Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to Fight

In the wake of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling, I was angry.  When I get angry, I tend to do something about it.  Being completely powerless in this particular situation (I have not yet been chosen as a Supreme Court justice.  An oversight, I'm sure.), but still believing that dissenting voices should be heard, I posted something online.

Who cares, right?  Everybody posts things to social media.  That's why it was created.

It does make for a great tool, though.  It helps to let our representatives know the general feeling of their constituency.  It also helps to engage people in debate over issues that are effecting their lives.  Or not effecting their lives at all, if you just like to troll.  Either way, these debates have value.  Bringing attention to important topics, and presenting two well thought out and fact based sides to an argument is never a bad thing. Who knows, it may even lead to a more informed, less TMZ focused voter population.  (Hopefully.)

The point I'm making is this:  I'm all for speaking your mind.  I'm all for screaming your opinions from the rooftops, the soapbox, or the Facebook post.  Let your voice be heard.  Just don't be an asshole about it.

There has never been a time in our country's history when our citizens have had their voices silenced.  We can speak out against government decisions.  We can speak out against churches.  We can speak out against our neighbors.  It's a right we are entitled to.  And it's pretty awesome.

Regardless of the sides taken, I love that people are exercising this right.  I also love that you don't have to hold any qualifications to form your opinions.  You don't have to be an expert to share your thoughts.  And most of us aren't.  None of us knows everything.  Not one of us is able to divine the perfect answers to all the tough questions we're faced with.  Which is why I find it so odd that people resort to whining, calling names, and hurling insults while debating.  It's not helpful, and no one gains from it.

I've read some follow-up stories that have been published since the decision.  I've seen so many posts on the topic.  (Because I don't live under a rock.  Really.  Can this stuff be avoided?)

Some have been thought provoking:
When my daughter grows up, I hope she becomes a corporation.

Some have been less so:
I assure you, we aren't all thinking that.
I find this one from Planned Parenthood Action especially sad and unhelpful.  Here's why: the second you say you "deserve" something, you've basically resorted to that whiny voice kids use when they'd like to stay up past bedtime or want a second cookie.  "But moooom, I ate all my veggies.  I deserve it!"

People don't deserve things.  Ever.  People work for things.  Women don't "deserve birth control" coverage.  They've earned it.  It is compensation for doing their jobs.  Ladies, if you're going to fight, then fight.  If you're whining, you've lost the argument.

As for the insults, and there have been many, the most frequent I've seen in the comment sections of these articles, and everything ever published online actually, is "you're stupid" or ignorant, or dumb, etc.  (Only, let's be honest, it's almost always "your stupid" isn't it?  Those in glass houses...)  This seems to be an internet argument classic.  You're backed into an intellectual corner?  Come out swinging with a "You're so stupid!"  That'll teach 'em.

Holding a different opinion than someone doesn't mean the other party is stupid.  While failing to present facts or argue a logical point, and turning to insults may not mean you're stupid, it certainly makes you look that way.   If calling someone dumb is your ace in the hole, you've lost the argument.

I've also seen some insults that seem to only come from one side of the conversation.  That's the belittling of religious beliefs.  Weird coming from me, I'm aware.  I am a huge proponent of people keeping their religions out of my personal affairs.  I do not think religions should get to make reproductive decisions for everyone, just as I don't think that Jenny McCarthy should get to make vaccination decisions for everyone.  That doesn't mean that I don't respect the role religion plays in the lives of many people I know and love.  It's not for me, but that doesn't mean it can't be for them.  Calling deeply held religious beliefs "whims" is horribly insulting.  If you're belittling someone because of their religious beliefs, you are a bigot, and you've lost the argument.

Up to this point, the fan favorite of ineffective debating seems to be the name calling.  Or in this particular situation,  the slut shaming.  Seriously, America?  Women who are on birth control are all sluts who should just keep their legs closed?  Ask your mom if she's ever used birth control.  Ask your sisters.  Ask your daughters.  Then, if slut shaming is still all you have to contribute to the debate, shut up and read something.  If "just stop having sex" or "You're a whore!" (or implying that a woman's rights or opinions don't matter because they would like to have sex for reasons other than procreation) are the points you're trying to make, you've lost the argument.

Sadly, most of the name calling and insulting I've noticed over the course of the week has come from women.  I don't know why that is.  I don't know if there is some deep reason for it, like we don't teach our girls to be assertive the way we teach our boys.  I don't know if it's because women are more emotional, or if it's that the cause hits closer to home for women.  I really couldn't say.  But it's troubling.  

Personally, I feel that calling names and insulting people would only serve to make me look petty.  It would do nothing to further the conversation.  It certainly wouldn't help ensure contraceptive coverage for the women who work for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga.  And, it would do absolutely nothing to force people to take my voice in debate seriously.  

Its all too easy to disregard a woman's voice.  She's angry?  It's probably just PMS.  Before that it was Female Hysteria, which could be diagnosed simply by asking a husband or father if a girl had a tendency toward speaking out or causing trouble.  (Um???)  This is why I'm begging:  Please women and girls, please, fight like you mean it.  No whining.  No name calling.  No insults.  Use facts and logics.  Separate the issues from the emotions.  Speak out, but listen too.  Don't take things personally, and don't get personal.  Do not give people a reason to tune you out.  

In the Facebook battle I accidentally waged on Monday, I was debating two men whom I happen to love dearly.  Two of my favorite people on the planet, in fact.  They think I am terribly misguided, and I think they are as wrong as anything, but I respect them.  I don't think they're stupid.  I don't think they're evil.  I don't think they're happy that some working women in our country can't afford to buy birth control out of pocket.  I just think they have a different opinion than I do.  AND THAT'S OK.  It doesn't fill me with hate or rage.  It just means family dinners might be interesting.  That's all.

Their team won this time.  It's done.  We can explain rationally, and without vitriol, why we think the Supreme Court made the wrong choice.  But beyond that, there's not a lot to be done.  Except contacting your representatives...