. And she is ok. She feels that she has power of herself, her body and her life, which is great. All power to her. You know what, I also feel that I am in charge of my own destiny, that where I am now is a direct consequence of the decisions I have made in my life. I, too, take full responsibility for my life, the things that I do and the decisions that I have made. Here’s the rub. Some things are, inevitably, out of my control and my life is not just about me and what I can get out of it.

The thing is not everyone feels that way, or if they do, they are very scared that they may not be able to in the future. And the women’s marches took place all over the world, not just in America. They were marched by women, from all backgrounds, not just the middle classes, but they were for all the people who feel marginalised by this president. They were marched for the Muslim women who are too scared to wear their hajibs because of the way Donald Trump legitimised anti-Muslim sentiment. They were marched for the disabled kids whose education is being put into the hands of a woman who hasn’t even read the law that protects their educational rights and seems hell bent on creating an inequal education system. They were marched for the millions of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for their women’s healthcare. They were marched for the millions of people who are about to lose their healthcare altogether through the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They were marched for the millions of legal immigrants who no longer feel welcome in their own country. They were marched for the LGBTQIA community who are always targets.

We are talking about a president who was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women and who then dismissed it as “locker room talk”. As if that should be acceptable in the locker room. As if that should be acceptable anywhere. So there is now a president in the White House, who young men look up to, who has said that it is okay to a) brag about being a sexual predator and b) men can say what they want between themselves and, therefore, fuel that kind of behaviour and not be held accountable. For crying out loud, he said he would have married his daughter if she wasn’t his daughter because she is so beautiful. (She is but I am pretty convinced that there is far more to her than looks.) We have a president who clearly objectifies women and that should scare you. It might not affect you directly, but that will affect your daughters and your granddaughters as they grow up and are having to deal with the aftermath of sanctioning that kind of behaviour.

I don’t hate Donald Trump. I don’t know the man and hate is a very negative, soul destroying sentiment. I don’t hate anyone. I don’t have time for hate. So I have based my opinion of him on what I have seen of his campaign, his tweets and his rhetoric. And I have been deeply offended on so many occasions. Here is a man who ran his campaign on division. He turned against the entire Muslim community, the Mexicans, he has admitted to sexually aggressive behaviour, he clearly objectifies women, he mocked a disabled reporter and has started repealing the Affordable Care Act. So millions of women don’t feel ok, they don’t feel in control of the bodies or their lives. If they lose their healthcare and Planned Parenthood, how can they?

Donald Trump is mercurial, to say the least. He is also deeply insecure. He spent his first speech denigrating the media and accusing them of lying regarding the attendance of his inauguration. He threw his toys out of the pram. Surely, SURELY, he had more important things to worry about then the size of the crowd. He had just become President of the United States! He claims to be a strong leader but that is just the behaviour of someone who is indescribably weak. He says one thing, behaves one way and then completely denies it in the face of hard, physical evidence. Where is his integrity, where are his beliefs? He has shown time and again that he is an egomaniac, if not a complete narcissist. If he is a narcissist, we should all be terrified. Narcissists have a complete lack of affective empathy. That means they can not emotionally relate to another human being. Period. Imagine that. Why should he care about poor people? He’s not poor. Why should he care about mental health? It doesn’t affect him. Why should he believe in climate change? That might damage his businesses.

Yes, I am a middle class American living in London, having just eaten my warm porridge and drunk my coffee. Yes, I have healthcare, thanks to the NHS. Yes, my life is good. So by the tone of my cousin’s post, I should keep my mouth shut. I won’t. Just because my life is blessed, does not mean that I can’t appreciate that others are not in my fortunate position and try to help them. It does not mean that I can’t voice my concern that so many are going to be worse off. There is a world beyond me and my bubble that I care about. Even if I myself would not have an abortion, I would fight for other women to have that right. I have been a member, in my time, of both Amnesty International and Greenpeace. I recently started a petition, with friends, to pressure the UK government into addressing the funding crisis in education, even though my child is about to leave the mainstream and won’t necessarily be affected.

These marches were not about slagging men off or being violent. They were marches against the fear that Donald Trump inflames. It was about inequality. The problem is that we don’t know what his policies are. There were none in his campaign bar, make America great again, build a wall, drain the swamp and ban all Muslims. We had to go by what his tone was, what he encouraged, what he deemed appropriate. None of it was good. None of it was kind.

It’s not about me. It’s about us. It’s about what kind of people do we want to be, what kind of future do we want for our children and who do we want to lead us there. Marching when we are not happy is exactly what we should be doing. It is an expression of democracy. It’s called freedom of speech. It is taking responsibility for our futures, our countries, our rights and using our voices to express just what we want, what we think, what we want to protect and what we want to change. It is speaking up for those who do not feel that they have a voice. It is asking to be heard. Without public protest, we would still be living in the Dark Ages.

As for the atrocities around the world, the only way to stop those is through international pressure from other countries, but you have to have a leader who is willing to look outward as well as inward to do that. And just because you are not suffering in those countries does not mean that you should accept when you feel marginalised in yours. That’s like saying my friends shouldn’t confide in me about their worries for their children just because their children are not as disabled as mine. That’s bullshit. If I had that attitude, it would display a complete lack of compassion on my part. Luckily, I don’t.

Finally, I don’t get the snowflake reference. Is it meant to be derogatory? If so, it’s a rather odd choice. Snowflakes are stunningly beautiful geometric designs, each completely unique. They are battered by winds and, yet, despite looking fragile, they remain unbroken. One can’t do much on their own but when they gather in their millions, they are devastatingly strong, killing anyone in their path when they move. It’s called an avalanche. And, although, you may think they are white, they are actually colourless. Snow itself is white simply because it is devoid of any colour. So if this post makes me a snowflake, thank you for the compliment.


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