The ongoing Republican War on Women is kind of like a game of whack-a-mole. Every time you bang one stupid idea in the head, two more even stupider ideas pop up somewhere else. Think about it. Access to contraception should be controlled and regulated by the states. A fertilized egg is a person with full constitutional rights. A woman considering an abortion for any reason should be required to jump through an exponentially growing number of arbitrary hoops. Women should not serve in combat. Organizations like Planned Parenthood that serve as the primary source of a variety of health care services for low-income women should have their funding ended.
Then you have the comments made by leaders in the Republican Party. Ugly and vicious attacks like Rush Limbaugh’s hate-filled rant about Sandra Fluke. Attacks on the Girl Scouts for “promoting lesbianism, feminism, and Planned Parenthood.” Rick Santorum’s suggestion that allowing access to contraception was “a license to do things in the sexual realm that is (sic) counter to how things are supposed to be.” (Apparently since pregnancy affects men much less than women, it’s OK for men to do a little “realm” exploration from time to time.) Foster Friess, a strong financial backer of Rick Santorum, made a sophomoric joke about women using an “aspirin held between the knees” to back up his notion that every woman should be able to afford contraception without health insurance coverage.
Why this sudden and vicious flood of ridiculous anti-woman sentiment? Why has the vagina/uterus area become the new front in the political wars? I’ve heard a lot of possible explanations that might explain some of it. Things like “insecurity in their manhood,” “hatred of women,” “fear of women,” “Oedipal issues” etc. but I think the answer is much simpler than that and I think it’s as old as civilization itself.
I blame religion – specifically Christian religious fundamentalists. Now I’m not talking about your average, run-of-the-mill Methodists and Baptists. I’m talking about a relatively small group of far-right zealots who have recently become a significant voice in the Republican Party. These people are crazy in a cult-like sort of way and they are the scariest threat to our democracy and our government that I’ve seen in my 62 years on this planet.
My theory is simple. Religious fundamentalists are patriarchal. They always view women as chattel and they always insist that God wants women to be submissive and subservient to their men. Religious fundamentalists are also scared to death of sex. They think sex is the greatest sin ever invented and engaging in any type of sexual activity is the surest way to end up in Hell. Now, since these MEN are in charge, and since these MEN are afraid of sex and all sexually related ideas, what will these MEN fear the most? Yes, a female reproductive system.
Rick Santorum has positioned himself as spokesman for most of these Neanderthal religious fanatics, but his river of supporters (and applauders) is deep and wide. The Republicans are afraid of this group of people and the recent series of Republican presidential debates proves that point. Have you heard a single Republican front-runner denounce the recent remarks of Rush Limbaugh who called a college student a “slut” and a “prostitute,” who “was having so much sex, she couldn’t afford it and she wants us (the taxpayer) to pay for it”. NO, you have not heard Santorum, Romney, Gingrich or Paul come out and say Rush was wrong or that Rush should be condemned for his hate-filled rhetoric. And you won’t, because they all know this powerful religious fundamentalist base will turn on them….with true religious fervor. By the way, you also haven’t heard any of them mention that no one is talking about paying for contraception with tax money. People pay for their health insurance.
Contrary to the belief of some people, this country was not founded on Christian principles, nor was it founded on ANY religious theme other than the general acknowledgement of a “creator.” There was not “In God we Trust. There was no “one nation, under God.” There was only a secular government that was carefully designed to be apart from any religious ideals.
These religious fundamentalists however, don’t agree with that approach. They want their God to be in control. They want their interpretations of scripture to overrule any other person’s interpretations or any other person’s scripture. And of course, they also want to subjugate women. They would also LOVE to make anything related to sex a “government sin” codified by some sort of law. They want to control women’s reproductive systems and they want to force their specific form of worship onto every child in the public schools. And of course, they want to do all of this, in Jesus’ name.
It’s odd to me that these same people also want to cut off welfare and food stamp programs that benefit the poor. It’s odd these people want to attack foreign countries militarily to rain down death and destruction. It’s odd these people want to kill off public schools, the Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, programs that Jesus himself would have endorsed. I also find it strange that these same people want to limit the rights of homosexuals, even though those same homosexuals were created by God. It seems rather unchristian to me that a large number of these people would deny civil rights to blacks, Hispanics and other minorities. And what’s REALLY ODD, is that these same people seem so hell-bent on finding ways to increase the profit margin of big corporations and the off-shore bank balances of the obscenely rich.
I’m certain I’ve offended some people. I don’t care. I’m tired of being pushed around by these fanatics. I’m fed up with watching these people get elected into powerful government positions and pushing their fringe policies on the rest of us. And I’m really sick of women getting blatantly pushed down and being reminded of their proper “place” in the social structure.
This Thursday, I will be joining a group of my fellow Alabamians in a protest at the State Capitol. We will be marching to protest the plethora of recent laws designed to take away women’s rights to control their own reproductive systems. We will be marching to show our displeasure with government inserting itself into our private lives and our private parts. We will be marching for women and for our human dignity. We will be Christians. We will be Muslims. We will be atheists. We will be agnostics. We will be freethinkers. We will be Americans…all of us.
About the author: Mike Walker, retired educator in the Montgomery Public Schools System, is living his golden years inspired by the words of Albert Einstein, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.” He likes to stir up the status quo. Visit his blog: Southern Liberal Man.