Because I Am a Woman

I am so angry today because I am a woman and a mother of three daughters. I am so angry today because my mother, one of seven, six of them girls, was the only one in her family to finish college and then earn a master’s degree, and she did so by defying her mother who wrote an anti-education letter to the university to deter her from making that choice (for which my mother won a feminism scholarship). In 1972.

I am so angry today because I work so hard to be tolerant. The world is filled with every walk of humanity, and they all have rights to carry out their beliefs, whether they be nationalistic, religious, or cultural. But. When those beliefs expect and demand oppression, I am no longer a bleeding heart feminist liberal.

I am just angry.

More than thirty years ago, Audre Lorde wrote the most perfect essay I’ve ever read, “There Is No Hierarchy of Oppression”, in which she eloquently describes my angst: “…among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children, there can be no hierarchies of oppression. I believe that sexism … and heterosexism … both arise from the same source as racism–a belief in the inherent superiority of one ______ over all others and thereby its right to dominance” (1).

I am angry because the police were called. Because Child Protective Services were called. Because they spent less than one afternoon questioning her and her family and brought her back home. She spent today not at school but cooking the meal for her engagement party, henna ceremony, and impending wedding. At age fourteen.

I am angry because it is 2016. Because she lost her mother two months ago. Because her family came here for a future that her father is now denying her. Because we have come too far in this trek for feminism to be taking giant leaps back and putting our girls in a situation of entrapment.

I am angry because my government does nothing to protect children. To protect women. Because an online threat of suicide isn’t enough to PULL. THE. CHILD. AWAY. FROM. HOME.

I am angry because she is me. She is you. She is all of us. She is the caged bird Maya Angelou describes, stalking back and forth in rage. She is the religious martyr who couldn’t stay in Burma because she wasn’t Buddhist. She is the daughter and sister and friend and STUDENT who you wish you had in your life.

I am angry because I am a woman. Because I am a human. Because I am free, and she is not. She is oppressed by sexism, religious zeal, and cultural tradition. And whether you believe in God or support your culture or want to fight for traditional gender roles, none of these things give you the right to oppress another human being.

I am angry because there is no hierarchy of oppression. And when one of us is oppressed, we are all oppressed.

I am so angry today. And I will still be angry tomorrow. And the next day. And every day forever after, as long as I am a witness to oppression.

Because I am a woman. Because I am a human. Because this needs to stop.

Help me. Help me make it stop.

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