A Feminist Guide to Fighting With Your Family
Over the holidays, you can find me hiding in the bathroom—clinging to a cup of (very festive!) punch that I’ve (very coyly!) stashed under the sink.
I will, eventually, have to venture out for nourishment. I will, inevitably, get into fights with my relatives.
If this sounds familiar, we’ve created just the guide for you!
Here’s how to fight for gender justice with your misinformed, messiest family members—and win!
1. Your “progressive” aunt (a self-proclaimed empath)
“You know that I’m pro-choice! But I can’t stand how your generation acts online. It’s almost like you WANT people to get abortions. That feels so wrong to me.”
Guess what—you should be pro-abortion, not just pro-choice.
Because abortion is not a bad word, it’s health care—health care that’s vital for everyone to be able to determine their own reproductive destinies. Why wouldn’t we feel positively toward anyone who wants an abortion being able to get one?
And news flash: For some people, getting an abortion might be an easy decision! Or a difficult one. But either way, it is deeply personal, and we don’t need to know or assume anything about how the patient came to need abortion care. Even further, did y’all know that, according to a U.S. study, women seeking abortion care are often more certain of their choice than people making other health care decisions?
We don’t know anyone’s circumstances, so let’s trust people to make decisions that are best for their lives and their bodies rather than feeding into anti-abortion tropes!
2. Your socially-liberal-fiscally-conservative cousin (wearing a quarter zip)
“I hate taxes. The more money you make, the more the government comes after you.”
Actually, rich people aren’t paying their taxes. And the IRS hasn’t had the resources to fight their army of tax attorneys. In fact, the IRS disproportionately audits people with low incomes because it’s cheaper and easier to do so!
I know you might not believe me. (I’m just a woman, what do I know about numbers?)
So take it from the iconic IRS itself: The top 1% are responsible for about $163 billion in unpaid taxes every year, and the IRS fails entirely to go after some rich people who don’t file taxes at all. Meanwhile, the most-audited counties in the country are low-income majority Black rural counties in the South.
Collecting taxes that the rich already owe us is a no-brainer. But we need to be taxing the wealthy and big corporations even more!
Taxing rich people’s wealth (all the money, property, stock, and other assets they own) on a yearly basis could raise an estimated $1.9 trillion over 10 years! That money could go into child care, universal paid family and medical leave, accessible and affordable housing, and so many other public goods!
3. Your have-you-actually-looked-at-the-facts brother (who plays foosball at his tech startup while drinking an IPA)
“God, stop being such a snowflake. We literally know the wage gap isn’t real!”
Bro, I present to you: undeniable evidence, as reported by the Census Bureau! (Maybe you’ve heard of them).
Women in the United States who work full time, year-round are paid only 84 cents for every dollar paid to men—and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger, resulting in these staggering losses over a 40-year career:
- For Black women, $907,680
- For Native women, $1,151,880
- For Latinas, $1,188,960
4. The not-my-problem boyfriend (who thinks Andrew Tate is misunderstood)
“Why should my taxes pay for some random lady to take care of HER kid.”
To put it simply: Child care is part of what allows our country to get up in the morning and function.
And that’s, like, kind of important.
Child care supports child development, empowers caregivers to go back to work, facilitates the highly skilled early education workforce, and upholds so many other vital elements of our economy and society. It’s involved in nearly every aspect of American life—so why wouldn’t child care be a collective responsibility?
Now, you’re probably too selfish to understand something like “the greater good.” But what I hope you can understand is this: We’re over. And you’re not allowed to take any leftovers on your way out the door.
5. Your it-just-isn’t-fair uncle (who peaked at a 1982 frat toga party. In other words, his favorite movie is Animal House)
“It’s not fair letting trans athletes play on girls’ teams.”
Uncle, even people on your bad, bigoted side—groups and states opposing participation by transgender and intersex girls and women in athletic competitions for women and girls—have been unable to cite one example of transgender and intersex athletes consistently dominating their competition.
Also, research shows a correlation between LGBTQ+-inclusive sports policies and increased levels of sports participation by all girls. AKA when we look at states where trans girls play sports, more cis girls are playing sports, too.
And if you really care about the well-being of girls (somehow, I doubt it), you should know that transphobic sports policies also harm all girls, especially Black and brown girls and queer girls. That’s because they encourage intense and invasive scrutiny of students’ bodies based on sex stereotypes. One particularly egregious example: Indiana’s anti-trans sports ban from 2022, currently on pause, tried to create a vigilante complaint system for random strangers to declare a girl looks too athletic or muscular to be a “real girl.”
Finally, if you’re soooo passionate about “fairness” for girls in sports (once again, doubtful), you should be focused on how girls’ teams often receive fewer resources than boys’ teams—including fewer team spots and coaches, worse sports facilities, worse uniforms, etc.
So my dearest Uncle, why don’t you take it upon yourself to fix those injustices—rather than creating more of your own!
As you head into this holiday season (cough: battle), here at the National Women’s Law Center, we want to wish you the best of luck. And if worst comes to worst, maybe just lock yourself in the bathroom and fall asleep in the tub.