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Dear Amy,

My name is Laisa and I just discovered your web site on the Internet yesterday. I am a second year law student at Emalus Campus at the University of the South Pacific in Port Villa Vanuatu. As a feminist I would just like to congratulate you at Feminist.com on the fine work that you are doing in creating awareness for women's issues and in particular women's rights, I too am doing my best to educate my peers on women's issues and to shed light on topics regarding the validity and reasonableness of the cause.

Amy, sometimes it's really hard to do this as the countries of the South Pacific where most but not all of my colleagues come from, are patriarchal, and therefore men are more respected and given more freedom, rights and privileges than women. Its even harder to create awareness when women themselves, generally speaking in the South Pacific believe that it is right that men are respected more and given more opportunities than them. How can I succeed in educating men and trying to help them understand the whole concept and purpose of feminism when women themselves are refusing to accept the idea? But I will not rest.

There are women in History who have fought long and hard, who have sacrificed time, wealth and energy, so I could have the privilege of being educated, the privilege of having a hopeful career, the privilege of having a voice and having that voice heard. There are women like you and I who continue to work and fight so that women in parts of the world that don't have this privilege may one day be able to enjoy it, and there are women who come from confined and restricted cultures that have totally and out rightly refused to acknowledge women and give them equal respect, and these women may never ever have their voices heard. I feel that I owe it to all these women to stand up for the feminist cause and women's rights and every other principle that may fall within these categories, I feel I owe it to all of them, to all of you, to continue to voice my opinions on gender equality and respect for women.

Thank you so much for the tireless effort, the work for the recognition of women's rights and creating awareness regarding women's issues, it is one of the worthiest causes any woman could ever pursue, it is after all directly related to her identity. I congratulate you and I pray that we all be given the divine strength to continue to work for those women who are less fortunate than us.

Two days ago, a friend of mine who studies Medical Law challenged me on a particular issue regarding surrogate mothers. The lecturer of the course who majors in this field and is a male, told the class that in opting to have surrogate mothers, working women are actually saying to the world, or implying, that it is a burden to have children because they take up valuable time that could be spent in furthering a career. In my friend's opinion, surrogacy was just another excuse for women to further their fight for women's rights. I have rebutted these views extensively, but I would like your opinion incase I have missed out certain issues essential in the better understanding of the topic and the comment made by the lecturer as well as the opinion upheld by my friend.



Dear Laisa,

I'm glad that we could provide some sense of comfort. I want to assure you that living in the U.S., which is also a patriarchal culture, doesn't guarantee one any easier time. In fact, I think it's harder because in other cultures, I think that there are at least some traditional practices that honor women's participation, but in the U.S., with the exception of Native American tribes, there is no tradition of that -- so we have to start from scratch. This isn't meant to be so discouraging, but to say that no matter where we are, there are people addressing these issues and working on solutions and thus we really need global connections.

On the issue of surrogate mothers -- every instance that I know of aren't "selfish career women," but people (younger) who have been trying for years to get pregnant and can't. Surrogacy isn't an easy decision and people take it lightly. The other people I see choosing it are people who are challenging traditional family models -- for instance, lesbians, where one partner has her eggs implanted in another. Or when people can't have children and they want to have their genes recreated somehow. I hope that helps -- try Nancy Lublin's book Pandora's Box -- a look at medical interventions in the womb from a feminist perspective. Good luck with continuing these challenging conversations.

- Amy



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