Thursday, March 8, 2012
They Have No Idea...
The recent “War On Women” launched by religious conservatives (I refuse to sully the word “Christian” by applying it to this group) has reminded American women just how close to the surface lies the depth and breadth of the ire of “Angry White Men.” Even women like me, who have never been entirely comfortable sallying forth to secure equal rights under the “Legal Abortion” flag. It’s not that I have a problem with legalized abortion. Mostly I just hate to pin the complex problem of women’s sovereignty to a single hot-button issue.
Yet the actions of our right-wing brothers over these past few early-election-year weeks, accompanied by paternalistic and demeaning rhetoric, prove that how women are viewed in our society is very much reflected in the prevailing political attitude toward reproductive rights. Like it or not, “Abortion Rights” has become synonymous with “Women’s Rights.” Indeed, I can see certain Right Wing interests having a covert hand in this phenomenon. They understand that the dialogue devolves as soon as the word “abortion” escapes into the air. And they mean to keep the discussion polarized and mean-spirited.
Has it only been three weeks since Darrell Issa’s men-only panel was convened on Capitol Hill to assault the health care rights of women? I’m pretty sure that Issa’s intent was merely to embarrass and oppose the President at any and every opportunity. Evidently this has been one of the chief functions of the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee since the Clinton Era. If President Obama proclaimed in a news conference this afternoon that the sky is blue, Issa would convene a hearing tomorrow to demonstrate, in terms designed to incur maximum damage upon the credibility of the Administration, why it is not.
This all began with the Administration’s efforts to compromise with religious employers who claimed moral objections to providing birth control coverage in adherence to The Health Care Reform Act. When word of this reached Issa, he saw an opportunity to exploit it into yet another very political, very public, very Republican slam on “Obamacare.” I won’t dignify his actions with the notion that he cared a fig for the moral stance of any religious leader. His motive was pure, political, election-year mud-slinging.
Since then, Republican-controlled state legislatures all over the country have rushed to exploit what they have identified as a favorable political climate to pass a flurry of legislation aimed at compromising the reproductive and health care choices of women. Just goes to prove that women’s rights are never for good and all written in stone; the issue never dies. It just lies dormant until someone who has been carefully watching which way the political winds are blowing decides that the time is right to drag it all up again. Time to whip up a crowd of ulta-conservative crusaders who firmly believe that it is their right and duty to dictate how all American citizens shall live, arm them with “moral” sledge-hammers and let them take swing after swing at our hard-won equal rights.
This time around, the hammer was handed over to that ever-popular conservative mouthpiece—Rush Limbaugh. That blow-hard political bully who has assailed our ears with his “humorous” pandering to the demons perched on the shoulders of middle class Americans, fifteen hours a week for more than two decades. With his army of over 15 million weekly listeners, it can be said (though the mainstream GOP patently denies this) that Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. Given possession of the “Bash Women’s Rights” sledge-hammer, he proceeded to call up what I can only assume are his personal deeply held misogynistic views. On the air, over the course of three days, he repeatedly labeled a young lady famous for NOT being invited to testify at Issa’s all-male party a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Which led us all to ponder: Exactly how far back do ultra-conservatives aim to push women’s rights? Fifty years? Eighty? A hundred?
In the 21st-century world of public opinion ruled by sound-bytes and the “flap-du-jour,” we have demonstrated a tendency toward political ADD. Different groups hop up and down and holler about the latest controversy; the most recent way they have been deathly wronged by…whomever. Within days, the furor dies down, the story goes away, and we are on to the next juicy story. It has become common political practice to take swipes at gays, blacks, immigrants, public employees…whoever political conservatives seize upon as the latest threat to the rest of us here in the good ole land of the free and home of the brave (white American.) The outrage flares, then it goes away…too soon.
I mean no slam on those groups. They are minorities. That’s why they get picked on. Political bullies count upon the fact that most people in the country are NOT gay or black or immigrants or public employees. There are two unfortunate aspects of our society at work here: 1.) Our secret grudges and prejudices gain legitimacy once some political or media figure gives voice to them and 2.) There is no longer a popular sentiment concerned with defending everyone’s rights.
So now, I hear from pretty much everywhere, “What’s up with this ‘War on Women” furor? Why isn’t it dying down? Why won’t it go dutifully away like all the other times some public idiot has planted his foot firmly in his mouth and sucked as hard as he could?”
The answer is simple: We are the WOMEN, folks. We’re not some itty-bitty, nine or ten or even 20% of the population. WOMEN. I don’t hardly know anyone who isn’t one or doesn’t know one; doesn’t live or work with one. You think we should sit down and shut up? You think we should placate or ignore those who mean to take away our rights? You think that in a couple of days we’ll forget all this and forgive all that has been said and done to our sovereignty in the name of political advantage, of trying to brainwash One More Voter?
I have one thing to say about that: YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHO YOU ARE DEALING WITH.