Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Week About Women

This has been a week about women for me. And not just because I am a woman, I swear.

Of course, today is International Women's Day, trending on Twitter and in my Italian class this morning where my professor led us in a conversation about "La Giornata delle Donne." But the night before that, I attended the We Say "NO!" to Violence Against Women service at Marsh Chapel. And the day before that, the discussion for my religion class was about Confucian filial piety for women.

There's a thread of continuity here, I promise.   

Let's trace it back to that aforementioned discussion section. After reviewing the expectations of Confucian society for women--namely, that they stay confined to the domestic sphere and influence the world through influencing their husbands--our TA asked what we thought the role of women should be today. Are they meant to be stay-at-home moms? Can they have careers? Should they have careers?

Some of the answers of my classmates shocked me. Things like, "Men are supposed to work. Women are supposed to stay home." I couldn't believe that, in 2012, we were sitting in a classroom saying such things.  I believe that women have the choice to stay home and raise a family--but that they also have the choice to have a career or anything else they dream of doing.

The next day, I went to the We Say "NO!" to Violence Against Women service. There were strong women there--wonderful singers and speakers and activists. Yet there were also men, both in the pews and at the lectern. It was such a powerful, yet tacit message: this is not a battle for women alone. We have allies. Fighting violence against women will only be successful if we have the involvement of both genders. 

And then there is today, International Women's Day. The media is filled with reports on the quality of life for women across the globe; some of the news is heartening, while some of it is heartbreaking. Women in the USA aren't as well off as women in Iceland, the leader of the pack. But we are in a much better place than our sisters in Yemen, at the bottom of the list.

Taken together, this week has made me dwell on the reality of being a woman in 2012. Our world is  now more than a decade into the second millennium. Women have made huge strides in terms of gaining equality. But there are still plenty of problems, things like sexual assault and violence, that are far from being solved.    

And this is where God comes in. As all of us--men, women, people everywhere--exist and fight for rights together, I hope that we remember that we are all children of God. To him, his sons and daughters are equally cared for. We are a family, and families take care of and respect their members. And above all--they love each other.

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