These two amazing women recently sparked controversy when they both separately made comments comparing the gay rights movement and the women’s rights movement. It started initially with Patricia Arquette, who in a recent Oscar acceptance speech stated “People think we have equal rights; we don’t. Until we pass a constitutional amendment, we won’t have anything changed. It’s time for all women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”
This caused people to point out that many women are, in fact, women of color and part of the LGBTQ community. While this point is valid, it shouldn’t overshadow the poignant comments that Ms. Arquette made. We can’t forget that there is currently a website tracking equal pay amongst women in the United States, which can be seen at statusofwomendata.org. Here, you can see that women are marginalized and discriminated against in employment and earnings, and where each state ranks. The site promises to also offer data on female poverty, reproductive rights, opportunity, political participation, among other things. Time Magazine recently reported that if the current trend continues, women will not see equal pay in five US states (West Virginia, Utah, Louisiana, North Dakota and Wyoming) until 2100!
Discrimination against women is very real and and it is the worst for women of color. It is unbelievable, but true, that in 2015, there is still a pay gap. There is still a very strong movement attempting (and in some states, succeeding) to deny women of their basic reproductive rights. People who hold political office still think that women’s reproductive systems shut down during rape to prevent pregnancy. Others just don’t think pregnancy results from rape very often, despite the fact that it happens over 30,000 times a year. Don’t you think women have cause for concern?
Shortly after Patricia Arquette made these comments, Madonna made similar comments that sparked controversy. Keep in mind, Madonna has been a very outspoken ally for the gays for over three decades now, and whatever you think of her… It seems to me that the gay community owes Madonna an awful lot. There is actually a Wikipedia article titled “Madonna As A Gay Icon,” and she is considered by LGBT magazine “The Advocate” to be the greatest gay icon. She even recently admitted that she used to pine after gay men when she was younger, living in New York City.
“I didn’t feel like straight men understood me. They just wanted to have sex with me,” she explained. “Gay men understood me, and I felt comfortable around them. There was only that one problem, which is that they didn’t want to have sex with me! So…conundrum!”
Madonna recently had the following to say: “Gay rights are way more advanced than women’s rights,” she stated. “People are a lot more open-minded to the gay community than they are to women, period. It’s moved along for the gay community, for the African-American community, but women are still just treading on their ass… To me, the last great frontier is women.”
She continued, “Women are still the most marginalized group. They’re still the group that people won’t let change…You must fit into this box… You must behave this way, dress this way. You’re still categorized — you’re still either a virgin or a whore. If you’re a certain age, you’re not allowed to express your sexuality, be single, or date younger men.”
Despite the controversial nature of her comments, I must say that I agree. Gay rights, while they still have a long way to go, have come along way, but we have been extremely stagnant, and often even taken leaps backward, when it comes to equality for women. I think the real lesson here is that the struggle is never over. Just because gay marriage is legal in most states and will likely be legal in all of them before the end of the year, doesn’t mean there isn’t a strong resistance movement. Gays face discrimination every day… As do women and people of color. And we must not marginalize each other. Instead, we need to recognize this and be supportive of one another. If we don’t continue fighting together, we might face what women have faced – stagnation and regression of their personal liberties.