Where are the Women?

By Josephine Styles
SC Staff Writer

In 1970, Helen Reddy, along with Ray Burton, wrote lyrics for one of the most famous songs reflecting that time’s beginning women’s movement: “I am woman, hear me roar/ In numbers too big to ignore/ And I know too much to go back an’ pretend/ ‘Cause I’ve heard it all before/ And I’ve been down there on the floor/ No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.” Have I got ‘ya singin’? Good. Keep this message in mind. This same sentiment can be applied to what is happening today. Forty-two years later, women still have to fight for their rights.

Recently, the GOP has made a deliberate and destructive attack on women. Mark my words: This war on women’s health, reproductive rights, and equality will continue to worsen if nothing is done. But don’t take my word for it. Sally Kohn of Fox News agrees that there definitely is a war on women, saying, “While women voters might rather focus on jobs and the economy, watching Republicans jeopardize women’s health and reproductive freedom while slandering those who try and stand in their way is enough to make women demand not only good jobs and fair pay but political leaders who respect the liberty and rights of women in America.” Among Republicans, however, at least two have stated there really is no war on women. That it is just “Democratic conspiracy.” Not surprisingly, one of these Republicans was Rush Limbaugh. Go figure.

But let’s take one step back for a moment. Not only is there an attack on women—there’s even an attack on girls. Yep. That’s right: girls. Take, for instance, the Girl Scouts. Indiana lawmaker Bob Morris has made controversial remarks regarding one of the largest and most well-known organizations for young girls. According to Los Angeles Times, they relate that “discussion and research led to his conclusions that the Girl Scouts encourage sexual activity, are a front for Planned Parenthood, and that scouts are encouraged to look up to role models who endorse feminist, lesbian, and Communist agendas.” So, if by feminist agendas you mean creating strong, educated, and independent women, then shame on those girls. If by lesbian agendas you mean allowing them to realize who they really are, then damn those little brats. And Communist agendas—I don’t even know how you got that one. Oh, Mr. Morris, don’t you know that Wikipedia is not a good research site to use? Planned Parenthood replied to Mr. Morris’ remarks, making a statement denying ties to the organization. Furthermore, Girl Scouts of America released their own statement, saying, “Not only is Rep. Morris off the mark on his claims, it’s also unfortunate in his limited research that he failed to discover that since 1917, every First Lady has served as the honorary leader of Girl Scouts, including Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Laura Bush.”

As for the attack on women, Republicans have been taking advantage of every chance they can get to reverse the progression of women’s rights, and I’ll begin first with Planned Parenthood. Let’s get something straight here: Planned Parenthood—you know that bad, bad place that Republicans want to defund? This would be a catastrophic impact on hundreds of thousands of women’s health. According to their website, “One in five women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at least once in her life,” and only “three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services.” Nearly 750,000 breast exams and 770,000 Pap tests are performed at Planned Parenthood centers yearly. If funding for Planned Parenthood stops, where are these women supposed to go?

Now Mr. Limbaugh—he’s quite the character. Less than a month ago, radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, made disgusting, inappropriate, and misogynistic remarks against Georgetown University Law student, Sandra Fluke. According to Ms. Blog Magazine, Ms. Fluke came into the news when “House Republicans refused to allow her to testify at a hearing on whether mandating insurance coverage of birth control violated ‘religious freedom.’” No women were invited to speak at the main panel until “House Democrats held another hearing on the subject, inviting Sandra Fluke as the sole witness. Fluke emphasized the importance of the Obama administration’s rule to ensure that students at Catholic schools, such as herself, have access to contraceptive coverage—both for birth control purposes and to treat a host of medical conditions, such as ovarian cysts and endometriosis.” During his broadcast, Limbaugh proclaimed, “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan [sic] Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, he also said that he and the taxpayers want something in return then. She and other women should post sex tapes online. Are you kidding me, Rush? Can you see how degrading that is to Ms. Fluke and women in general? Rachel Maddow—who I just love—dives into a specific part of what Limbaugh stated. Read this other statement by Limbaugh: “Ms. Fluke, have you ever heard of not having sex? Have you ever heard of not having sex so often?” Apparently Rush Limbaugh doesn’t know how birth control works. On her show, Maddow emphasized, “Sometimes people are being mean because the fact that they don’t understand something makes them angry. I think Rush Limbaugh doesn’t know what birth control is. I think he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. I think that Rush Limbaugh thinks you take a birth control pill to avoid getting pregnant each time you have sex, so the more times you have sex the more birth control pills you need. You just take one pill every day,” she said. “It’s a prescription deal…you don’t need more birth control to keep you not pregnant for more sex.”

I suggest Rush Limbaugh know what he’s talking about before he goes on-air. Or better yet—maybe he shouldn’t talk at all.

When I first learned about this next proposed bill, my jaw dropped. Jezebel relates that “A proposed new law in Arizona would give employers the power to request that women being prescribed birth control pills provide proof that they’re using it for non-sexual reasons,” and as a result, this bill would give employers the right to not hire or terminate their female employee if she is.

In other words, House Bill 2625 allows women to be fired for using birth control for sexual activity. Does this bill also include married women or just those unmarried whores? I wonder what other proposed bills these lawmakers will come out with next. Pretty soon they’ll be having women back in the home, popping out baby after baby. You can take action against this by googling and visiting the site “Tell Politicians: Don’t Play Politics With Women’s Health.”

As Addicting Info relates, in Pennsylvania, House Bill 1077 would require a woman to undergo “an ultrasound, hear the fetal heartbeat, and present images of the fetus to her abortion provider before she can get an abortion.” The sponsor of this bill, GOP Rep. Kathy Rapp, does not specify what kind of ultrasound the woman must go through, but because most abortions in PA are conducted in the first trimester, a transvaginal ultrasound would most commonly be used. For those of you who may not know what this is, according to Harvard Health Publications, “For a transvaginal ultrasound, the doctor or technician covers a sensor with a condom and some jelly before inserting it into [a woman’s] vagina. When the sensor is in place, a picture will appear on a video screen. The technician or doctor moves the sensor on [her] abdomen or in [her] vagina to see the uterus and ovaries from many different views.” Now—think about a woman who was raped, having to go through this invasive procedure. Some individuals are arguing this is rape, state sanctioned rape. If this bill is passed and the procedure being performed is against her will, this rape victim is being raped again. AGAIN! But—at least women can take Governor Tom Corbett’s advice and just “close your eyes.”

Just a little newsflash for you Republican candidates out there—women make up 51% of the population, and most of us are not happy. With these various bill proposals you’re trying to pass, do you really think these bills will make some women Republican voters pleased? Do you really think you can win over the undecided women voters? Let me make it clear for you: no. Let’s review, shall we? Here’s Republicans’ standpoint—have no birth control, which would equal more unwanted pregnancies, which would then equal more abortions. (Raises eyebrow in confusion.) Anyone else see the illogic in this agenda? Speaking of illogic, on the Colbert Report, the very famous and funny Stephen Colbert commented further on a statement made by Rick Santorum about contraception: “Contraception leads to more babies born out of wedlock [referencing Santorum] the exact same way that fire extinguishers cause fires.” I honestly did not know for sure who I was going to vote for in this upcoming election, but now I am quite certain, it’s definitely not going to be a Republican. Hello, Obama!

Even if I look past the fact of women starting to lose their reproductive rights, I cannot look past this inequality issue. I have not heard about men losing insurance coverage for their Viagra. There is no proposed bill giving employers the right to fire men who are having sex by taking Viagra. Can you say hypocrisy? When men have sex, they never get “punished.” Our society—or most of it—does not like when women have sex but view it “natural” or permissible for men. Take, for example, the Aspirin joke that Foster Friess, a Rick Santorum supporter, made to Andrea Mitchell, from MSNBC, in February: “You know, back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.” The whole “funny” purpose of putting an Aspirin between a woman’s legs is so that they remain closed, so she can’t have sex, otherwise known as abstinence, not using a contraceptive. But why would a woman have to close her legs unless there was a man wanting to open them? Hence, my point: if a woman wants to or is having sex, there is also a man involved (if she is a heterosexual). “Back in [Friess’] days” as well as now, women are being denied freedom and rights as equal beings to men. Did Friess have anything to say about the man wanting to have sex with the woman? Oh, wait—never mind. He has a penis, not a vagina.

Do not take this reaction as me or my gender being nagging, insane, or bitchy. I. Am. Angry. I am angry that women are losing their personal rights and equality. I am angry that hardly any women are on governmental panels, representing, discussing, and making decisions. I am angry that because I post links and statuses on Facebook pertaining to this issue, I receive a message from a female friend saying, “All I see you write about is women, women, women. If you ever plan on meeting a guy, you need to slow down on that stuff. It makes you look like you like women more than [sic] men.” I am angry that men are making decisions about my body and how to control it. And I am angry because I see a trend to slowly erase the wonderful things that so many women have fought for throughout decades and even centuries.

Let me also make something else clear. As a feminist, women’s rights supporter, and activist, and writer of this article, I do not hate men, nor do I think men hate women. I think that some men believe they have a God-given higher authority over women. I think that some men believe they should have greater defense for an un-born child than for a woman. I think that some men believe they need to impose their religious beliefs on others, particularly at this time being women. I love you men; I really do, especially the men who advocate and support alongside their girlfriend, wife, daughter, sister, niece, or friend.

I have to say that I am nervous for the women of today. I am scared for the women of the future. The issues and proposed bills I discussed in this article are just a handful of what is happening throughout the country. If you feel compelled to stand and fight with fellow women and men, there are two marches in Washington D.C. planned: April 28th, 2012 and a to-be-announced date in September of 2012. Please visit this website for more information: http:// www.wearewoman.us/2012/03/we-are-woman-march-on-washington-dc.html.

In an article from Huffington Post by Soraya Chemaly, feminist, satirist, and media critic, she writes, “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’.” Many people say there’s no way there’s a war on women. My question for them is “What do you think Sojourner Truth would say?”


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