It’s International Women’s Day. And in honor of women across the globe, we think it’s time to have a discussion about some changes we need to make here at home. There’s been a lot of buzz lately about a political commentator calling a young female lawyer who testified before congress a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she was advocating for wider, more affordable access to birth control. There was a snafu on our Facebook page earlier this week about it, too. And while we didn’t intend to spark a politically charged conversation, what we saw in response, fans and friends making angry and, too often, unkind and disrespectful comments to each other, made us take a big step back.
The Pink Cart team started asking each other, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ And we didn’t debate about what political party was responsible, or try to settle it by placing blame on the countless people from varying political and social backgrounds who have said these things about many women in the past. Instead, we had a conversation. We opened up our hearts and told each other that as women, this upset us. As mothers and aunts and sisters, we are so deeply saddened and frustrated by how women are disrespected and degraded when they take a stand for themselves and their families. As women who live in America, we so desperately want this to change. As citizens, we want our political, social, personal and professional communities to be places where we can stand up, speak our minds, disagree, and still treat one another with respect and dignity. As human beings, we want it to be common-place to honor the courage it takes to speak up in the first place and not use it against each other.
We heard Betty Ford’s daughter give a speech this week about her mother’s advocacy for herself, her family, and for women in the public sphere, women dealing with addiction, and, as we are so very aware, women who are faced with the diagnosis of breast cancer. She blazed a trail for women to be public and vulnerable about this disease without shame or embarrassment - something we take for granted today when we sport Pink Ribbons and Pink Carts as symbols of strength, pride, and tribute. She did not resort to name calling and blame in order to get her point across. As her daughter Susan shared with us, Mrs. Ford’s advocacy had such a powerful impact because it was bold, direct, truthful, honest, and because she consciously chose to raise these issues in a way that challenges us all to think about what is possible when we advocate for change with grace, with courtesy, and with respect.
So, when you roll your Pink Cart to the curb on trash day this week, think of it as an opportunity to throw away the ‘garbage’ that we see every day. Let’s open the lid and pitch our history of accepting the degradation of women in the media and in our society as a whole. Let’s toss in the legacy of fighting each other, of separating ourselves into opposing sides. We have the choice to recycle our negativity towards one another and repurpose our convictions to be inspiration for achieving change through strong, honest, and respectful dialogue. Betty Ford helped to create a world where we don’t have to give a second thought to our right to advocate for our health, and she did it with openness and respect. As we continue to work for a world without breast cancer, let’s also keep in our hearts the ways that we can change our world into one without sexism, without cruelty, without disrespect. What better gift could we give to the next generation? How will you help make it happen?