“How can you say to a brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite!” This scripture points out the hypocrisy in our society.
This past weekend was eventful because of two important things that happened. First, we witnessed the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America. However, across the world the very next day, overwhelming crowds of women protested in the Million Women’s March.
The women’s protests happened concurrently in major cities including Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Boston, London, Paris, Melbourne, Tel Aviv, Barcelona and more. But what really were these women protesting, and why do some people feel so irritated and offended by their march? The truth is, all these protesters want is an end to the patriarchy’s systemic practices that subjugate, marginalize and disparage their gender.
The American protests were particularly ignited by the fear that their new president would not promote issues that empower women considering the divisive and disparaging language with which he described women and other minorities during his election campaigns.
These women want to be left alone to make the important choices about their reproduction and sexuality. They also want truly equal opportunities to attain the highest positions possible within their workplaces. Additionally, they want an end to public policies that overtly and covertly promote the thinking that women belong to the home. I thought these were sensible demands until the barrage of criticisms started pouring in.
Men, and sadly some women, started pointing out how especially the demand to make one’s own choices about their reproductive health violates God’s word and the values of American nationhood. Even other women quickly came out with the chant, “I’m a woman and these women don’t represent me.” I must confess that this attitude doesn’t surprise me, given how hypocritical our society is. We suddenly become saints when it comes to what others do, but we won’t hold ourselves to the same level of accountability.
If only we’d condemn our own fornication, adultery, cheating and deceitful behavior, or covetousness, and you can add more! After all, the same Bible condemns these behaviors.
America is a secular country. It is true that Christians are in the majority, but, ultimately, it is a country of people from varying faiths and backgrounds. These different people pay the same taxes you pay, so they expect their president and lawmakers to protect them just as much as you expect to be protected. So how is it justifiable to ask government to use its coercive power to legislate everyone into following one set of values—your values—while ignoring theirs? I’m a Christian and, in many ways, consider myself a conservative. Yet, I won’t expect everyone to share my values and beliefs, even when they don’t want to. That attitude is undemocratic. We should realize that, when it comes to what people do with their lives, our personal values and opinions are immaterial.
So it’s all right for a woman to think that her fellow woman shouldn’t have the right to make choices that affect her own life. It’s OK to even think that women are better housewives than corporate executives. It’s all right to say that the women who marched on Jan. 21 did not represent you. But while you’re at it, don’t expect everyone to support or validate your values as the one best behavior.
It’s the different views and values of the millions of citizens of this country that make it a great and exemplary democracy.
Philemon Abayateye is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography and Planning and the IC’s Opinion Editor.