Sunday, October 23, 2016

warning: politics inside

I've struggled with a dilemma in my mind, recently, amid the ocean of political debate happening on social media. I have seen about 20 articles or posts per day that I strongly agree with, and I want to share them all. I don't. I start to post things, and then I don't. I want to stay out of political debates, especially on social media. I, just like everyone else, really wish I could change the minds of those I disagree with by participating in social media banter. But I know that's not likely. There are millions of people out there sharing a lot of words; what makes my words any different?

I've been having a dilemma in my mind recently. I can't stand the political debates taking place right now on social media, in which people feel like they can say anything to the great cyber world, and not really changing anyone's minds about anything.. just losing friends and respect and all of the above. At the same time, I really believe it's not ok to not stay silent about things that matter. I admire bold posts by my friends speaking out with fierce and open hearts. I'm thankful for them.

So, unlike certain political candidates right now, I don't want to be loud-mouthed. I won't force my thoughts or opinions or ANYTHING on anyone. Because I respect you. So I figure, if you've made it this far, you might actually be interested in hearing my thoughts.

It is astounding to me how many of the issues being pulled back and forth in the name of politics are directly about women. Whether it's the refugee issue - because an astonishingly high proportion of refugees being granted asylum are moms with kids - or the pro life/pro choice issue, the list goes on.

I got a degree in sociology first, then one in global political science. Why? Because I love the way in which looking at issues through a sociological lens can inform the political debate. Sociology looks at groups of people and ask why things are the way they are. This provides a much more holistic, well-rounded, and colorful approach to political issues, which are often presented in black and white. It has been my practice, with any issue I have studied or worked with, to look for ways in which the issue can be prevented in the first place.

Unfortunately, I hate debating. So all you're going to get from me in this internal dialogue that I'm throwing out here in my little sliver of the internet. First off - I am not saying here that abortion should be made legal. I am challenging us all to look deeper in this issue. To look for solutions that do not depend on political candidates.

Let's dream a little here. Let's picture a world where we all unanimously agree that it's never ok for anyone at all to make degrading remarks about women -at all. Where remarks alluding to assault on anyone at all would never be attempted to be justified. Where celebrities or politicians would never make these remarks because, rather than feeding their ego, would be so socially unacceptable that they would lose public and/or personal legitimacy.

Could it be said that the candidate who made/makes these remarks clearly thinks and speaks about women in a manner that perpetuates a cultural environment in which women are pressured to act and look and dress and "perform" in such a way that leads to unwanted pregnancies?

Let's imagine world in which abortions became very uncommon, not because of politics and issues of legality or illegality, but because women were not pressured into unwanted physical situations, or because they had easy access to reproductive and family planning options, or felt confidant that they would have the resources to raise their baby well, such as paid leave and affordable childcare. Where young women in poverty don't feel like they have to be in relationships that lead to pregnancies for economic support just to survive, where vulnerable women in poverty -affected communities are empowered to pursue a future where they are able to simultaneously build a successful career and family, if they so desire.

I think that most people would agree that, while potentially unrealistic, this would be great. But if it's what we want to see, isn't that what we should be working towards? More than policy, however, it would require a degree of cultural change. And cultural change is much more difficult than shifts in political policy... but legality and illegality in a myriad of issues will never solve the problem unless you look for the cause of the problem and ask how it can be resolved.

So, I'm not trying to change anyone's political opinions, I know that internet rants are a really terrible and ineffective way to try to do that.

I have a lot of thoughts on a lot of other issues as well, I just needed to get this out of my head and into words.

Please remember your right to vote third party or to write in your vote. This election will be one in which third party votes hold a lot of power. Don't vote for Trump just because you hate Clinton. Likewise, don't vote for Clinton just because you hate Trump. (Note that I am not saying who I will vote for; I feel like that would be divisive). Let's go about politics with intelligence and solidarity.

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