Saturday, March 14, 2015

Racism, Sexism or Cancer?

On March 10, the topic on the new Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore was women and power.  He has a segment called "Keeping it 100" wherein he asks weird questions designed to put guests on the spot, and then decides whether their answers have been totally honest.

One question was "racism, sexism, or cancer" (minute 18)  if you could eliminate two, and the other would proliferate, which two?  And Wilmore helpfully suggested that one of them should be cancer.

Guest Chloe Hilliard had to agree, and then decided that the other would have to be racism, because that would affect generations.  Or some such nonsense.

That, in a nutshell, is why women continue to be abused, neglected, used and mistreated.  We are half of all those other subgroups yet, after generations of enlightenment, we continue to believe that every other interest group is more important than ours.

I wondered how refusing to keep women safe from abusive partners did not affect children and their futures.  Or denial of a living wage, food stamps and health care did not reverberate into the community and the following years.  Equal pay for equal work?  How about privacy and freedom in deciding about whether to get pregnant, or remain pregnant?  Is the humiliation and suffering brought upon women by social policy really less important than that of other groups (which, again, overlap with the group labeled "women").

There have been short periods -- the fight for suffrage, the women's movement of the 70's -- in which we stood up and proclaimed that we are as important as any other issue.  And then we gained a few rights, thanked those with the power to grant them, and went back to being polite and grateful.

I wonder how bad things will have to get for women, how many women shot or beaten, how many women imprisoned for having abortions -- or killed by back alley ones, how many women sick, starving or homeless before we rise up again and say no to the arguments explaining why we should bow to higher priorities.

Time to stop compromising.  Time to stop trying to prove how reasonable we are based on our moderate and rational requests for the right to abortion and birth control.  Time to stop suffering.

This is how I would have answered the question of "racism, sexism, or cancer."  I would have chosen eliminating racism and sexism.  Because cancer cuts across the board; that means that everyone will be invested in doing something about it.  And none of the rest of us should have to sacrifice our individual rights so other groups can enjoy theirs.

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