By Sue Saltmarsh
I was perusing “News from The Body” and read the following: "Last time I heard, all men had an "X" chromosome, which means that there was a woman involved in the creation of every one of them," blogger and HIV nurse practitioner Bethsheba Johnson writes. "Shouldn't men be advocates of all and not just their own gender?"
My initial response was to wonder how she could have missed that a man (the sperm had to come from one of them, after all) was also involved in that creation. But then, I thought couldn’t such biological criteria be used to plead the case for the opposite side of every agenda? Women have testosterone too and yet the number of female-only causes far outweighs male-only ones - in many cases, overriding them completely. At this stage of human history, I doubt that there is any black or white person who doesn’t carry a gene inherited from an ancestor of the other color and yet we insist on segregation from both sides. And, as I’ve said before, aren’t people who develop cancer after years of chain smoking just as deserving of the medical care and treatment they need to survive as people who acquire HIV after years of unprotected sex with multiple partners?
When feminists angrily accuse me of misogyny, I respond that I believe that BOTH sexes are as valuable and as worthy of living as the other. And yet, if a man published a calendar called “How is a jar of Vaseline better than a woman?” I’ve no doubt he would be verbally castrated by the very women who publish “How is a cucumber better than a man?” And, by the way, there is no word for the female equivalent of misogyny, though it obviously exists in full force.
I have frequently been amazed by the number of commercials on PBS and other progressive media sources that tout the urgent need to get more girls to become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. What about the boys who are truly passionate about math and science? Are they somehow less valuable than a girl would be? And where are the commercials urging more boys to become nurses, teachers, and dancers? Fact is that each sex has natural tendencies and the problem is not in getting them to go against those natural leanings, but in the rest of us accepting whatever choices are made. As a former girl, I can tell you that there is nothing on Earth that could’ve induced me to become a scientist, engineer, or mathematician. I hated math and science and did everything I could to avoid them. Why should I have been forced into a field I had no interest in? Why should any boy be forced to take Home Ec over Shop or vice versa against his own interest?
I have great respect for Bethsheba Johnson, a well known leader in Chicago’s HIV community, but I would ask her why women shouldn’t support prostate cancer research the way men participate in breast cancer walks. Why shouldn’t there be a female senator introducing the “Boys Protection Act” as Harry Reid, a man, introduced the “Girls Protection Act”? Have we not learned from decades of child sexual abuse scandals that both girls and boys are vulnerable to rape?
Throughout history, there have been courageous activists of both sexes fighting for things that were good for everybody. Without Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the issue of women's right to vote might never have come to the forefront, but it took 56 men in Congress to pass the amendment that gave women that right. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were crucial leaders in the civil rights movement, but it was Lyndon Johnson, a white guy from Texas, who made it the law of the land.
We need to stop putting each other in neat little boxes. People, every sex, every race, every religion, every size, with every illness—people, each with his or her own story, have to decide for themselves what it is that’s worth fighting for in this lifetime. Right now, we have a lot of people, many who call themselves Christians and/or Republicans, deciding that the only thing worth fighting for is whatever goes against everyone else. But, lucky for us, we now also have more, including some Christian/Republicans,—hundreds of thousands, if not millions—waking up, shaking off complacency, and standing together in all their glorious varieties to fight for justice, equality, and the things that are best for the Whole.
“Shouldn’t men be advocates of all and not just their own gender?" Shouldn’t women? Shouldn’t we all? Regardless of the composition of our chromosomes, we are all human. None of us would be here without the contributions of both male and female. And as human beings, we need to allow each other to pick what we want to experience from the menu life presents. So I propose we stop being “feminists” or “masculinists” (see? not even a word!) and do our best to become humanists.
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