In modern times, there has been an ongoing debate about what it truly means to be a feminist. The technical definition of feminism according to Merriam-Webster is simply this: “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities”.
But when it comes to what those “equal rights and opportunities” are? That’s where things get a little messy.
Currently, there is a sentiment that insinuates someone cannot be both a feminist and pro-life. The most recent example is the Women’s March that took place one day after the inauguration of our 45th president. Their pro-choice stance in many ways insinuated that being both pro-life and a feminist is a contradiction.
And yet, as a feminist and as a pro-life advocate, I stood in solidarity with the Women’s March, just as I stand with all feminists and women around the world. There are far too many “rights and opportunities” that women are lacking, and far too much work yet to be done for me to sit idle.
Access to Birth Control
One major point of irony in the political philosophies of the right is that while they deem themselves “pro-life”, they are often opposed to easy access to birth control and healthcare for our nation’s women.
Over and over again, studies such as this one from the Washington University School of Medicine have shown that access to free birth control reduces the national abortion rate significantly. And let’s face it — no one likes high rates of abortion, regardless of whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life. Both sides of the aisle should be fighting for wider access to healthcare for women and reducing the abortion rate, as these two things go hand in hand.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
In today’s modern and global economy, women make up nearly half of the US workforce. At the same time, more and more women are fighting for — and winning — jobs and positions that are traditionally held by men. And yet, as recent as 2014, women were making only 79 cents for every dollar men make. All of this is in spite of the fact that both men and women are doing substantially equal work.
Not only is this an injustice to the hard working women of our country, but it’s also an injustice to our families and children. Closing this wage gap and putting an end to discrimination in the workplace is non-negotiable — and we must hold our elected officials accountable to action.
Paid Maternity Leave
When it comes to maternity leave, the US ranks pitifully. As our friend POTUS 44, Barack Obama, reminded us: the United States is “the only advanced country on Earth” that doesn’t guarantee “paid maternity leave to our workers.”
Research has shown that paid maternity leave for women leads to happier and healthier babies and moms, with fewer cases of postpartum depression and newborn mortality, and higher rates of breastfeeding.
We are the only industrialized nation on this planet that forces a new mother to choose between her newborn child and returning to work. And that is simply unacceptable.
Despite the pro-choice stance of so many feminists, I continue to stand in solidarity with them. There are far too many issues that affect women that must be addressed — access to affordable child care, justice for sexual assault victims, equal opportunities for education, human trafficking — all in addition to those I already mentioned above.
Yes, I am pro-life, and yes, I proudly call myself a “feminist.” There is much work to be done, friends — may we embrace unity and reject division in every form.
“What unites us is far greater than what divides us.” — President John F. Kennedy