Where Are Women's Voices?
Are women, as children once were told, expected to be seen but not heard? Despite the fact that women outnumber men, that they hold more professional degrees, that they nearly equal men's numbers in the workplace and that most mothers work by choice or by necessity, women's voices are eerily absent from discussions on policies which impact their health, their rights and their futures.
I find it disturbing that women are increasingly at the center of a national debate about values, morals and religion, but they're not in the debate. I am not concerned about an open and thoughtful debate of reproductive freedom, women's health, family values or the future of education. What worries me is that women's voices are not being sought. They're being shouted down. Or they're being ignored.
The Virgina House of Delegates passed legislation defining life as beginning at conception.
According to the Washington Post, “Opponents say that the bill moves a step closer to outlawing abortion outright, should the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision be overturned and that it would make some forms of birth control illegal.”
Where are the women's voices?
“Delegate Vivian E. Watts, Fairfax Democrat, proposed an amendment Monday to ensure that contraception would remain legal, but it was rejected.”
Former presidential candidate and current Conservative talk show host Mike Huckabee told a Conservative Political Action Committee audience that President Obama's recent ruling that all work insurance plans should cover contraception has rallied Conservatives together.
“We're all Catholic now,” he said.
That, of course, ignores the fact that 98% of Catholic women say they've used some form of birth control.
The most egregious example is the recent House hearing on contraceptives which invited no women to testify on day one. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa explained the all-male, conservative Christian panel by saying the discussion was about religious liberty. But the discussion was focused on the consequences when women are denied insurance coverage which includes contraception. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and two other Democrats walked out of the hearing in protest.
“Half the population of this country are women, and we will not be sent back to the Dark Ages, and we will not be denied our rights,” Maloney told the press.
Former Senator Rick Santorum's campaign for President is gaining momentum as he digs deeper into hard line ultra-conservative principles. He says he and his wife use no contraception except the Catholic church-sanctioned rhythm method. They have seven children. They've been home schooled by his wife, Karen Garver Santorum, with subsidies from the state.
The Daily Beat notes that Santorum's momentum means increased scrutiny of his views. “In his 2006 book It Takes a Family, Santorum wrote that “the radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness,” the kind of swipe that might seem to denigrate working women.'
And now he tells us that wanting a college education makes our children “snobs.”
Unlike 2008, there is no credible woman presidential candidate.
I want to know where the women are. What do women have to say? Where is that being reported? Where is the debate among women?
US Senate Republican Olympia Snowe, a moderate, is leaving at the end of the year. She said Washington has become too divisive and she doubts she could “be productive” in her fourth term.
Another woman's voice gone.
But men have plenty to say. Here's NBC.com's report on Conservative bigmouth Rush Limbaugh's latest rant:
Limbaugh on Wednesday had referred to student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” for supporting a requirement that health insurance cover contraception. On his radio show Thursday, Limbaugh went a little further:
"So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch."
Who speaks for women? Where are the women's voices?
Women have been fighting too long for equal rights, for equal pay, for equal opportunity and for the respect we deserve. We may not be united in our views, but we are united in our common experience as daughters, as wives, as mothers and as women. And we will speak out.
That was demonstrated very clearly when the Susan G. Komen Foundation withdrew its funding for Planned Parenthood. A massive backlash from women outraged by what they saw as a political decision impacting millions of low-income women forced a quick about-face.
Many Americans are concerned about the future. The Ozzie and Harriet world of the fifties was never as simple as it looked on television, but it was so appealing. We live in a very different world today. Families can't get by on one income. The hope that our children will have a better life than we did is fading fast. The middle class is being crushed. And there are some folks who are convinced that the answer is to turn back the clock. They see a full out assault on sexual freedom as the answer.
It's a real battle going on right now, and women are being treated like political pawns.
We have opinions and they must be considered when questions concerning our bodies and our lives are being discussed. We will demand to be heard, but we'd far prefer to be asked.
For more on these issues, visit the 51% page at WAMC – http://wamc.org/prog-51.html
Show #1180 – Sally Denton – Patriarchy and Mormonism
Show #1182 Delegate Vivian Watts, Virginia Legislature
Show #1183 Nancy Cohen – Delirium – the Sexual Counterrevolution
Show #1184 Jess McIntosh – Emily's List
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Barnett is the producer and host of 51%
The Women’s Perspective,
a weekly women’s issues radio show carried nationally on NPR,
ABC and Armed Forces Radio stations. 51% The Women’s Perspective
is part of WAMC
- Northeast Public Radio's national productions. "The View From Outside," Susan Barnett's new collection of short fiction, is available in eBook format at Amazon and Barnes and Noble through Hen House Press. You can connect with her on Facebook.
Photo by DB Leonard.