Dear women of the 21st century

Dear women of the 21st century,

Americans live in a beautiful time of freedom and growth. Women today are able to become virtually anything they want to be — doctors, authors, even journalists. They are able to marry who they want, when they want, if they want to and the same applies to choosing to have (or not to have) children. Fourty years ago, many of these options would not have been available, and women have centuries of fighting and defiance of authority to thank for that. Brave women built this country, and many brave women still do not have these capabilities in other countries. So why would anyone want to take these rights away?

Several weeks ago, Nate Silver, an outspoken conservative writer and the creator of posted on his twitter feed political maps that showed which candidate would win if only men voted versus if only women voted. From these maps, the #repealthe19th was created, stating the idea of repealing the 19th Amendment, which allowed women the right to vote. However satirical these comments and the thousands of replies to them were, they still sent a sickening message to women: your opinion is not wanted.

This presidential election is an excellent example of the disparity between ideologies — men versus women, Republican versus Democrat, black versus white, the list goes on. The mentality of us versus them has to stop if we ever truly want to see change. In regard to men and women, this polarized mentality perpetuates cultural divides in the workplace, in the home and in the social spectrum.

Here’s simple analogy: Think of a football team. Women are currently on the offense, actively trying to fight to win something (equal pay, no tax on feminine products, etc.), and men are — for whatever reason — on the defense. Many men believe that their own rights and protections are being altered by including women in their exclusive club of privilege, and it is causing a huge divide between the two groups that is not only unnecessary, but is also incredibly harmful, and this is perpetuated by women who fight against the “feminist movement.”

Where does this mindset come from? Why are there women out in the world who would allow men to have complete control over the political system again? There is no easy answer for this, but here are a few possible ideas. For some, it may be religious; many religions around the world support the concept that women should submit to men (for example 1 Timothy 11-12: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”) While there are different contextual interpretations of these verses, biblical texts and many other religious texts state that women should be submissive to men, as was the custom of the time. Many devout women support this idea, and may struggle with the modern interpretation of feminism, which can encourage female domination over men if taken to an extreme.

Another reason women would not support women’s rights is that they see the harmful effects it can have on men. Many women share the argument that feminism has become radicalized and that men are equally impacted by some of the issues that women face. For example, the Women Against Feminism Facebook page posts about women who have rejected the feminist ideal in support of men’s rights as well, using examples such as suicide and rape rates of men and women and claim that feminism does more harm than good for the female community. Thousands of women have posted on this site and have shown support for this concept.

Men: Women are not trying to take anything away from you when calling for equal rights. They are simply asking for the same privileges as any other American, as many others have fought for.

Women: You are entitled to any beliefs that you hold, but remember that what the majority of women’s rights supporters are calling for is not women overcoming men, but instead women and men working together in an equally beneficial situation.

The guerrilla feminist movement has become the misrepresented face of women’s rights supporters. Bra-burners and man-shamers are not the majority, but they have become the stereotype, which is why many reject the feminist movement. The original values of the women’s rights movement and the values of the radical feminist movement are not the same, but are often mixed up. Most women just want equality, and are not advocating for the condemnation of the entire male population. The few do not define the many, and so advocating for the revocation of an entire community’s rights in order to avoid the election of someone who may open doors for the fringe feminists is not the way to go about it.

Women have the right to be anything they want to be — stay-at-home moms, religious advocates or high-powered executives. Women are able to have a voice because of the women’s rights movement and are able to vote for who they want because of the fights of women’s rights supporters. So ladies, please stop alienating each other, because at the end of the day, you all need to stand together in order to compromise and make change.

You don’t have to support everything that the women’s rights movement stands for, but unless the women versus women stigma ends, the us versus them problem will never be resolved. We are all human: Black, white, female, male, gay, straight and everything in between. The concept that any human is superior to another is outdated, and holds us back from making our world and our lives better. We don’t all have to agree, but we do have to co-exist.