Two days ago, while touring the Boardroom I had reserved for TWHP’s upcoming Staff Advance at a building down the street, a thought struck me: are women’s rights considered a women’s issue?
Sarah and I were walking into the Planned Parenthood building literally right down the block, where the Staff Advance will be held, when we met a custodial worker who had also worked in the same building as The White House Project at their previous Manhattan location. He remembered an employee of the company and asked about our transition to our new space. He ended up showing us around the boardroom we rented, demonstrating how to use the projector and showing us the rooftop space where we could eat our meals. As we were talking about the differences between Planned Parenthood’s building and our own new one, somehow we brought up how our company is 100% women at the moment. He could relate, he said, as Planned Parenthood is a very high majority of women, and the groups that they meet in the conference room very rarely have a male. He then said that this made sense, as the nature of what Planned Parenthood does on a daily basis is deal with “women’s issues”.
This bothered me more than I thought it would- because, to be fair, primarily women utilize the resources of Planned Parenthood. However, simply based on my previous knowledge of the issue Planned Parenthood prominently deals with- abortion- I was genuinely offended that he called such an issue one that only women are concerned about. The right to an abortion is, I believe, a right that everyone should have. The option should be available to all women. I believe in Planned Parenthood’s cause, but it is not because I myself am planning on utilizing the service. I believe that the government does not have the right to decide whether or not all women have the option, and that is what I believe in protecting: the right to have a choice. I think that men can just as passionately believe that women should have this right, and can just as fiercely fight for it.
A large part of the issue that TWHP and other women-focused groups face is the cultural perception of women as mothers or the fairer sex, whereas men are corporate leaders and Presidents. In order to change this societal view, alter century-long conceptions of gender roles, it will take support from both women and men. Gender equality and women’s rights are not a “women’s issue”- just as racism was not the black community’s issue. It is a global issue, one that affects all of us, one that needs support from the other 50% of the population in order to have a measureable effect.