Roaring Back and the War on WomenMarch 21st, 2012 © by Susan Swartz
The continuing war on women makes me think of the relative who comes to dinner and talks stupid. An Uncle Ralph with his tired sexist jokes. Others roll their eyes but give him a pass because the poor guy never caught up with the times and can’t help himself. He’s just harmless Uncle Ralph trying to get your goat.
Well, my goat, for one, has been gotten.
When this Republican wave of attacks on women’s reproductive rights and health services began I thought, here we go again. A gender war reenactment, circa 1960s and 1970s. But it’s gone on too long and oozed from Republican primary rhetoric into state houses, health clinics and now even the boss’ office. I’d love to not take them seriously but I don’t dare.
I think it’s a real threat. Not harmless at all. I think there is big money and more power on their side than we want to think. Why else would they keep on this nutter if they didn’t feel encouraged? Don’t worry, I hear, they’re just blowing smoke. Never happen, just a sideshow. Any law they manage to push through would be challenged. It’s just political theater.
Maybe, but something has emboldened prominent members of the Republican Party to push against women’s health services, even while insisting there’s no war on women. Some 77 percent of Americans say birth control shouldn’t be a public debate but right-wingers keep up the jabber.
GOP leaders even resist the Violence Against Women Act because it might shelter immigrant women fleeing for their lives and expand protection to same sex couples. As if some domestic violence is acceptable.
There’s the Arizona bill that would compel a woman employee in a group health plan to explain to her boss why she wants birth control. How creepy is that?
I live in coastal Northern California where the predominant thinking is as blue as the Pacific. The war on women doesn’t get very scrappy here. We watch it from a relatively safe distance and can become complacent. But outside my comfortable bubble, I see things that make me nervous.
It’s not just the warbling of a choir boy who believes that sex should only be for procreation and wants to turn the country into a theocracy. It’s a growing roar against women with one wild-eyed effort after another to attach new laws to women’s bodies.
The thinking seems to be if it’s good for our health it’s bad for taxpayers, anti-male and offends some religious group.
You wouldn’t think there would be such a hysterical effort to put women in their place at this time in this country but as Hillary Clinton said, “Extremists, no matter where or what religion, want to go after women.”
So, what can we do? We can always write checks to causes and candidates on the side of women but that doesn’t seem visible enough.
We could get Women are Watching signs and plant them in our front yard.
We can work to get more women elected, from both parties, who don’t like what’s happening to women. We can say thank you to women, like Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski for standing up to their party.
We can do like the 150 women and men in Huntsville, Alabama who last weekend put on a Stop the War on Women Rally in their park.
And we can go bigger. Finally, there’s an organized cross-country push-back set for April 28 – a national Enough is Enough march and rally supported by groups like the League of Women Voters and Planned Parenthood.
We can roar back. And we can show Uncle Ralph the door.