Peace Begins at Home
On March 22nd of this year it will be exactly 40 years since the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced and we’re still waiting for it to move forward. For Post 9/11 Veterans, that’s longer than most of you have been alive.
To clarify, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. In other words, the other half of us (50.8%) that are not men.
Women make up 18% of US Armed Forces, serving a country that can’t guarantee us equal protection under the law. Sobering.
What would drive a reasonable person to take a job to defend a country who doesn’t defend them? What incentivizes someone to take a job in which safety isn’t guaranteed not only in the context of the battlefield, but in the barracks, chow hall, armory, enlisted club, PX, motor pool, parking lot, or the very privacy of one’s home? Why would we put our lives on the line for a country who views us as less fully deserving of human rights than our male counterparts?
Why would anyone stay in a job with colleagues who heckle, berate, or even go as far as to perpetrate violence against us--with little to no accountability to our mutual superiors? (Rest in power, young sister Vanessa Guillen, we failed you.)
Assuming women veterans survive all of the trauma above semi-intact, and decide to turn our collective experience of war and violence upside down to deliberate action that is anti-war and opposes violence, where does peace making begin?
We begin at home.
We begin at our most basic level of domesticity, in our relationships with each other as partners, friends, colleagues, couples, lovers, parents, children—in spaces where we may not be represented as 50/50 locally, but respect we are 50/50 globally.
What I am asking for is that the men of VFP practice peace at home, in our individual chapters and on a national level. Our Code of Conduct and Statement of Purpose serves as our guide and reminder about how we have agreed to treat each other. It’s just as much about the journey of how we get to peace as the end result itself.
I ask that you consider the 10% or so of us who make up this organization as equal partners in the struggle for peace as fully autonomous humans deserving of respect and dignity--with or without US legislative recognition and not just during the month of March.
I’m also hoping that I won’t be met with defensiveness and resistance or be “hashtagged” with a #Notallmen response. I am also not asking for misplaced acts of chivalry (which in and of itself another form of displaced misogyny).
I’m asking that we remain hypervigilant and accountable in our interactions with each other on a most basic level, treating each other equitably as human beings.
A VFP veteran member who wishes to remain anonymous