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We Are More Than the Sum of Our Parts


Gloria Steinem Wearing "I Had an Abortion" Shirt Designed by Jennifer Baumgardner (Photo: WFAE)

I awoke last week to a report about Gloria Steinem’s speech at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Spring gathering:

Her speech, Steinem said beforehand, would aim to “remind us that reproductive freedom is a fundamental human right.”

So, reproductive freedom is a fundamental human right, but the right to life isn’t? I’ll take that debate. Last I checked, the Declaration of Independence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The report adds:

She called reproductive freedom the “key to equalizing males and females,” and praised Planned Parenthood and its supporters.

In my book, women’s equality didn’t come about because of reproductive freedom; it came about due to strong, intelligent, motivated women who used their intellect and passion to fight for recognition of their potential.

My power in this world is not derived from my ability to abort; it is derived from my ability to succeed.

The notion of “equalizing males and females” also reminds me of a quote by Timothy Leary often attributed to Marilyn Monroe: “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” I always liked that quote. You see, I don’t aim to be “equal with men” because I don’t see the world divided by gender, where all men are on one side and all women on another. It’s not realistic; things just aren’t that black and white. Instead, I aim to be the best woman I can be.

The reality is that there are men who are smarter than I am and men who aren’t as smart. There are men who make more money than I do and men who make less. There are men who excel in areas I don’t; others have struggled in areas I’ve succeeded in. We’re not a world divided between men and women; we’re a world made up of individuals with different skills, goals, and potential.

It just doesn’t all come down to gender.

My power is not born from my reproductive parts. It is born from my mind, my ambition, my passion, and my uniqueness as the one and only “me” in this world. Same goes for all of you.

Placing female empowerment within the confines of our reproductive parts shrinks women down to the sum of those parts. I’d hope Gloria Steinem would agree we’re a lot more than that.

This column was originally published at AMAC.

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