I shall raise my voice," she insisted. "If I didn't do it, who would?" ~ Malala Yousufzai

Malala Yousufzai is a fourteen year old Pakistani girl fighting for her life in a hospital in England. She was shot in the head and neck last week for speaking up in the face of radicalism. The Taliban has claimed credit. They have also said they will try to kill her again should she recover.

What happened to Malala is brutal and cruel; an affront to people – especially girls – everywhere. The people of Pakistan seem to have had enough as well, as tens of thousands of Pakistani’s have taken to the streets in protest. Muslim clerics are speaking out against this disgusting act of cowardice. The entire world it seems is rooting for Malala. As they should be.

We should be outraged at all manner of things that are perpetrated against our daughters. Not just around the world but here as well. You know the land of the free, home of the brave. We demand that other countries treat their women better. We demand that they be allowed to drive; that they be allowed to dress as they wish; that they be allowed to be educated; that they be allowed to vote; that they be allowed to participate fully in society.

Funny thing though when it comes to American girls, the talk's a little different. It’s OK to pay them less than a man for the same work. It’s OK to subject them to unnecessary and invasive medical procedures; it’s OK to allow them to be fired for purchasing contraception; it’s OK to allow them to die because a doctor decides that they should forego chemotherapy so as not to harm their fetus.

Yeah, kind of all done with that type of support folks.

Guess what? Women are people too. They have real feelings. They have real achievements. They have real goals. They even bleed – a lot. I don’t know why some folks are afraid of the lady parts but honest they don’t bite. Really. Well some might, but I bet you have to pay extra for that.

Our daughters, here and around the world, need our support and encouragement but more than that they need to know that they stand shoulder to shoulder with our sons. That they are equal in every respect. That can’t happen until we – as in all of us – start showing them they matter by taking steps to prove that they matter. That they are vital and important to this country and its growth and prosperity.

Women have overcome all sorts of prejudice and subjugation and it boggles my mind that here in the 21st century, in America we are still adjudicating this nonsense. All while we are wagging our fingers at the rest of the world.

Please. Knock it off. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, “Being a girl is not a handicap; a girl is not the inferior version of a boy.”

We are your sisters and your wives and your mothers.

We deserve – no DEMAND – to control our bodies and our futures.

You can choose to stand with us or you will be forced to stand behind us.

Barbara Mulvey-Welsh is a mother, writer and blogger raising kids and a husband in Plymouth. Check out her blog at "Did I Say That Out Loud?"  Use caution when reading around the family, there is some strong language.

Jonathan Scott October 17, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I agreed with you quite a way through the piece Barbara, but I had to make some comment. The problem with this renewed debate on wage gap (btw - great timing given that it came up in last night's debate. Did you know the questions beforehand?) is that, like the energy debate, those discussing it narrow in on a certain aspect that suits their argument. Some of the wage gap exists b/c of historical trends that pointed women towards "pink collar" jobs & motherhood which reduces average salaries against men. The former issue can only straighten out over time (and it is - if we look at growth in females on the corporate C level). The latter... well... if men start having babies I'll be stunned. "Choice" is a very slippery slope that needs far more word space than available here but one person's "decision" is another person's murder. As for "unnecessary and invasive medical procedures" -I'm assuming that you mean forcing little girls in Texas to take HPV vaccinations against their parents wishes? No? Again, that would be a consistency issue that happens on both sides of any of these issues. My mother was a dropout who went off to skate w/Ice Capades. When she got (unexpectedly) pregnant with me, she came back east & went back to school. She became a lab tech, worked her way through nursing school in the lab, worked her way through anesthesia school as a nurse and decided to add a law degree in her 50s. She achieved despite what she was told she was supposed to be. JPS
Barbara Mulvey-Welsh October 17, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Reply in two parts due to space restrictions. Thanks for the comment Jon. I’d like to address your concerns in the order you presented them. 1. I agree with how the wage gap came to be but if we don’t demand that it be closed, it never will. I’m not talking about a lifetime earnings gap which would of course result from taking time to have a child and time missed if you decide to leave the work force to raise your family. I’m talking about the greater than 25% pay difference between men and women for doing the exact same job having the exact same qualifications. Don’t get me wrong, this is a bi-partisan problem. No “side” has the moral high ground here. It needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. 2. "Choice" is the law of the land. If it’s not your body, it’s not your business and it’s certainly not your choice. End of story. Don’t believe in abortion, don’t get one. That’s the choice part of choice.
Barbara Mulvey-Welsh October 17, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Second part... 3. By unnecessary medical procedures, no, I do not mean the HPV vaccination; I mean the laws that are being enacted that force a women into having an ultra-sound, including a trans-vaginal ultrasound (I’ve had one, they hurt) in order to have a constitutionally-protected legal medical procedure. Don’t even get me going on how doctors are required to inform you that abortion causes breast cancer (that’s a lie, by the way). 4. Congratulations to your mom, she did a great job raising you. Millions of women have achieved, and will continue to achieve, great things even under unequal conditions. My point is they shouldn’t have to “overcome” being a girl. It serves no purpose except to exclude.
Jonathan Scott October 17, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Thanks for responding Barbara. I forgot to say that, as always, I liked the piece. Your columns are always well written & thought provoking. They also have a personal strand to them that makes them heartfelt and genuine. Better than I can say for many world famous columnists (who very well could be contributing to the decline of interest in written media). Keep up the good work... even if we don't always fully agree. The other interesting thing about the wage gap came up in a conversation w/ another very capable relative who is exceedingly gifted at her job. She was negotiating for a new position & was up against it. Employers, in general - with men or women - will always get away with paying as little as possible. Women start out at a disadvantage for two reasons: 1) Studies show that female college seniors undervalue their skills in a monetary sense. That "anticipation gap" needs to be addressed before the numbers change. 2) Women are not taught to be tough negotiators, on the whole. You & my mom aside, women are taught as little girls to be "sugar and spice and everything nice" (I also believe that it's a "nature" trait, as well as a "nurture" one). Ripping someone's proverbial throat out in the boardroom doesn't qualify as sugar OR spice. What I'm getting at is that, these are not political issues, as much as they are sociological & educational issues. I'll stop there. #s 2 and 3 need a lot more than 1500 characters. I knew this would be fun.... JPS
Barbara Mulvey-Welsh October 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Thanks! I agree with both of your points about the disadvantages and I won't nit-pick that there are more than two reasons for the disparity. I always appreciate cogent and thoughtful push back. Understanding that we can disagree without being disagreeable is the only way forward.
Jonathan Scott October 17, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Thanks. I wish more politicians held that same sentiment. They did in the old days... but now it's not enough that they disagree. They have to HATE each other apparently. JPS
Diane October 17, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Thanks for your article Barbara. I have to pipe in about the HPV mandate in Texas. The mandate did not force girls to get the HPV vaccine despite their parents wishes. To the contrary the order specifically stated that girls must receive the vaccine unless their parents opted out. The intent of Gov. Perry was apparently to require the vaccine be available and affordable in a very Republican and conservative state. Of course since then his motivations have come under scrutiny since he received some political $$ from Merck but that is a separate issue. Also- being a nurse who has cared for those battling (and sadly at times losing to) cervical cancer, I cannot imagine why any parent would refuse this vaccine unless they are sure their daughter will only have sex with one man in her life and that man will never have had sex before her (and if you are sure of that you're fooling yourself). The vaccine must be given before onset of sexual activity when exposure to HPV happens. We can save thousands of women from premature death with a simple, safe vaccine. I can't help but feel the pushback against this vaccine is another example of undervaluing women in our society. Thanks again for another great article Barbara.
Barbara Mulvey-Welsh October 18, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Thank you for speaking up Diane. I've had my reservations about the HPV vaccine for my daughter but I'm going to take a closer look at it. Thanks for reading :)


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