Friday, April 27, 2012

The Allegedly Nonexistent War on Women

I’ve been meaning to blog about the War on Women, but the Republicans assure me that there is, in fact, no War on Women, any more than there is a War on Caterpillars. Whew, what a relief!

No, it’s not a war on women per se. It is only a war on UPPITY women: Women who expect equal pay for equal work. Women who want their medications to be covered by insurance. Women who, for some unfathomable reason, believe they should have a choice as to whether and when they will bear children. Women who want, incredibly, the same property rights over their own bodies that the Constitution gives a man over his house, “The Castle Doctrine,” which even permits the use of deadly force against an invader. Women who believe that the 13th Amendment’s prohibition of involuntary servitude ought to apply to them. And finally, those uppity nuns who have the audacity to focus their energies on Jesus’ command to help the poor, while neglecting to support the Vatican campaign against contraception and gay marriage.

The War is only against these particularly evil women, these sluts, jezebels, heathen feminazis. There is no War against all the truly patriotic American women who obey their husbands and are content with being barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen, tending to their home, staying out of the workforce, and producing as many offspring as possible - boys to become soldiers and tax-paying slaves of the corporations, and girls to become future breeders. These women understand that our most valuable (and indeed, only legitimate) contribution to society is breeding, which is, after all, our God-given duty as women.

One of my Republican female friends has stated, “The real War on Women is the war against our wallets!” This is certainly true to an extent, particularly in so far as approximately 15-17% of all American women, and between 34-40% of single mothers, live in poverty. Mr. Romney’s proposed Flat Tax would raise taxes on the poorest among us while lowering taxes drastically on the very rich. (3) With the economy in shambles, certainly this is a concern for everyone, especially women.

But protecting my bank account ultimately won’t do me any good if my own body doesn’t belong to me, and this, rather than creating jobs, has been the bulk of the Republican agenda. Numerous bills (916 at latest count) have been introduced in the last few years specifically intended to limit women’s reproductive rights, both in terms of abortion as well as limiting access to contraception. Some Republicans have even gone so far as to suggest that contraception should be outlawed, overturning the 1965 Supreme Court decision which declared contraception protected under the Constitutional principle of “privacy.” (A principle which many Republicans claim does not exist, except where it applies to the contents of a politician's tax return.)

I am not going to go into depth on the whole abortion topic, as I have already done so at great length in the past. (1) But briefly, from the standpoint of private property rights, which every Republican claims to support, it makes no sense to assert that my home is inviolable (well, at least until the bank repossesses it when I can’t afford to pay the mortgage) while at the same time saying that the most private parts of my body belong to the spawn of any man who manages to impregnate me with or without my consent.

But, doesn’t the “baby” – or fertilized ovum – have a right to live?! Ok, let’s put this in perspective: Does a homeless war veteran who risked his own life defending our freedom (or maybe, corporate economic interests) have a right to live? Certainly! When winter comes he will die of exposure on the street. Does that then give him a right to live in YOUR house? Of course not! But, homelessness has become a big problem in America. Let’s imagine it gets even worse and all the shelters are overflowing, and the Democrats in Congress pass a law stating that if any person manages to get into your house, or if you invite them in for any reason, they will have “homestead” rights allowing them to live in your house and be supported by you for 39 weeks. Any conservative worth his or her salt would be beside themselves with rage if President Obama were to sign such a bill, and rightly so – it’s clearly communism! Yet they have absolutely no qualms about instituting laws that would require a woman to carry a fetus inside of her body for 39 weeks against her will.

The proposed “personhood” law will not give a fetus “equal rights.” Rather, it will give a fertilized ovum (even prior to implantation) rights exceeding those of any born person: The right to use a woman’s genitals against her will. If anybody else were to do that for even a few minutes it would be a criminal offense called “rape,” while the fetus is given the right to stay inside of her uterus for 39 weeks. This requires involuntary servitude on the woman's part to carry the fetus, nourish it and process its wastes, at the end of which time she will undergo literally “forced labor.”

Some have argued that the woman’s “choice” was made when she agreed to have sex, (2) which is absurd. Having sex no more constitutes agreement to carry a pregnancy to term, than inviting somebody over for dinner implies an agreement to let them stay in your house and be fed by you for 39 weeks. Of course, the analogy is incomplete unless the dinner guest (or homeless person) on the day of their departure is allowed to punch you in the abdomen repeatedly for hours on end and then tear the front door off its hinges when leaving.

Inevitably someone will say at this point, “But the Bible is pro-life!” First of all, no it isn’t (refer to link, below). Secondly, even if it were, thank God America is not a theocracy. I would not be comfortable with United States law being based on the Bible. While I don’t eat shellfish or pork, and I wouldn’t particularly miss wearing clothes made of two types of fabric, (all of which the Bible forbids), some of the other biblical laws do trouble me. I’m really not in favor of executing rebellious children, although admittedly there are times when it would be attractive, especially when they are teenagers, and it certainly would help with the overpopulation problem, but I think it’s going a bit too far. I also don’t think it is fair that a girl who is raped in the city should be put to death along with her rapist because she didn’t scream loudly enough, nor that a girl who is raped in the country should be forced to marry her rapist. (Deut. 22:23-29).

 I can get on board with some of the biblical laws, though. It would be great if the banks weren’t allowed to charge us interest, if employers had to pay us daily, factory farms had to allow the poor to scavenge for food in their fields, and all our debts were cancelled every 7 years! But, I guess we can’t pick and choose. Anyway this country was founded on freedom of religion, which necessarily includes freedom FROM religion, which I am sure conservatives would agree is a very GOOD thing when it comes to religions other than their own; if, say, the Muslim population grew to outnumber other religions and would have the voting power to institute Sharia law.

But I digress. Uppity women (you know who you are!) it’s time you were put in your place. So please vote Republican, as long as we women are still allowed to vote. They've been saying that maybe giving us the right to vote wasn't such a smart idea, either, and that might be next.

(2) Leaving aside for the moment the great many instances in which sex is nonconsensual, whether violent rape by a stranger, or “date rape,” or an abusive marriage; but, the prevailing Republican opinion at this time is that it doesn’t matter whether it was consensual or not, the woman should be forced to carry the pregnancy to term regardless.
(3) When this post was originally published in April, Mr. Romney was talking about a flat tax; he hasn't said anything about that lately.  The Tax Policy Center suggests that the current Romney tax plan would raise taxes on the poor and middle class, although to be fair it's difficult to know since he refuses to actually spell out his plan.

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