For Us. #WhyIVoteFaiqa Khan
Let’s go back to this one time in religion class in undergraduate. My professor who was and, I presume, still is a woman intimated that most world religions are patriarchal because women tended to get busy with things.
She said it exactly (mostly) like that. She said that women tended to get busy with taking care of children, cooking, etc., and that perhaps men rising the echelons of power was less about men oppressing women, and more about women saying, “Whatever, yes, you can be in charge of interpreting religious texts just as long as you take the kids to the park before you do it.”
At 19, I wasn’t super on board with this theory.
I’m still not on board with it. I’ve studied enough history to know that hierarchy is just as much aggression as it is apathy, if not more aggression and less apathy. I mean, it’s easy to be apathetic when you don’t have an arsenal. But I digress.
When I heard earlier this week that Babble was promoting the creation of Pinterest boards based on the phrase “Why I Vote,” I was forced to review the basic motivators I have for voting. For many, these reasons have to do with reproductive rights, foreign policy, economy or education. Those issues most definitely impact my vote, but they are not why I vote.
I don’t go to the polls to further my agenda.
I don’t do it to make sure that the inner city education is comparable to that of suburbia.
I don’t vote to make sure that thousands of lives are lost in a war I personally think is meaningless.
Those issues absolutely determine who I vote for, but not why I vote.
I vote because I must.
Let me tell you a story about a woman.
Once upon a time, there was a woman. She was vibrant and happy as a child. Her happiness carried forth into her adulthood. I heard she may have attended college for a while. She eventually got married. She had a few children. I think she may have even had a job, too, although working and raising a family was difficult in ways beyond how it is difficult for you and I. Her children grew up. As she raised her children, she sent them to schools. Her husband went to work. Her government made decisions about her life, about how much things cost, how much her husband would get paid and whether or not her grandsons would go to war and perhaps never come back. And then she died.
She died without anyone asking her or caring what she thought about those things. She wasn’t asked about whether it was alright that the cost of bread was rising or whether her husband worked too much for too little. Nobody wanted to know whether it was alright with her that she had lost sons for this cause or that. She just lived her life without anyone ever asking her if the world she lived in and contributed to was doing right by her and her family.
We do not honor how short a time 100 years is in the grand scope of human history.
We also forget that this story I just told you didn’t just take place a hundred years ago, but that it has taken place within our lifetimes. Along with the overt political policies in other nations that prohibited women from voting in this century, there are, even in our nation, passive obstacles to the political participation of women. This exhibits in overt strategies regarding voter registration or even via the simple fact that we honor those who died for our freedom but will not honor those who wish to exercise that freedom by mandating a half day off from work so they can vote.
We cannot forget that for most of us, women and otherwise, there was a time when what we thought didn’t matter at all in the public space to those in charge of constructing it.
My #WhyIVote Pinterest board has several photos on it.
Women in the 1920s marching in my newly adopted home state of Tennessee, the last state to adopt women’s suffrage. If those women could push aside cultural and intellectual arguments that cast them as unable to participate in public discourse, I can take a few hours off of work to vote.
Draped elegantly in a white scarf is a photo of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister. Although I disagree with much of what her politics were, she is a reason why I vote. If she could die in the process of seeking to be a part of her nation’s political arena, then I can take the time to check a box.
Some women in abayas stand around a voting office in Saudi Arabia with bright smiles on their faces. It’s the twenty-first century and they’re the first women to cast votes in their nation’s entire history. If they can transgress the cultural norms of their country, then I can certainly take the time make sure I’m registered in my country where women have had that right for over one hundred years.
There’s also a snapshot of me and two women I’ve worked with for a few years now and who are dear friends. One navigates the world which we call “disabled” and the other a new initiate into the one we call “motherhood”. I vote because of them, too, because my voice belongs with theirs.
And, then, beyond the barriers of time and physical geography are the women in my own nation.
Young, older, married or single women, mothers, wives. Women, who perhaps because of their circumstances, may not be able to cast a vote. Maybe they can’t take the time off. Maybe they have more to worry about. Maybe their circumstances demand their attention be paid to the more immediate. While our voices might not emanate from the same set of experiences, I will consider them and I vote because of them.
One only has to skim a Facebook wall to see the amount of rhetoric that has surrounded the issues. As a person committed to our political process, I welcome these discussions both in social media and in my own living room. Still, even if every political agenda I had was absolutely guaranteed to happen in the public space, I would still vote.
Because I must.
I won’t turn my back on those who struggled before I was born, or when I was a girl, or now during my womanhood. I want to make sure that our voices are heard. I don’t vote because of the issues. I vote for her. For you. For myself.
We all are why I vote.
Be warned, however, it’s all “Ghosts of Handicrafts that Never Were” in there.
Faiqa Khan has been blogging for nearly five years, but has been planning world domination since she was three. A writer, teacher, wife and mother, she maintains her personal blog at Native Born. She also produces and hosts an interfaith podcast with her Abrahamic homey, Mike Scheinberg, at Hey! That’s My Hummus!. Faiqa is also trying to get her mediocre on as a contributor and editor for the humor site Aiming Low. Connect with Faiqa on Facebook or Twitter.