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Plenty Woman Newsletter
August 28, 2016
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Thank You, Twitter Haters: Equal Means Equal

On Friday afternoon, I went to a screening of Equal Means Equal, a new documentary about the way women are treated in America. I left awestruck at how entrenched discrimination against women is in this country and I said as much in a tweet that night, with hashtags #WomensEqualityDay and #ERANow.

I don’t have a huge Twitter following so I didn’t expect for that tweet to get much response (if any), but when I looked at my phone later that night, I had more Twitter notifications than usual.

That’s an exciting moment, when you think you may have said something that other people found valuable – and maybe even relatable – enough to respond to. But it wasn’t entirely like that.

Though my post did receive some positive response, it also received criticism, calling me out for being ignorant of the facts and for being a feminist. What it all came down to was them wanting proof that women are discriminated against and, more than anything, they wanted me to react.

I didn’t.

I wish I could say I didn’t respond because I’m the bigger person, but honestly it’s because my anxiety can’t take it. Not only did I doubt my ability to make a good argument, but I hate confrontation and definitely cannot handle the sustained confrontation of swapping tweets with someone who’s looking for a fight. I just wanted it to go away.

Now Patricia Arquette, she can handle it, and thank goodness for it. She’s one of the producers on Equal Means Equal and she knows her shit. I’m sure she cannot possibly respond to all the haters she hears from, but I took a look at Patricia Arquette’s Twitter feed that night and saw that she did take the time to respond to some of them, correcting their errors and offering up resources for them to check out.

I guess it’s okay that I’m not that person, someone who calmly and confidently defends my position to skeptics. But it doesn’t feel okay to shrink away. I felt very small that night, like I was being doubted and put in my place for demanding equal treatment for women.

It felt like shit but, upon reflection, maybe it was kind of good for me. Maybe I should be thanking those Twitter haters for reminding me that bullying doesn’t change the truth.

I’m reminded of the doubt women often receive when they say they’ve been abused by a man who’s “not that kind of person.” Or the judgment women often have to deal with when they’re raped because “if you dress like that, or dance like that, or act like that, you’re asking for it.”

Obviously, my Twitter exchange on Friday night pales in comparison to these horrific scenarios, but I think the underlying thread speaks to the overall message of the film:

“Equal Means Equal offers an unflinching look at how women are treated in the United States today. 

"Examining both real-life stories and precedent-setting legal cases, director Kamala Lopez uncovers how outdated and discriminatory attitudes inform and influence seemingly disparate issues, from workplace harassment to domestic violence, rape and sexual assault to the foster care system, and the healthcare conglomerate to the judicial system.

"Along the way, she reveals the inadequacy of present laws that claim to protect women, ultimately presenting a compelling and persuasive argument for the urgency of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.”

I’m no expert on any of this, but I’m struck by the fact that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. We need the Equal Rights Amendment for that.

I hope you’ll see the film. It’s in limited release but it looks like you can buy and download it or even request a screening in your area.

Working on a thicker skin,

Meredith

P.S. In case you haven’t seen them yet, I do have a couple of new posts out there. One is my first piece for The Huffington Post – Election Anxiety: I’m Not Passionate About My Candidate. And the other is my experience at the big blogger conference I was so worried about – 7 Anxiety-Reducing Truths I Was Reminded Of at #BlogHer16.
 

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