I struggle a lot with Freedom of Speech and feminism.
In June of 2014 the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that banned protesters within 35 feet of abortion clinics. They saw this law as a violation of the protester’s First Amendment rights.
And I agreed.
I feel like I have some ground to stand on here since I’ve had an abortion. Though I only had one miserable looking protester ask me about Jesus on the way in, I wasn’t terribly worried about it.
In general I completely respect protesters rights to express their beliefs. I knew what I believed and nothing short of the apocalypse would’ve kept me from that procedure.
When asked why I am such a supporter of the Supreme Court’s decision, I respond that I believe feminism should not advance the rights of women by crushing the rights of others. It should be about raising women strong enough to walk past protesters.
Then a week or so ago someone wore a #meninist shirt to the office and I thought I was going to light him and his rights on fire. (Sidenote: violence is very likely not the answer)
Yes, there is a difference between wearing a very sexist shirt in a place of work (where equality and cohesiveness are important) and protesting at an abortion clinic. However, I work in a really creative and free environment and putting limits on someone’s personal expression feels wrong to me in both situations.
After several days of mulling over the situation I concluded that while I hate the message, ultimately I do support his right to wear that shirt. I also resolved that I respect my right to tell him that it’s offensive. If he still wears it, then he’s just announcing himself as an asshole. But maybe, if I explain to him why the shirt is offensive (and I could be going all “idealist” here) but just maybe he’ll stop wearing it.
There is an issue in society where people draw a disconnect between what kind of sexism is acceptable. The people at the abortion clinic fight for a cause they believe they’re educated in. This dude was wearing a shirt promoting what started as a sexist online joke. The protesters are labeled “crazy”, but this guy is just “kidding”. The fact of the matter is It’s all sexism, it’s hateful, it’s ignorant and there is no difference.
Hate is hate. Whether your tossing a pamphlet in my face with a dead fetus on it, or joking about revenge porn and equality it’s still sexism.
I can only hope that by being a Proud Feminist Killjoy and exercising my own Freedom of Speech just as loudly, eventually sexism will not be acceptable in any form.