The dignity of each of us demands the dignity of all of us.
I consider myself a feminist and a progressive. I celebrate diversity and work against sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, agism, or any practices that hinder the full access of any person to the resources, institutions and activities of society and a voice in decisions that affect their lives. I seek to practice respect for the human dignity of every person.
That means everyone. It is as unconscionable to hate men for being men as to hate women for being women; it is as wrong to regard all whites as evil as it is to regard all people of color as evil; it is as destructive to deny any social power to anyone who has an income over poverty level or an education past fifth grade as it is to deny social power to the poor or to those without documented formal education.
It is also just as wrong for feminists to dictate to all women how they should live as it is for anyone else to do so. It is possible to be a wife and a mother and be a feminist. It is possible to be a Christian and be a feminist. It is possible to work at home, raising one's own children, and be a feminist.
Not all charges of rape, sexual harassment or sexual molestation are automatically true, any more than all of them are automatically false. The lives of men, women and children have been ruined by these crimes; they have also been ruined by false charges of these crimes. A true regard for social justice demands that we consider anyone innocent until proven guilty; that we be as passionate to defend victims when they are adult males; that we be as passionate to defend those falsely accused of sex crimes as we are to defend Leonard Peltier. A true regard for victims demands that we do not encourage vindictiveness, nor harm the credibility of true victims by lending credibility to false charges.
Censorship is a vastly greater danger to human rights than pornography is. Women have a right to choose what they will read and participate in: Period. If women want to read pornography or participate in any portion of "the sex industry" we have a right to do so. I want to be protected against being forced into prostitution or stripping or sex films: I do not want to be protected against choosing such actions. Women who choose these activities have all the human rights that anyone else does and should be protected against violence.
Protecting children against participation in pornography is a social responsibility. Protecting them against exposure to pornography is not. Parents (or other guardians) ae responsible for teaching their children the sexual ethics they want them to follow. They cannot demand that society at large enforce their personal sexual ethics as an example to their children.
I believe that men and women, Blacks and whites, people in poverty and people in the middle classes and many people in higher incomes, small businessmen and single mothers on Aid to Dependent Children, Christians and non-Christians, can all be allies in the struggle for social and economic justice.
There are some who claim that holding these beliefs makes me "not really a feminist." I say that is as shaky an argument as telling me that because I do not believe in the damnation of infants who die without Baptism I am "not really a Christian." I may not be your kind of feminist. I certainly am my kind.
I believe in and work for the full rights and dignity of all women; the full participation of women in public processes and institutional power; full access by women to public resources; full control of women over their own lives.
As I believe in and work for those things for every other human being.
Related Page: Heterosexism
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Last updated November 30, 2002