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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 2 years ago

Chris Jepson: Feminism forever

I consider myself a feminist, and think any man who isn't as either ignorant or a chauvinist.
by: Chris Jepson Staff Writer

“Free Melania!” was my favorite poster at last Saturday’s Orlando Women’s March. A woman with a playful smile and obvious sense of humor held the sign and eagerly lifted it aloft for me to photograph. I gave her a thumbs-up.

Along that same line of humor, you might recall that Melania Trump handed Michelle Obama a Tiffany blue box at the inaugural ceremonies. Later it is shown opened and in large handwritten words are the plea, “Help Me!” Too funny.

I consider myself a feminist, and think any man who isn’t as either ignorant or a chauvinist. We could quibble over whether ignorance is a mitigating factor when it comes to chauvinism; I’m inclined to think no, not really. Either you consider women equal to men or you do not.

I stood by the Planned Parenthood table for a while and struck up a conversation with four or five women who were listening to the keynote speeches being broadcast over the public address system. I asked them as a group, why do not all women consider themselves feminists? They were as perplexed as I. A somewhat heated argument ensued with one woman when I started the following comment with, “When a woman is forced to confront an unwanted pregnancy . . .”

I was immediately upbraided for not including the male factor (responsibility and accountability) in any pregnancy. In such exchanges I quickly employ Gottfried Leibniz’s line “in the best of all possible worlds.” In this instance, “Yes, of course, in the best of all possible worlds, all men would be responsible adults, would practice failsafe birth control and if confronted with an unwanted pregnancy would do the ‘right’ thing.” Alas, sigh, that is not necessarily the human experience. Mistakes happen. Men can be cowards.

And, as we all know, women everyday are forced to confront unwanted pregnancies. Who then should determine for any woman her course of action? The man? The state? Unequivocally, it is the individual woman herself who will, who must determine for herself her reproductive choices. My interlocutor aggressively re-emphasized the male accountability argument and I began thinking, “Hmmm, time to move on” when fortuitously one of the other women asked if I knew where the restrooms were. I pointed, smiled and moved on to the NOW table.

The Women’s Rally was about reproductive choice and Republican efforts to marginalize women by appropriating, for the state, control of a woman’s reproductive options. Donald Trump, Mr. Faux President, he of post-truth, of “alternative fact” fame, has sworn to overturn a woman’s right to reproductive choice (Roe v. Wade). But the Rally was more than just about women’s reproductive rights. It was concerned with equal rights for women period. In the workplace. In the home. On the streets. Anywhere, anytime in America.

The League of Women Voters of Orange County was represented at the Rally, standing resolute for — and encouraging — the power of citizen participation in government. A respectful and appreciative tip-of-the-hat to the League.

What I most enjoyed about the Rally was the overall uplifting vibe. It was joyful. It was encouraging. It was creative. It was essentially a feminine expression of solidarity. It was a display of female strength, an evocation, a call for unity to challenge all who would marginalize women and to confront any who would usurp a woman’s exclusive right to own her body and her future.

To liberally paraphrase George Wallace: Feminism now, feminism tomorrow and feminism forever.

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