Do we have a movement or a moment?
This was the question posed by Congressman Doggett on Saturday at the rally against the War On Women in Austin. I explored it in my post yesterday and came to the conclusion that it’s a movement. All kinds of people are interested, it’s bigger than just right now, and it’s nationwide. There has also been little media coverage, though there is much interest and the issue is very real. Let me run down the sequence of most recent events in that war and raise the question- Where do we go from here?
Back in the day, women were owned and considered property. We could not work outside the home. Then, we could not work and be mothers. We could not vote. Over the years all that has changed and sometimes we take it for granted that women were ever that oppressed. More recently, we are being reminded of our history as the attacks against women have been upped and have become more obvious.
It seems like people began to really notice that women were being attacked when Susan G. Komen dropped Planned Parenthood under pressure from the right wing to not give any money to them because they perform abortions. People across the nation spoke out about the importance of Planned Parenthood and how it does much more for women than provide abortions. This was quite a stir and it made people realize something was going on.
After that, the laws that Republicans have been putting into effect that take away women’s rights to make decisions for their bodies were called out. GOP representatives have been taking away all sorts of decisions from women to make choices about their bodies, like mandating a woman have a vaginal ultrasound and be given detailed descriptions of what is shown on the screen before having an abortion. This is an unnecessary medical procedure that women have no right to say No to if they want an abortion. It is vaginal penetration, which they have no right to say No to if they want an abortion. It is rape. People began to notice, especially when they were passing these laws in Virginia, though they had already passed in other states like Texas, Alabama, Arizona.
People see that it is state mandated rape and it forces women out of choice for their bodies and lives.
The debate about “personhood” and when a person becomes a person had been put on the table in the fall and was still being debated, especially in light of women not being treated as humans but people were advocating for week old fetuses to be called babies. This argument was all in the service of trying to push anti-choice agendas.
At the same time, abstinence only education is being promoted across the nation, even though it doesn’t work and result in more teen girls having babies.
Women’s healthcare was under attack from many different angles and then came contraception. Then the GOP began to attack birth control and laws Obama mandated about institutions not being able to decide they don’t have to offer birth control for religious reasons.
This means that a woman may need contraception to regulate health issues or for whatever reason and because the head of some place she works for says they don’t believe in it, she can’t get health care. It’s not employers who give women healthcare, it’s an HMO plan that usually workers pay the majority of. If employees are on a health plan, it’s not one person giving another birth control.
Rush Limbaugh then called Sandra Fluke a slut for speaking about women’s right to have access to contraception. He framed for America that women who speak out are sluts and prostitutes. He showed America that women should not speak up and that it’s okay to degrade them. He reinforced the notion that women are for men’s sexual pleasure by saying Fluke should send him her sex tape from all the sex she would be having. He dragged her through the mud and simultaneously put women in their place.
People started to say we have to protect religious freedom, without taking into account everyone’s religious freedom.
Women started to be more vocal about the GOP having launched a War On Women and immediately, the GOP began to call women crazy saying there is no War On Women, while they continued to pass bills taking away our rights and keeping us from being equal participants in the society.
Crazy? It has come our attention that 944 bills related to reproductive rights have been introduced in 45 states this year. Those affect women’s rights to make decisions for their bodies and lives. This is about freedom.
When women are seen as less than, which is what happens when our rights are taken away, we are devalued and dehumanized and the risk of violence against us goes up.
Then there was talk of the Violence Against Women Act being defunded so women, when raped, beaten, and hurt could not get help.
Georgia representative pushed to have victims of rape called accusers rather than victims. Florida took massive amounts of funding from rape crisis centers all over the state.
In Wisconsin the law was overturned that pushed for the pay gap between men and women to disappear. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became a huge issue as the GOP made statements like “money is more important for men” and there is “no wage gap” and the GOP has been fighting really hard for women to not be paid the same as men. We are still waiting for Romney to either support it or not. The GOP continues to argue that women aren’t paid less and would prefer he not support it.
There has been a lot of push to keep women unequal. It is like the GOP is rolling a snowball along in the snow. It keeps getting bigger and all the while, they say, there is no snowball.
People were upset and have been acting and speaking out. There were marches all over the nation on Saturday, but will the momentum keep up if there aren’t big glaring sexist comments all over the media and if the media has bought into the idea that there is no War On Women?
I think mostly people just want to live their lives and we all get busy doing just that. We’re trying to make a living, raise our kids, have fun with friends, occasionally take in a movie or play, maybe a museum, festival or concert. Going to a rally or a protest isn’t an event that people say “What fun!”
And yet, it’s not about fun, it’s about ensuring our rights for the future. This is not to say I didn’t have fun at the rally on Saturday. I met a lot of great people. I was motivated and inspired by everyone there, even by the few who were opposing the cause (they just made me realize how much work there is to do). That said, do I want to have to go march every weekend. No.
I will if it means preserving my rights, but I don’t want to have to- no one does. It takes time out from the lives we want to live. The GOP is counting on that.
If there is no voice against the War On Women now, women will have no rights. There are very real dangerous consequences to women losing their liberty. NOW IS THE TIME to stop the overturn of a century of women’s progress for equality!
We can’t let this be just a moment because the consequences of losing the war are long lasting.
Move into this movement. Make it MOVE.