The attempts to roll back the gains of the women’s movement have been going on for a long time now, almost immediately after Roe v. Wade was passed, but it has become increasingly escalated lately with attacks now being leveled against not only reproductive rights (including contraception) but women’s health care, and even programs for victims of violence and rape being dismantled. It is time for us to stand up. Today is International Women’s Day, this is Women’s History month, and we are speaking up, taking to the airways, and taking action to help raise the awareness that this onslaught is about patriarchal dominance, not “religious freedom”.
Women are steadily making gains in other parts of the world, one of the most heartening examples being the women of the Congo, who have risen up in the face of wartime torture against the violence that has been directed at them, demanding an end to rape. We see women making strides towards freedom in the Middle East with Tunisia granting equal rights to men and women, and in India, despite much discrimination, women currently holding all three of the high offices of President, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and Leader of the Opposition, while here in the U. S. women are seeing our rights and gains erode and to this day are the most under-represented group in government and the poorest members of society.
Today, in America, we are contending with attacks on women’s human rights such as the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed any employer to refuse to cover any kind of health care service by citing “moral reasons”; fetal “personhood” bills; bills requiring ultrasound, including invasive vaginal probes, prior to allowing abortions; bills outlawing abortions after 20 weeks; bills allowing health care providers to refuse to perform abortions and hospitals to refuse to perform emergency abortions, even in the case of the mother’s life being at stake in the “Let Women Die Bill” that passed in the U. S. House of Representatives; the defunding of Planned Parenthood, including the Susan V. Komen Foundation dropping planned parenthood funding for cancer screenings; the continuing harassment, arson attacks, bombings and shootings of family planning staff and doctors, four of whom have been murdered between 1993 and 2009.
In view of such attacks, one might think we lived in a country ruled by an Ayatollah rather than in the United States where there is supposed to be a government of, for, and by the people with the separation of church and state. But, as it turns out, the Christian fundamentalists who have made inroads into our government have been steadily blurring this line and are little different from their Muslim counterparts in their determination to restrict the freedoms of their respective female citizens. Patriarchal religion has historically often been friendly to fascism and feudalism and hostile to the values of freedom and enlightenment, particularly of course with regard to women.
Patriarchy is about domination and the abuse of power and we wish to raise the awareness of the public that the war on women is about the attempt to control women’s lives, whether it be by redefining rape, slashing funding for planned parenthood, eliminating crucial health screening and services for women, attempting to restrict and even criminalize abortion, denying access to contraception, or doing away with programs to help victims of domestic violence and rape. We will not sit by and allow women’s human rights to be treated as if they are expendable or ignore the sexist mentality that fuels these attacks. It is time for us to Occupy Patriarchy and end the War on Women.