Recently, a blog post written by Dina Leygerman, an apparent women’s rights activist and big supporter of the recent women’s marches, has been shared all over the internet, including a few times on my Facebook feed. It’s called “You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry.” The piece is Dina’s response to a recent social media post shared by many women that do not support the women’s marches. She provides an impressive list of accomplished females in history to educate all of us on who fought for our rights before us and follows that with the reminder, “You did nothing to earn those rights.” She continues, “And you sit on your pedestal, a pedestal you are fortunate enough to have, and type. A keyboard warrior. A fighter for complacency. An acceptor of what you were given. A denier of facts. Wrapped up in your delusion of equality.”
This is my response to Ms. Leygerman…
As a strong supporter of women’s rights, one might assume that you believe in building other women up, but your post comes off as quite the contrary. Although I am not one of the women that shared the social media post that you responded to, I felt compelled to reply to you and offer you a bit of insight and advice, if I may. You see, I have two brothers, one of which I actually work with, along with our father, one step-brother, am married to a good man and have an incredible son. I also have lovely females in my life, including my very own daughter, but the larger percentage of people that I’m extremely close to are males. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by men my entire life that not only care about me and love me, but that also treat me with respect as their equal. Lucky me, right? To say that I’m thankful for my loved ones and the experiences we’ve shared is certainly an understatement. I’ve had my share of darkness, believe me. And some of that darkness did involve men. But the light from “the good guys” shines so bright that I choose to bask in it and receive it. In fact, Dina, the only person that’s ever told me I’m not equal…is you.
I know, I know, not every gal has it this good. Either I’m delusional or the luckiest female ever, right? But, actually, it’s neither. I know about hurt. I know about loss. I know about hard work. I know about fighting. I recognize that even beyond any of my own obstacles and struggles that the females surrounding me and also the ones that are strangers have had their share of obstacles and struggles, some much greater than mine. I’ve cried tears for myself, for females I love and for females I don’t even know.
As for the ladies that you were responding to, I know those ladies. And if I may speak on their behalf, I’d say that your response to them simply added fuel to their fire. If you want to get through to women that don’t think the exact same way you do, you’re going to have to work on your communication skills. Some kindness and compassion never hurts either. You call them “keyboard warriors” in your blog post…that you typed…on a keyboard…in private. But to your credit, if they’re going to battle against you via keyboard, they’re up for a hell of a fight. Hey, I didn’t agree with every single word that they copied and pasted. Just like I don’t agree with every single word that you wrote in response. The difference between you and me, Dina, is that my response is an effort to shed light, spread hope and call for peace. Yours reads as negative, insulting, pessimistic and downright rude, at times. The woman you called complacent and delusional and in denial has suffered heart break and loss and miscarriages and career defeat and broken bones and heavy periods (using her taxed sanitary supplies, of course). She has fought, in her own way, against demons and villains and even the government. She is smart and not under some false impression that life is all sunshine and rainbows.
You see, Dina, every woman (and man) fights for something every day. Some fight for their job, some fight for their relationship, some fight for their child and some fight to simply stay alive. Just because their fight isn’t the exact same as yours doesn’t make it any less of a fight. They may even have the same fight as you, but just different fighting style. You said, “I will walk for you. I will walk for your daughter.” To that I say, thanks, but no thanks. I didn’t ask for a warrior or a martyr or even a favor from you. And I certainly don’t need you doing anything for my daughter. If you’re going to announce to the oppressed women (your words) of the United States how much you helped them and their children’s futures, even though they did nothing productive in the process, then you certainly shouldn’t expect any thank you letters. That’s not how helping and giving and supporting works. There are thousands of women that participated in those marches that didn’t follow it up with a harsh “You’re welcome!” like you did. While you were out marching and doing what your heart called you to do, another woman was caring for her sick child. Another one was helping her kiddo with counting because he is struggling in school. And another one was grieving the loss of her mother. You were all doing very important things that day.
What’s happened with women on both sides of these issues is like a super-sized version of Mean Girls. You know the parts where Cady sees everyone transform into animals where they’re, um, acting like animals? Yeah. How about we all take our passion and channel it into our own stuff and avoid acting like animals to each other? (Although, at this point, I’m thinking some animals would be nicer to each other than U.S. Citizens have been lately.)
Maybe your “equality is an illusion”, Dina, but that’s not the case for everyone else. There are people that feel better about their lives than you do and people that feel worse about their lives than you do. And, you know what? That’s okay.
If you go on fighting with the intention of fighting someone else’s fight on their behalf, you’re going to lose every time. The only exception to this rule, of course, is our children, whom we fight for every day in one way or another. My daughter’s name is Romy. She’s amazing. She’s smart and emotional and funny and beautiful…and equal. The statistics you mentioned may not reflect that Romy is equal to every one else, but in our home, in our world and in the world I will help her build, she is. Never will I tell her the things that you told the women of America. She is what she says she is. I am what I say I am. We are what we say we are.
Are things perfect? Nope. Can we all help improve things? Yep. Do you have every right to go and march and stand up for what’s most important to you? Of course. But do it with focus and kindness. Use your talent with words to write letters to politicians and to lift women up. Fight for your own beliefs and for those who don’t have a voice. And sometimes, you should bask in that light I talked about…just for a minute…just to cleanse your soul…before you go back into battle.