Saturday, February 19, 2011

Republican War on Women

The news this week from Washington is as chilling as ever.  Forced last week to back away from (though not give up) their incredible and cruel attempt to redefine rape in such a way that women and girls (and even men and young boys) could be victimized, raped and abused in countless ways without legal protections or human rights,  the Republicans in Congress decided to attack the safety, health and autonomy of millions of women this week by voting to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

Please read this short list of the recent attacks by religious conservatives,  through their political arm the Republican party, on the dignity, humanity, rights and freedoms of women and girls in the USA

The monstrous hypocrisy of the Republicans (not to mention the religious right) is truly frightening.

What I cannot understand is why the attack on women which is spreading over this country isn't getting front page attention on all of the news sources! In just the last month alone, Republicans (bowing to pressure from the religious right which seems to own their souls) have made attempts to redefine rape (!!), take away reproductive rights and to greatly reduce access to what reproductive options women still can legally choose - if they can find them at all.   Reproductive choice for women has become more and more difficult in the last two decades as Republican-led efforts to undermine reproductive rights has succeeded in making not just abortion, but also female-controlled contraception less and less available to millions of women.

I cannot believe the hatred and contempt in which the religious right - and now the Republican party -apparently hold women. The language is always fetus-focused while implacably unmoved by the plight  of the women whose lives are impacted by unplanned pregnancy, let alone respectful of their civil rights. Every argument for rights for the women is met with vague deflections (except by the most blatantly misogynistic) but the bottom line is this: the religious right seems to be driving toward a point where no woman can be allowed to have full human rights in this country.

It appears more and more likely that if conservatives get what they want,  then it is actually possible that in the near future no woman in the USA will be free to have sexual relationships of her own choosing, nor be able to time pregnancies as she wishes. 

The goal seems to be to strip women of their sexual freedom totally, leaving them at the mercy of the whims of the men they encounter.  Some of those men will be honorable and decent human beings who will not abuse women (though every sexual encounter will mean a possible pregnancy unless he doesn't want one and takes male-controlled steps to avoid it), but too many others will do what some men have done since the beginning of time: opportunistically prey on women who have been stripped of power, coerce or force sex on them and inevitably (in a world where reproductive rights and freedoms of women have been restricted to the point of a privilege for the wealthy) cause an unwanted pregnancy - the consequences of which the women will then face alone.

I cannot understand why women are not protesting in the streets.  Why are there not thousands protesting in front of the Capitol?  And yet,  I do sort of see what happened.

First, this has not been widely covered in the media so many women do not realise that their very status as fully human beings in this society is in peril - and that is a shameful dereliction of journalistic duty.

Second, I think too many women assume that since Roe vs Wade has survived numerous attacks in the courts and legislatures (even though nearly every attack has weakened it and chipped away at it) that the 1973 law can "never" be overturned and women's reproductive freedom will always be protected, even as we lose more power over our own bodies and destinies through creeping state and federal laws every year.

Third, the religious right has been allowed to control the message, the language and the power around reproductive rights for so long that women are intimidated (I won't say terrorized, but it may come to that) and afraid to speak up or protest because they feel so outnumbered and certainly far weaker than the huge, wealthy anti-choice machine.

Women - and men who respect and love women - need to stand up and speak out!   We need to launch a protest in Washington and not be silent any longer!  We have given too much control over this debate to the religious right and it is time that moral, upstanding, loving men and women stand up and speak out for protection of our civil rights!