We all have them, and we all place them on others. In a previous post, I identified with three: stay-at-home mom, wife, and feminist. While others may label me differently, those are the three that I chose for myself. Just because I identify with those labels, though, doesn’t mean that is all I am; I am also: female, heterosexual, egalitarian, Christian, friend, sister, daughter, writer, runner, coffee-enthusiast (and sometimes snob), dessert fanatic, Dr. Pepper lover, meat-eater… do you get where I’m going with this?
There is a lot that goes into making a person. We are all very dynamic, complex creatures. We have sayings such as, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, and “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”; all because at some point in life, we’re supposed to realize that a person is so much more than what you see on the surface. Unfortunately, we continually fail at this.
In our culture, we have a tendency to focus in on one aspect of a person, and then forever disregard everything else about them, either because we don’t like that one thing, or because we don’t agree with it. Some of you may have seen that I’m a stay-at-home mom, and decided I have nothing important to say about politics. Some of you may have seen that I eat meat, and decided that I have no care for animals. Others of you may have seen that I love sweets, and decided that healthy living is not in my vocabulary. And then, there are probably some of you that saw I identified myself as Christian, and didn’t get past the first paragraph.
But isn’t one of the goals in maturity to move past this? To acknowledge the fault in our perception of people? To know that there is more to someone than meets the eye, and that we shouldn’t disregard them just because we do not fully agree with them?
Recently, I was sent an article about Gloria Steinem being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The author labeled her as an abortion activist, which is true, but he reported as if Steinem was being awarded solely for her work with abortion. The author even went so far as to say Steinem has dedicated her life to promoting abortion.
Only one aspect of Steinem’s life was focused on in this article, and it disregarded all the other parts. The author’s disagreement with her personal stance on abortion took away from what was a pivotal moment in Steinem’s life. I feel sorry for this man, because he was not able to recognize that the Presidential Medal of Freedom was, in fact, to acknowledge a woman’s incredible work in gender equality.
Gloria Steinem is a pioneer for feminism. Steinem fought for women to have equal hire and equal pay in the work place. She even fought for affordable childcare, so that women have a greater opportunity to work outside the home (if that is their desire).
Steinem has constantly been challenging our society’s perception of what it means to be a female–and what it also means to be a male, for that matter. Just because someone is female does not mean they must be a stay-at-home mom. Likewise, just because someone is male, does not mean they must work outside of the home. Her life’s work is for ALL to have a voice and a choice in how they live life, and to not be held down by society’s gender expectations.
A part of Gloria Steinem’s life work does include abortion activism, which yes, is it at odds with my beliefs. But, I am choosing to not disregard all of her other accomplishments, just because my beliefs do not 100% align with hers.
What I do believe in, is giving credit where credit is due. And Gloria Steinem truly deserved the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work in gender equality.