Pearls & Vodka

My Place in the Feminist Movement

Back in August of this year, I wrote a blog called, “Unconquerable Warriors.” In this blog, I talked about everything from Barbara Streisand, to Hillary Clinton, to Wonder Woman. I addressed the viewpoints of some strong women around me in regards to feminism. The issue of women’s rights was back on the front page of the news today with the Trump Administration’s decision to allow employers to refuse birth control coverage to their employees. Under Obamacare, there has been a federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. This new decision by the Trump Administration vastly expands exemptions for those that cite moral or religious objections. This was a campaign promise that Donald Trump made, and he kept good on today. Right, wrong or indifferent.

The New York Times today reported that “more than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate.” The Trump Administration argues that only a few companies will actually choose to exercise their right now to refuse coverage and thus, “only affect a small minority of those insured.” [1] The reality is that hundreds of thousands of women could lose birth control benefits they now receive at no cost under Obamacare. Those in opposition to the Trump Administration’s decision today argue that this is a “new low” attempting to deny women the preventive health care coverage they need. On the other hand, folks like Speaker Paul Ryan proclaimed, “This is a landmark day for religious liberty.” He went on to say that this would ensure that people “can freely live out their religious convictions and moral beliefs.” [1]

Medical experts on the matter have begun weighing in. Dr. Hayword L. Brown, the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said: “the rules would turn back the clock on women’s health.” He went on to say that, “affordable contraception for women saves lives. It prevents pregnancies. It improves maternal mortality. It prevents adolescent pregnancies.” [1] The Trump Administration listed health risks associated with some contraceptives and said the existing mandate could promote “risky sexual behavior” among some of the younger population. [1]

Not to state the obvious, but there are a lot of other reasons for using birth control besides as a contraceptive. There are women who use birth control for diseases like endometriosis. There are women who use birth control to help regulate hormone imbalances. There are women who use birth control to help with cysts in their ovaries.

Women’s rights and the role of women in society has been fresh in the news this week, not just in regards to birth control.

During the Carolina Panthers’ news conference, quarterback Cam Newton was asked by a female reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue, about his wide receiver Devin Funchess embracing the physicality of routes. Newton laughed and responded, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like…it’s funny.” Rodrique confronted Newton after the conference where he was unapologetic. Since the exchange happened, Newton has lost a large endorsement deal from Dannon™. His Coach Ron Rivera said his quarterback “made a mistake” with his conduct. [2]

Cam quickly faced the backlash for his comment and did not immediately apologize. He did finally apologize for his “degrading and disrespectful” word choice. He went on to explain it was not his intention, and “if you were offended,” he sincerely apologized. Newton himself is the father of two beautiful daughters, and he also said he wanted to “instill in them that they can do and be anything they want to be.” [3]

And, as if that wasn’t enough…

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is on an indefinite leave from the company he co-founded while they do an internal investigation into numerous sexual harassment allegations against him. His company said that his future there depends on his “therapeutic progress” and the “results of the internal investigation.” Earlier this week The New York Times reported that Weinstein had reached at least eight legal settlements with women over alleged harassment over the years. Weinstein has been encouraged by his board to step down, but he hopes to “weather the storm.” [4]

The female kind is at the center of all of these situations. Whether it’s fighting over birth control, sexist remarks by an NFL star, or sexual harassment allegations against a movie producer, women are at the center of all of these issues.

One thing that I struggle with as a right-leaning voter is the idea that the Republican Party continually tries to place restrictions on women. Republicans allegedly do not like for the federal government to be in control of so much. We were presumably founded on the idea of returning control to the states. But yet, Republicans push for things like controlling who can refuse birth control coverage, who can have an abortion and what a woman can do with her body.

On Tuesday of this week, Arizona Representative Trent Franks sponsored a bill that would make it a crime to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The punishment consists of the possibility of a fine, up to five years in prison, or both. The bill passed in the House, following party lines, 237-189. The bill does allow for exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman. It’s however unlikely the Senate Republicans can get 60 votes together, with only a 52-seat majority, to pass the bill and move the legislation to President Trump’s desk. [5]

Of course, groups on each side of the issue had strong opinions about the bill. The Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group in D.C., announced that they thought it was past time for Congress to pass this law protecting unborn children from the “unspeakable cruelty” of late-term abortions. A VP from Planned Parenthood declared that the bill’s intent was clear, “to shame women and to ban safe, legal abortions.” [5]

Let me say emphatically; I do not think I could ever have an abortion. I believe life begins at the moment there is a heartbeat. If it doesn’t, and if an unborn child is not a human life, why do we charge killers with double homicide crimes when they murder a pregnant woman? If there is a heartbeat, they are alive. They are more than just a fetus to me at that point. That being said, I really hate being told what to do. And sure, if the laws work in my favor that’s great. But what if the reverse became true? What if the law became that you had to have an abortion if you were in an inter-racial relationship? Or you had to have an abortion if you already had one child? Or you had to have an abortion if you were over 30?

The fact is when we invite the government into making personal decisions for our lives and give them authority and permission to dictate what we can and cannot do with our own matters of health; we enter a scary potential.

This is 2017.

We were incredibly close to having our first female President. Women have been to the moon. Women have led military missions. Women have performed brain surgery. Women have climbed Mount Everest. Women have made millions of dollars. Women have won Nobel Peace Prizes. Women have become assistant coaches in the NFL. Women have created computer softwares. Women have started their own companies and taken over major existing companies. Women have raised millions of kids.

And yet we still face battles with our legislature telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies. We still face prominent name athletes being shocked that we know a lot about football. And we still face the chances of sexual harassment by powerful men around us.

Our nation lacks respect in a lot of areas. Respect for one another, and respect for those who are different than us, whether that is their race or their gender, or any other slew of reasons. In a day and age when we should be encouraging women to continue to reach for their dreams and supporting them along the way we pigeon-hole them into what we think is their role in society and diminish anything more that they attempt.

So how are we raising our children?

I have a little boy that I hope always treats women with the utmost respect. His Daddy does a fantastic job of modeling that for him. And he is being raised by a Momma who chases after her dreams constantly. He also has two incredibly strong grandmothers in his life who consistently show him what hard work means.

I did not vote for Hillary Clinton, and it had nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman. But in her concession speech, she made this comment, “To all the little girls who are watching, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” And that is so true. She didn’t win her election, but that does not mean this country is not ready for a female President. [6]

I’ve wrestled with the ideology of feminism, and that’s been written about on this blog. I found a quote that I really like and a quote I can actually get behind. G.D Anderson said, “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger, women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives strength.” [7]

I think I’ve found my place in the “feminist movement.” And it’s not in marching at the Women’s March in D.C. with a pink hat on my head. It’s in raising my son to believe women are strong and should be supported and empowered to do anything they want to do. It’s in chasing after my dreams and helping others reach theirs along the way. It’s about never being afraid to try. It’s talking about football routes because I love the game and also talking about home décor because I love that too. It’s about volunteering my time at the GLOW Academy here in Wilmington, a charter school for girls, girls that sometimes come from very little but are brilliant nonetheless and deserve every opportunity imaginable. It’s about working for a company called thread talk™ with my friend Hannah to help empower survivors of domestic violence. It’s about embracing who I am, who God made me to be.

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou [6]








Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema