Males have had control over pretty much everything in our world, from kingdoms and presidencies, to social policies and war. They’ve defined and written all major religions and almost every law on the books. They’ve built almost every educational institution and industry. The spoils of enforced patriarchy allowed them to virtually cut women out of every process except family. Historically, females seem almost insignificant from the neck up — as if we didn’t really exist outside of our wombs, writhing hips, or comforting breasts.
Man, not God, defined us as second-class citizens, servants, concubines, slaves, wives, whores, and witches, and we have lived with the consequences ever since. I don’t need to rewrite our sad, brutal history of forced servitude and limitations here, but it is a gross understatement to say that women have been systematically oppressed. However, there are many among us who would like to forget our history — who would like to say, ‘it’s a new day’ — even though it’s only been 92 years since we “won” the right to vote, and fewer than 40 years since the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated. In many parts of the world, the zygotic progress of Western women has had virtually no trickle-over effect: Women and girls are still considered chattel in many nations, particularly those ruled under the pretense of patriarchal religions.
We know all of this. I’m not saying anything new, but it begs the question: When are women going to stop participating in their own exploitation? When are we going to take the blinders off?
Who helped elect Todd Akin (R-Mo.), with his preposterous views on the rape of women? Who voted for the politicians that introduced over 1100 bills last year that sought to limit female reproductive rights? If you’re a Republican woman, the chances are that you did.
No matter what side of the abortion issue you are on, I have to ask: Why would any woman, especially those who have some understanding of history, believe that any part of a woman’s fate or future should be the decision of men?
It is too easy for women like me to rail against men like Akin. They are everywhere in this charade-based political climate, which uses religion as a tool of personal enrichment, and where social issues like abortion and welfare are merely smokescreens in a profiteering package. And yes, it’s true — the steady stream of propaganda has worked — there truly are a great many people who have let their prejudices, fears, and religious beliefs be stoked by the extreme right-wing. There are others who no longer believe in searching out facts, especially if they might cut through the dogma they get from Fox News. There are even more who stubbornly cling fast to the notion — for no logical reason at all, given current history — that conservatism equals a balanced budget and jobs.
The latter group is of particular concern for me, because it’s the Goldwater-type of Republicans, the ones I might otherwise respect most for their belief that government should stay out of people’s personal lives, who are letting men like Akin in. I’ve spoken with far too many Republican women who are willing to trade out personal rights and freedoms for mythical budgetary promises. “I believe in the right to choose,” one recently told me. “But at 47, that’s not my issue. I want less taxes and more personal accountabilty. More jobs, and less waste. Besides, I don’t believe Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned.”
It’s this attitude that makes me wonder — What the hell are you thinking, sister?
Goldwater is dead. Small-government Republicanism has gotten so wrapped up in faux religion, regressive social beliefs, and upping the fortunes of the rich that it cannot — repeat cannot — be parsed out. A vote for Republican austerity measures comes attached to issues of women’s reproductive rights, as well as to many other things that most rational people would repugnant, such as a rewriting of history to make the KKK look like a public service group, and educational bans against critical thinking.
You can’t — I can’t — make stuff like this up. It’s crazy, it’s backwards, it’s beyond idiocy. But the fact that so many moderate Republican women are willing to ignore it — to support their party and their “guy” no matter what – is beyond the pale and alarmingly short-sighted.
Rights that are given can also be removed. To purposely not recognize this — to believe that if it doesn’t personally affect you, it doesn’t matter — is dangerously apathetic. To take the long, long battle for the rights of women for granted is an unwarranted privilege of unconsciousness.
Wearing blinders won’t stop a tsunami from coming in, and women who vote on one issue while blithely ignoring the real and hideous consequences of the rest are nothing if not blind. We are half the population. We are underrepresented in politics, industry, law, and nearly every other facet of life except parenthood. If we all don’t start opening our eyes, if we don’t start supporting those who would increase our power, rather than those seeking to take it away, I fear we’re going to find our voices, our value as human beings, and our rights drowned out by increasing waves of oppression.