I’ve been think about the rights of women a LOT lately. There are so many examples of what’s wrong – and to be sure a couple that are right – that it’s overwhelmed me. (And it’s taken at least a couple weeks to write this piece.)
In New York State, “The Women’s Equality Agenda will safeguard women’s health, extend protections against sexual harassment in the workplace, help to achieve pay equity, and increase protections against discrimination in employment, housing, credit and lending.” Sounds wonderful, of course. The big hangup for some is over abortion rights, a huge issue.
But I think the conversation about whether there is a “war on women” had been framed too much on abortion and birth control – sometimes reframed by the talking heads, to be sure.
Though there does seem to be a sexual component in all of this. In his review about Fiona Apple’s song Criminal, MDS writes: “Let’s just admit something up front right now: as a society, we are all pretty much terrified of girls and young women having sex. Terrified. Been that way since the beginning of time, I guess. Which is why for a while there we bottled up virginity in exchange for land before the wedding ceremony. Chastity belts and dowries are mostly archaic things that no society really trades in anymore, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t figured out new ways of badly dealing with girls and young women and their sex-having. We slut-shame. A lot.”
You’ll find a gender issues in comics and other entertainment, including the suggestion that the woman of a married couple in the comic business got where she was because of him, when she in fact had several credits before they even dated. Someone complains about the lack of female protagonists in video games is savaged on Twitter.
So, is there a “war on women” when women at war are being raped? Recently, and I’m quoting Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) here: “The Senate Armed Services Committee held its first full hearing on sexual assault in the military in a decade. Of the twenty witnesses, only two were there as victim advocates. The other 18 were representing the top ranks of the military and uniformly opposed our efforts to reform the military justice system.”
Meanwhile, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) suggested that the “hormone level created by nature” was to blame for rapes in the military and that all pregnant servicewomen should be investigated to make sure their condition was the result of consensual sex.
Former baseball star Jose Canseco’s defense of a rape allegation against him is that he doesn’t HAVE to rape to get a women to bed, showing his sheer ignorance. Then he makes his situation worse by going on Twitter and attacks his accuser by name.
What caught my attention more recently was comedian Patton Oswalt’s reversal about rape as a source of humor. “I was secure in thinking my point of view was right. That ‘rape culture’ was an illusion, that the examples of comedians telling ‘rape jokes’ in which the victim was the punchline were exceptions that proved the rule. I’ve never wanted to rape anyone. No one I know has ever expressed a desire to rape anyone. My viewpoint must be right. Right?” It’s long (addresses two other topics) and rambling, but makes an interesting point.
A report on working moms came out. It showed that 40% of the households have moms that are either sole breadwinners or making more than their husbands; BTW, that latter category would include MY household. The men at FOX News were so histrionic: “Society dissolv[ing] around us,” said Lou Dobbs. A sign of “something going terribly wrong in American society,” said Juan Williams. Erick Erickson chimed in and said having moms as breadwinners was against “biology” and said people who defend moms are “anti-science.”
Happily, they got slammed by their female colleagues on FOX, including Megan Kelly. This particular article also disses some of the MSNBC women for not calling to task the men on their network, notably Chris Matthews, over the stupid, hateful things THEY have said. Don”t know if it’s Rachel Maddow’s job to do so, but I agree that Matthews, for one, has made vile, sexist comments, especially about Hillary Clinton.
I haven’t even scratched the surface:, e.g., Texas governor Rick Perry recently vetoed an equal pay bill. Instead, I’ll hang on my great hope from the words of Jean Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, which you should just watch. He speaks, among other things, about the role men must play in curbing violence against women.