Parsing the memes dealing with women in this election season is almost dizzying.
From “binders full of women” to the insinuation that if women get pregnant from a rape, it’s “something that God intended,” Republicans seem determined to put their feet their mouths over and over again.
There are signs now that women are getting the message, and getting more politically active as a result.
Yesterday I received the new Lesley Gore video, “You Don’t Own Me,” from several sources; if you have’t seen it yet, it’s worth a look: it’s a composite of many different women (most of them young) telling the politicians to get their f**king hands off our bodies (emphasis mine).
The specter of Roe v. Wade being reversed has a lot of women frightened.
We seem to be heading eerily towards the scenario imagined by Margaret Atwood some thirty years ago in The Handmaid’s Tale: a nightmare landscape of environmental devastation and societal breakdown, where the elite, safe in their gated communities, feel righteously justified in considering forced childbearing the only function of fertile young women.
I am still trying to wrap my head around the reality of the fact that we live in a country where Viagra is fully covered by insurance, but contraception often is not.
We live in a world where powerful men can get away with assaulting women and boys repeatedly, with the collusion of those around them. Sandusky and DSK, I’m looking at YOU—but these just the most scandalous recent cases, there are so many more in their club.
And if we move over to the virtual world, the violence against women’s bodies grows exponentially. People always tell me that there’s all kinds of porn out there, from the soft & cuddly to the whips and chains, but from what I know, there are an awful lot of men jerking off to women’s pain.
I really don’t like calling men out like this. I believe that many–probably most—men are fine upstanding citizens who would never hurt a woman.
But the truth is that we women need all those fine upstanding men to stand up for us now.
I was shocked at the statistics released last week showing that if only men voted in the Presidential election, Romney would win.
That means that an awful lot men support the kind of patriarchal social structure Romney indisputably stands for.
When is the last time you heard of a Mormon woman running a big company, or holding political office, or doing much of anything outside of doing the admittedly fulltime work of raising a big brood of children?
And then there’s the other half of the ticket, Paul Ryan—a Roman Catholic who seems to be Scrooge re-issued in a virile young package.
These two are the front men for a huge back-to-the-future wave of religious conservatism that employs much more subtle means than the Islamic Brotherhood, but with the same ends: to uphold male privilege and keep women securely ensconced in the private sphere.
A Romney might take a look at those “binders of women,” but in the end he’ll choose a nice young white man as the “most qualified” of the lot.
A Ryan might approve of a married woman leaving the home to earn some extra bread for her husband’s table, but if her daughter was raped while mom was out and got pregnant, too bad—suck it up, have the child, life goes on, and it’s just too bad that rapists are so rarely punished. After all, boys will be boys, and girls ask for it.
If all American women voted in this election, President Obama would win by a landslide.
Obama has been good to women where it counts: he’s drastically improved health care and fought off the insurance dragons who want to label even pregnancy a “re-existing condition”; he’s stood up for women’s ownership of our reproductive health; the stimulus he put into place in his first year has kept our economy limping along,despite the repeated and concerted efforts of Republican Congressmen to sabotage it; and his government showcases a number of powerful, strong women who provide excellent leadership models for all Americans.
Shortly after he was sworn in as President of the United States, Barack Obama wrote a public letter to his two daughters, Malia and Sasha, in which he says:
“These are the things I want for you—to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That’s why I’ve taken our family on this great adventure.”
The historic election of the nation’s first African American President represented a giant step forward for this country. A racial barrier that had seemed insurmountable fell, just as suddenly as the Berlin Wall fell two decades ago, ending what had seemed to be an everlasting Cold War.
We need the gender barriers to fall too. I know there are young women in the political pipeline today who have the dream of breaking through all the glass ceilings and reaching the sky, and we should be doing all we can to support them.
Today, what we need to do is prevent the takeover of this nation by rightwing religious conservatives. We need to vote President Obama back into office.
And then we need to keep going, to make this a nation where all our children—no matter their gender, their race, their class, their religion or their ethnicity—can soar.
Surmounting the challenges facing us not just as a country, but as a planet, will take every ounce of creative, innovation and intelligence we can muster.
We need all our children to turn their minds to this task. We can’t afford to leave half the population—our women—barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.