The War on Women: A Progressive Man’s View

Posted on April 10, 2012


Feminist Wire, April 9, 2012 by Vincent Martin

A (self-admitted) conservative male acquaintance recently asked me what the War on Women means. Herein I will attempt to answer him.

First, let me provide a shortened definition of War: War is an organized, armed, and often a prolonged conflict that is carried on between states, nations, or other partiestypified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality…” For the past ten years or so, there has been a nationwide assault by Right-wing Conservatives in this nation on women’s reproductive health (birth control, abortion, and access those services, etc.) that could certainly fit the definition of War. The political, social, and moral assaults by all strata of conservatism at the federal, state, and local levels of government across the U.S. have been unrelenting in nature and socially disruptive.

This Republican/Conservative sponsored War on Women has reached a fulcrum in the last two years, as state after state has introduced legislation designed to limit women’s access to abortion and or contraceptives and the health clinics set up to administer them. The nation’s most visible women’s health organization, Planned Parenthood, has come under withering, sustained, and unrelenting attack by the denizens of the Right for its support of abortion services to mostly low-income women across the nation.

The morality-based attack (most recently dressed up in the guise of religious freedom and thereby a question of Constitutional freedom) on women’s reproductive health issues across the nation certainly seems coordinated and calculated by the Right-wing and carried out by the Republican Party and their minions (e.g., Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Fox News) to disrupt and or upset established societal norms that were hard fought for and codified in establish law since the mid-1960s.

Below are links to some of the actions taking place on the battle-front:

  1. Texas Loses Entire Women’s Health Program Over Planned Parenthood Law
  2. Arizona Birth Control Bill Penalizes Women for Using Contraception For Non-Medical Reasons
  3. Republican-Controlled Arizona Legislature On Cusp Of Defunding Planned Parenthood
  4. Virginia Senate Passes Controversial Ultrasound bill
  5. Gov. Corbett Defends Pennsylvania Ultrasound Bill Because ‘It’s Not Invasive’
  6. Top Ten Shocking Attacks from the GOP’s War on Women
  7. Over Half Of Women Of Reproductive Age Live In Abortion-Hostile States
  8. Mitt Romney on Planned Parenthood: We Will ‘Get Rid’ of It
  9. Rick Santorum: Women In Combat Could Create ‘Compromising Situation’ Because Of ‘Emotions’
  10. Rick Santorum To Single Mothers: Government Paternity Tests Or No Welfare
  11.  Senate Strikes Down Blunt Amendment on Contraception Rule
  12. Romney clarifies stance on Blunt Amendment: “Of course” I’m for it
  13. Limbaugh Calls Student Denied Spot At Contraception Hearing A ‘Slut’
  14. New Hampshire House Passes A Bill That Falsely Claims Abortion Causes Breast Cancer
  15. Mississippi House Passes Measure Aimed At Closing The State’s Only Abortion Clinic
  16. Idaho Anti-Abortion Bill Could Send Women Seeking Abortions To Crisis Pregnancy Centers
  17. Georgia Republican Compares Women to Cows, Pigs, And Chickens
  18. Kansas Anti-Abortion Bill Threatens Doctors’ Training
  19. Florida Anti-Abortion Bill Faces Uncertainty In Senate After House Passage
  20. Indiana Lawmaker Accuses Girl Scouts Of Pushing ‘Pro-Abortion’ Agenda, ‘Homosexual Lifestyles’
  21. The War on Women in the Courts

For me, the War on Women being waged by Conservatives/Republican Party is neither a moral nor an ethical issue, but one of the fundamental civil and human rights of women. The moral argument fails if the rights of women as full citizens in this nation are to be respected and upheld, and if women are to be afforded equal protection under law! This is a war with abortion and religion at its corrupted core.

Like it or not, detest it or not, support it or not, abortion is legal in the United States as settled by Roe vs. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). While the language of Roe does mandate a compelling state interest in the third trimester, and does suggest women use their choice in consultation with their medical professional, in the end, a woman has a right to choose if, when, how, and where she will carry a child; her womb, her choice!  A woman’s womb does not belong to the state, nor to society, it is her, inside her body, it is a part of her, like a kidney, a bladder, a heart, a lung.

Women’s wombs are not public property, nor do they belong to the Catholic Church, or to any religion for that matter; and they should not be the subject of public debate or public laws designed to govern their use and disposition.

The current onslaught of proposed and enacted laws is stunning in their seeming hatred and disrespect of women at a primal level, as they not only seek to make it next to impossible to obtain an abortion (Alabama is seeking to close the lone abortion clinic in the state), but to separate pregnant women from all other citizens, thereby creating a class of citizens whose every activity is scrutinized by the state and subject to criminal prosecution, as in the case of (then 15-year old) Rennie Gibbs who faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

These onerous and despicable laws not only seek State control over what a woman does with her body, her vagina, her womb, but would give that power to almost anyone else who seeks it as well (e.g., employers, insurance companies, clergy, husbands, boyfriends, rapists); anyone, that is, except the woman. In these legislative proposals, she is but a child, a scatterbrained, emotionally driven female who must be guided through life by level-headed (White) men who know best. These laws are debasing, demeaning, mean-spirited, misogynistic, and hateful; they are an affront to everything this nation is supposed to represent. And they must not be allowed to stand.

Noted feminist, satirist, and media critic Soraya Chemaly encapsulated the War on Women best in a recent article entitled: 10 Reasons the Rest of the World Thinks the U.S. Is Nuts in the Huffington Post, in which she wrote: “Mr. England unlike the calves and pigs for which you expressed so much empathy, I am not a beast of burden. I am a woman and I have these human rights:

The right to life.
The right to privacy.
The right to freedom.
The right to bodily integrity.
The right to decide when and how I reproduce.”

She went on to state: My human rights outweigh any you or the state corruptly and cynically seek to assign to a mass of dividing cells that will eventually turn into a ‘natural’ person. Personhood-for-zygote based bills and related legislation, like Georgia’s and hundreds of others, bills and laws that criminalize pregnancy and abortion and penalize women for being women, violate my human rights.”

Both she and I are pissed!!

I am tired of having to fight for rights that are already guaranteed under the Federal and all fifty state constitutions. Are these laws, these stains on the intellect and common decency of any rational human being, the mark of an “exceptional” nation Mr. Santorum?  I say no, far, far, from it!  I want America to be exceptional, to live out the lofty principles of her founding. But how can we, as a nation of over 300 million diverse people, move ahead when Conservative Republicans seek to drag us back to 1900 (or earlier) with their archaic, openly misogynist laws?

This is not the nation I want to bequeath to my four daughters and my eight nieces; a country wherein they are branded “sluts” and “prostitutes” for daring to have sex outside of marriage like so many men habitually do.  This is not the nation I want to live in now where such hatred towards my wife, my daughters, my nieces, my friends is tolerated and held up as sane when in fact, it is denigrating and degrading to ALL women, and ultimately to all Americans.

At the end of her article, Soraya Chemaly wrote: In an 1851 speech in which she argued for equal rights for women, Sojourner Truth said the following: ‘The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble.’”

And so, I have joined the battle on the side of the Angels because I truly believe in equal rights for all Americans, not just some. Human rights are universal, and they are not just for those who wield a penis and wear fair skin. We all deserve to live our lives with dignity, respect, and a modicum of happiness no matter where and how we choose to seek it.

Men: women are sexual beings, they want and enjoy sex every bit as much as we do, deal with it! Abortion is legal, and contraception is a medical necessity for a modern American woman’s reproductive health; deal with it. Women are not our playthings, they are not our property; they are human beings who deserve our respect, our understanding, and our support!

And so, I fight side-by-side with women on this issue, I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my beautiful wife, daughters, nieces, friends, and citizens to let them know THIS man has their backs!  Like them, I will see these laws and these men—and in some sad cases, women—turned out of office, and struck from the airwaves and this hateful, destructive War on Women brought to a swift close with the victory flag waving high on the side of the Progressive, the rational, the sane.

Enough is enough.

Have you had enough? Join us on April 28, 2012 for the National Protest Against The War on Women being held in all 50 states simultaneously.

___________________________

Vincent Martin is a retired 15-year Navy Veteran, who now lives in Aurora, IL with his wife of 12 years.  Vincent works for a mid-sized financial services firm in Chicago, IL.  Vincent has four daughters, ranging in age from 17 – 32.

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