Women’s Rights – “Slip-Sliding Away”

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Men are still determined to dominate women and some men pay an awful lot of attention to the things women do to stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Of course there are women who do this too, but whenever I have been to a Planned Parenthood rally, it has been men who are the most rabid protestors. Religions also try to control what women can do with their bodies in the name of keeping them from sin, I guess. Catholics and Evangelicals would not seem like natural allies, but when it comes to being against ending pregnancies, they are, and they have no interest in the circumstances. Things move so fast that we often get over things that seem shocking and adapt to them quite quickly. We are, also, so distracted by the constant requirements of our President, who must always be the center of attention, that we are letting the states take action on women’s rights that we will really regret; actions which will affect us all.

Now that our government is so often controlled by Republican men, women’s rights are up for grabs in the very places where laws that championed the rights of women were once upheld. It seems to be the fashion that if you don’t like a law, you get creative and find a work-around. Most of this action occurs in the states and perhaps we just feel good that this stuff did not happen in our state. It is really euphemistic to call these activities creative. They actually are ways to break a law. These laws get challenged and end up in court but our courts are being stuffed with Conservatives so sometimes discriminatory laws get upheld. You would think that we would never allow ourselves to become accustomed to legal dirty tricks designed to take away rights, but these are such issue-rich times that we lose our focus.

Specifically, I am talking about what so-called pro-life people have done to sidestep Roe v Wade because they can’t overturn it. As soon as this decision came down from our Supreme Court opposition began. Initially opposition was loud and sometimes violent. Opponents called women who chose to have legal abortions, baby killers, murderers, and tried to block women who needed to end a pregnancy (a personal, private right given to women by law). Emotions ran so high that eventually a doctor who performed abortions was shot and he died. Fear was used as a deterrent to seeking an end to a pregnancy, a sort of cultural terrorism against women already in crisis.  Some women could afford to seek out a clinic that was not under attack but the poorest women could not. We don’t keep statistics on how many women were dissuaded from ending a pregnancy by activists but I suspect this has happened.

Recently the anti-abortion coalitions (formal or informal) have left terrorism behind and they have been thinking outside the box. They still label women as baby killers but have come up with some very effective strategies to close clinics that provide abortions. They have used TRAP laws, mainly in southern states. These laws set standards for women’s health clinics that the clinics cannot afford to meet. The laws decree that clinics affiliate with a nearby hospital when the law’s drafters already know that most hospitals will not allow this. Alternatively, the law requires the clinic to hire high level professionals and buy equipment too costly for their budgets, equipment also unnecessary for the procedures performed there. In West Texas so many clinics had to shut down that there was only one clinic left. I doubt that it is still operating.

As I have already stated, on these matters Catholics and Evangelicals find they are allies, and many of the most obdurate voices are male. These odd allies have been attacking women’s rights on the issue of contraception. Many believe that contraceptives are abortifacients and are therefore also being used to kill babies (perhaps before they are even conceived) (sarcasm). Pregnancy can be planned, but it is often pretty random. Men who don’t like to use protection may be the worst offenders. It only takes one sperm and one egg and a baby could result unless the process of cell division is stopped. Apparently preventing a sperm from fertilizing an egg is considered against God and nature. These folks want to take women back to either abstinence or the highly ineffective rhythm method. (Look it up if you don’t know what it is.) It is total myth that all women in any age have practiced abstinence.

The newest pseudoscientific attack on the issue of abortion centers around the determination of “personhood”. When can a fetus feel pain or pleasure. When does a fetus become a “person”. Ohio and Iowa have recently set that mark at 6 weeks and have introduced bills known as “heartbeat” bills which contend that a fetus becomes a person when it has a heartbeat. Scientists say this happens at 6 weeks. Newer attempts are setting “personhood” at conception. Interesting that these people, who are often right wingers, dismiss science on climate and embrace science that puts women in their “rightful” place, “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen”. The contention here is that as soon as a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall and meiosis begins – voila, personhood happens. Legislators are now asking, “is that tiny “person” entitled to all the rights granted to persons in our documents. Oh, Oh.

This could be bad, really bad. And that is already proving to be true, although on a very small scale so far. There have been several cases where women who claim to have had a miscarriage are being arrested and charged with murder.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/22/abortion-pregnancy-law-prosecute-trump

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/indiana-has-now-charged-two-asian-american-women-feticide-n332761

https://www.thenation.com/article/women-are-being-arrested-and-jailed-self-abortion/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/28/opinion/stillborn-murder-charge.html

All this happens under the radar in the Trump administration, more properly called “The Trump Show”. But we had better not ignore these mental shenanigans practiced by the anti-abortion faction because instead of overturning Roe v Wade these constant attacks on the law could render it moot. Women would once again lose control over their own health, their own bodies, and their own lives. Do we really want to kiss the 60’s goodbye? I still have a newsprint, stapled copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Perhaps one day it will be illegal to own it.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – News and Letter Committees

Women, Trump, Religion, Money

 

EB Evangelicals filmstr

You may wonder why Evangelicals don’t oppose 45, whose “sins” are coming home to roost and lowering the tone of our national discourse. But you don’t have to travel too far in your thinking to understand that Trump’s misogyny is tailor-made for furthering the policies of fundamentalist Christians. Iowa just passed a law that makes it a crime to have an abortion after 6 weeks. So far no one has overturned this law which violates the intent of Roe v Wade, a law with Supreme Court clout behind it. Perhaps this is true because Trump is packing Federal courts with conservatives as quickly as Congress can confirm them.

Evangelicals and Trump seem to agree that women are the root of much of the evil in American society. When women went to work families fell apart, they claim. Many conservatives feel that the demise of the nuclear family changed the entire tenor of American society and not for the better. They blame the disruptions to the nuclear family on educating women for careers that take their focus away from preserving close families. They also blame this statistical piece of data about fewer nuclear families on women’s liberation and feminism, birth control and legal abortion. But the true roots of this story, at least for these originalists, are in the Garden of Eden. Women led men into the original sin.

Some Evangelicals tend to also be white supremacists (these days) who bemoan the lack of large white families, the dearth of women who are baby factories turning out white infants to keep America white. I don’t know if you have been reading David Brooks in the NYT’s. While I would never identify Brooks as a white supremacist, he does feel that American values and our whole national psyche suffered as families lost strength. He places a lot of the blame on technology but behind his Luddite arguments are the missing elements that supposedly gave America, once upon a time, it’s sense of community. Those missing elements are moms and religion (the role of the church in community life). When women went to work, white women stopped having babies, that is the crux of the matter for Evangelicals, for white supremacists, and perhaps, in a different way, even for David Brooks.

Beyond that there is, of course, a religious belief that abortion is wrong, that God doesn’t like it and that it is probably a mortal sin, even though mortal sin is more a Catholic thing than an evangelical thing. Many believe that if they let women abort babies they are dooming their immortal soul and will never be accepted in Paradise when they leave this life. So they dictate what others can do because they feel they must for both reasons of faith and to insure their passage into heaven.

Lately Evangelicals have decided that life is so sacred that it is wrong to use birth control. Just as some schools are moving back to preaching abstinence; women are being burdened with a message that links abortion and birth control. Evangelicals seems to be saying to women, if you don’t want babies don’t be promiscuous; if you get pregnant, regardless of the circumstances, have the baby. Most of this enormous burden of judgmental religiosity is coming from men, who are responsible for every baby ever born and for the circumstances under which they are conceived (at least most of the time). Allowing this message to have power over women’s lives sends them spiraling backwards to pre-contraception days.

Donald Trump lives deep in the old Madonna-whore complex. Wives are placed on a pedestal and treated like queens (for a while at least) and other women who like their sexuality, or who exploit their sexuality, or who are exploited for their sexuality are Donald’s whores. He may also treat them well for a while, but they are not supposed to have children by him and they are definitely not squired about for public consumption. If they did get pregnant, which could happen because his pleasure comes without protection, I assume an abortion would suddenly gain favor.

And so, not totally by surprise we find this article at salon.com

https://www.salon.com/2018/05/17/is-donald-trump-literally-selling-off-womens-human-rights-for-personal-profit/

“The slow drip-drip of revelations about exactly how deep Donald Trump was in with the Russians comes out on top of a veritable sea of corruption stories flooding out of the White House. But one scandal that’s getting less attention might end up having more dramatic impacts in the long run. It could end up drastically undermining women’s rights to get abortions, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and even to protect themselves from cancer. New evidence suggests that Trump is, in effect, selling off women’s rights to religious fundamentalists, and personally profiting from doing so.”

It is certainly true that women’s rights have moved far down on the list of media priorities. There are so many attacks on various aspects of American traditions, laws, and practices that we mostly feel like victims of whiplash. Sleaze sells better than outrage. With hush money changing hands and Stormy Daniels piquing interest or moral judgment, and lawyers dominating our news cycles women’s issues, never of great interest to anyone other than women, have fallen by the wayside. (Although, of course, the treatment of Stormy Daniels, et al, is a women’s issue.)

“It’s not unusual, especially in the era of dark money, for special interests to buy off candidates by spending lavishly on campaigns. But with the SBA List’s hotel choice and questions about the Trump-inauguration money’s final destination, there’s strong reason to worry that Trump is simply profiting directly from influence-peddling. What anti-choice activists appear to be getting in exchange is terrifying: An all-out assault on legal abortion and affordable contraception that could roll back decades of progress for women’s autonomy and reproductive health,” says Amanda Marcotte, the author of the article.

Not all women enjoy child-rearing, at least not if it is all they are allowed to do. Women tend to be born with brains as functional as those of men. When women’s brains are solely concerned with healthy baby meals and children’s literature, songs and play activities it can make a grown human woman feel brain dead. I am not saying women don’t love their children. It would be great if all of the women who thrive on child-rearing could concentrate on that pleasure. I am saying that there are women who do not find fulfillment in raising children as their sole profession. In fact there are women who become depressed if they do not have a job to do out in the world away from their family for at least part of the day. There are women who go mad if they cannot create and study and read and exercise their minds just as they exercise their bodies. Much of Freud’s oeuvrewas based on the mental states of women who were suppressed in one way or another. Limiting human endeavors can have profound effects on anyone. There is scientific data about this if only these people valued science.

What will women’s lives be like when 45 is finished with us all? Will we be under the supervision of fundamentalist religious leaders as we see in other parts of the world? We can certainly see the relevance of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and why it has returned as a popular mini-series on TV. The battle was already lost for at least 4 years when Trump was elected. We resist but we worry. Will that be enough? And 45 is being handsomely paid to help take rights away from women? That just adds insult to injury.

See new developments 5/18/2018:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Rights Under Sneak Attack

Did you know that an obscure section of the Republican Tax Bill, if approved, could grant “personhood” to fetuses? The tax bill would allow you to open a College Savings account for your unborn child. This looks like a sneaky way to grant personhood to the unborn. Once a group of multiplying cells becomes defined as a person at conception, overturning women’s reproductive control over their own bodies will be a done deal, and women’s rights to choose will disappear. There is no way that this fraught issue should be settled in such an underhanded /backhanded way. When we approach this decision head-on personhood for embryos has not been popular enough to become the law of the land. We must always beware of 400+ page bills, but we should be even more wary of bills that are deliberately rushed to the floor to prevent public appraisal. This is not the tax deal the middle class is looking for.

https://rewire.news/article/2017/11/02/republicans-inject-extremist-fetal-personhood-language-tax-plan/

 

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Women have some idea of the challenges that men have historically faced, one of the toughest challenges being to go off to fight in wars. Men are expected to be kind and wise and to be incredibly responsible as citizens, workers, husbands and bread-winners. Women have some empathy for these male roles which many men obviously struggle against sometimes.

But not all men seem as understanding of the imperfect lives of women and the challenges they have faced and the challenges they still face. Almost every culture has traditions or laws or customs that circumscribe the lives of women; that hem them in to their own traditional roles as wives, housewives, child-bearers, child-raisers, household managers.

Often religion has been used to keep women close to home and uneducated. Many churches did not allow women to worship with men, and even primitive cultures that predate religion often had separate rituals for men and women. In modern novels there may be women ostensibly living in early cultures running around hunting with spears or fighting in wars, but in real life, I’m thinking, it was quite rare for a women to get a chance to learn or use these skills.

Women have been bought and sold, used as hostages, kidnapped to be sexual objects, been forced to suffer through clitoral mutilations so that they would find no pleasure from the sexual act, had their feet bound for the sexual pleasure of wealthy men, have been killed in honor killings for breaking any number of cultural rules or taboos and have suffered atrocities too numerous to mention.

Obviously life on earth has not always been, nor is it now, easy, regardless of someone’s sexuality. Since we have access to books and histories that allow us to view the lives of humans over hundreds of centuries we might be expected to learn from the histories and stories that we read. You would think that we would try to take some of the burdens off both men and women, and that we would ease each others’ journey through lives so full of the paradoxes like wealth and poverty, good and evil, health and illness, war and peace, joy and grief, pleasure and pain and more.

So why are some men still trying to control the lives of women and take away hard won rights and set back the fight to offer greater freedom to women around the globe to lead lives that are as full of opportunities to succeed or fail as are the lives of men? Just watch a TV offering like Dateline and you will see that men (mostly men) kill women for all kinds of reasons, like jealousy, or because they see murder as the only route to freedom, or there is some primitive impulse still in them that makes trying to murder a woman and get away with it attractive.

Men often have complicated feelings about women and women are often victims of emotions that men cover over for long periods of time with manners and a fog of romance perhaps. We see over and over that we may never actually know someone we have lived with for many years. Of course this can also be true of women, although they may not choose murder as a way out.

It is not difficult to see that the wiring in our brains may still resemble the wiring we had as Neanderthals. With 9 billion people due on the planet real soon we may have to give up our primitive imperatives and we may have to “fake it until we make it” to a more evolved wiring system in human brains.

Women in America came to believe that the ideals expressed by our forefathers, when they said all men are created equal, used the term men to stand for mankind and that this freedom did include women. America has offered women opportunities to fight for rights, many of them having to do with matters which have traditionally concerned women but some which have broadened the freedoms women could exercise in our world.

When I look back and see that women in America did not win the right to vote until 1920 it seems impossible that it could have taken so long to gain such a right. We have only had the right to control our own pregnancies since 1973 when Roe v Wade passed the Supreme Court and there has never been a day that someone has not wanted to chastise women for ever wanting to stop a child from being born, even though men have killed women for becoming pregnant inconveniently.

So I went to the Women’s March, January 21, 2017 (although I went locally and not to Washington) because the battle to take these hard won rights away from women has grown more fierce in the past 8 years, so much so that some stern male purists even want to take away our modern methods of contraception.

It makes perfect sense that I would want to go to a demonstration of our resistance to this attempt on the part of some men to take away rights women have won. It makes perfect sense that I would be happy at a rally where someone has a sign which reads “1958 is calling…we’re not answering” or where there is a sign that says “If you don’t have a uterus, then be quiet.”

I appreciate that so many men and boys attended the demonstrations. I appreciate their support of women and I am glad to see that there are men with healthy egos who are not threatened by women who express their skills, talents, and personalities. The presence of men also told the world that this resistance is a movement of the many American people who feel that the authoritarianism we have always tried to expose and overturn around the world is now a real threat to America that must be resisted.

Charles Blow said it really well in his article in the NYT this morning

“And the marches, which included quite a few men and boys as well, also represented more than that. They were a rebuke of bigotry and a call for equality and inclusion. They demonstrated the awesome power of individual outrage joined to collective action. And it was a message to America that the majority did not support this president or his plans and will not simply tuck tail and cower in the face of the threat. This was an uprising; this was a fighting back. This was a resistance.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/opinion/we-are-dissidents-we-are-legion.html?