It Will Not Stand: The War on Women’s Choice

I’ve had many discussions with older African Americans about what we call the apathy of the younger generation. They seem to be incredibly distant from the struggles of Civil Rights Era. To hear them tell it, it has little to do with them and I can only hypothesize that this mental “distance” is part ignorance, part self defense and partly the right of those who benefit but do not get bloodied in the fight.

In my opinion, the view that the world is so different today that they don’t need to actively engage and fight for change in the Black community is sadly way too prevalent.

As a a child born the year that Dr. Martin Luther King & Malcolm X were assassinated, great granddaughter of a slave and Native American Indian and the daughter of a woman who lived through Jim Crow, the struggle is an ingrained part of who I am. I see myself, individually and collectively, connected to a legacy of strife and ascension of which I am the beneficiary and guardian. I do not feel the disconnection but the continuum of The Dream.

Regardless of what this generation might believe, this shift towards individualism and away from a collective sense of struggle, which were the glue of the Black community, is only possible because they are beneficiaries of the Civil Rights era.

That is where we differ.

The past few weeks have shown me where we connect. The assaults on women’s rights have left me stunned only because I’ve spent my life in the same protective bubble of inherited blind confidence, assurance and disconnectedness. I am moved by tales of women having back alley abortions, disturbed by old movies where women were so clearly lacking any real autonomy but that’s just so yesterday. How could they have stood such a thing? I just never got it. Women have fought for their rights as equal citizens and made tremendous, unassailable strides, or so I thought.

I was wrong.

Women’s rights are under attack. Our right to our bodies, to self-determination and actualization is what’s on the chopping block. I had no doubt that we remain second class citizens in the eyes of many men and that we live in a world whose limitations are defined by patriarchy but those rights which women marched for, died for, and laws which had already been passed…I never imagined that they would be challenged. Not in the 21st century.

Beneath the skin of our nation, ideological warfare is being waged. Religious zealotry has infected politics under the guise of the GOP, threatening to undo 40 years of progress. The separation of church and state is guaranteed by the first amendment and yet that seems to hold little sway in the political arena TODAY. You only have to listen to Santorum to get the lay of the land. The Right wing agenda is actively and insidiously pushing legislation based on their religious beliefs, challenging and undermining women’s reproductive choice. Transvaginal ultrasound my ass. If you think that’s an exaggeration, read this article from the Daily Kos. You can also read the excellent article, The GOP War on birth control by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.

Historically, women vote in greater numbers than men and I’m betting that the 2012 election will be nothing short of historic.

In a society where women are still struggling for equal representation, still not earning the same pay for the same work as their male colleagues, still make up less than 15% of congress, never mind be president, and comprise less than 10% of media executives, which stops us from telling our own stories and combating embedded stereotypes, lack of reproductive choice is a death sentence.

Every woman I know is outraged at the dismissiveness of elected officials and their intrusion, legally mandated, on our personal choice. Women need to send a resounding message that we will not go back. I will never in my lifetime support a candidate who espouses the rhetoric and policies coming from the GOP candidates seeking presidential nomination.

It will not stand.

The call has gone out for a National March against the War on Women to be held in Washington on 4/28/12. I plan to be there with every person I can wrangle to show that our voice matters, ensure my rights and those of future generations. Just to ensure that they get their chance to glide along in the protective bubble and take for granted, as long as they can, that their rights are guaranteed. 🙂

Go to http://www.facebook.com/UniteWomen for more information.

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11 thoughts on “It Will Not Stand: The War on Women’s Choice”

  1. Coco – you’re such an amazing writer. So many times I click on someones blog and open some long post only to have my mind drift off halfway down the page. You write with strength and clarity and I agree with Bella, definitely freshly pressed worthy.
    It is very difficult and i feel would be innapropriate for want of a better word for me to comment on the actual content because I am a white woman living a totally different experience both politically and otherwise and to attempt a complete understanding would be irrational.. The issue of womans rights, the issue of human rights,the issue of animal rights however are all close to my heart so I feel you passion/ pain wholeheartedly.
    I thank you for bringing the world closer together here on your page and admire your passions,your knowledge and your strengths. xx.

  2. Coco, love, if this doesn’t get you freshly pressed, then I don’t think the WordPress folk know what the hell they’re doing! Lady, that was fantastic! Beautifully delivered, well documented, passionately inspiring, and powerful! I’ve always been awestruck by your writing, but this post has blown me away! I wholeheartedly support your arguments. The assault on women is ongoing and still in this day and age, after all the struggle and fight for women’s rights, we continue to be no better than second class citizens. Society continues to see men as powerful, aggressive, and influential but if I may add, some of our sisters unfortunately add to this belief. Some refuse to speak out, demand their rights be upheld,and embrace the inequality for fear of being seen as ball busters, aggressive, or simply, difficult. The collective mentality has been absent for a long time and instead, we follow the cliched, “Every man for himself.” These are indeed difficult times. I truy hope that acts like this march will send out the message, that no, we will not go back; we will not be silenced.

  3. Well worth sharing, Coco! Sadly enough, it doesn’t even seem to be on the radar for most…at least not in my circle. I think that most people think that access to our feminine freedoms is a done deal – sign, sealed, and delivered, never to be upset again. Wrong! Our very personal and most intimate freedoms are at stake when folks start probing in our uteruses. Pardon the graphic language, but this is an accurate metaphor for a very disturbing trend. More and more, the GOP is reaching for social straws to break the donkey’s back because they have little else to go on. It’s as though they’re banking on women not listening. Furthermore, they are preying on the most disenfranchised of women, those who are catching too much hell to stay tuned in to the rhetoric and legislation that is threatening to become a reality. It is going to take the rest of to speak up, stand up, show up, and shut them down!!

    1. “Furthermore, they are preying on the most disenfranchised of women, those who are catching too much hell to stay tuned in to the rhetoric and legislation that is threatening to become a reality. It is going to take the rest of to speak up, stand up, show up, and shut them down!!”

      I couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂

  4. As always, very well written :). To be honest, I’m shocked by the amount of women who are supportive of candidates like Rick Santorum who very clearly (in my opinion) hate and disrespect women. What kind of society are we living in!?

    1. Thanks, Rachel. A lot of the pundits are asking the same question – why are ANY women in this day and age behind Santorum. He’s surging in Ohio polls like 20 pts ahead of Romney, in spite of his archaic stance. The answer seems to be that there are a great deal more traditionalists and conservatives in the heart of the country. It’s shocking, at least to me. I can’t see why in spite of personal beliefs, one would not uphold the right of self-determination, especially for your own gender. I often think that older generations looking at the world today, think it’s become quite immoral and there answer is to hearken back to “simpler” times. The problem with that is their glorification is revisionist history and the time they remember so fondly is synonymous with the suppression of women SMH.

  5. I remember the women’s rights movement, the seriousness of it as well some of the reaction — the awful jokes about bra burning and women “trying to be men.” I hate how extremists are trying to take us back to fight so many battles we thought had been won. This is what happens when a war takes so long. Some can forget that it hasn’t been won yet, and the place where it really left off.

    I saw some women on a PBS panel discussion a couple days ago, and it broke my heart that the majority of them seemed to have notions of what is right and wrong that I would have expected to hear from republicans back in 1980. It made me so sad I almost wish I hadn’t seen it.

    1. Re,

      They are the Stepford wives, the enemy of feminine progress. I just can’t get behind people who (a) believe that being a person of faith is synonymous with blind acceptance and (b) feel the need to impose their religious values on the nation at large and (c) don’t understand the implications of their stance on women at large. Poverty, death, submission, oppression all watchwords from a bygone era that included the values they so lovingly espouse. And I agree, it is upsetting, on a visceral level, when it is women who stand up in defense of misogyny and sexism 😦

  6. As usual, very well-written with contemplative thought in which we all should take some personal perspective. I have to admit my apathy in regards to women’s rights. Like yourself, I never questioned that what was already in place would ever be challenged. I never thought anyone truly wanted to reverse time. And those same people who wish to do so will tap into other areas as well. It can be heard in political dialogue, which really isn’t all that subtle. I can at least appreciate that but in any case, it is a concern that all of us should make ourselves more informed about.

    1. Right on, Totsymae! You hit the nail right on the head. The current political rhetoric smacks of time travel and it feels surreal SMH. I know much of what is being said is political strategizing to appeal to the GOP base and yet you can tell that many of them BELIEVE what they’re saying. In Santorum’s case, he seems to have decided to go out in grand majestic fashion, in flames. He can’t believe he will win the general election because his policies are so clearly polarizing. It’s just irrational, to say the least. I think he’s decided he doesn’t give a damn and is just gonna rave for his 10 minutes of fame.

      It definitely requires more vigilance on our parts. I am sorry to say that I didn’t vote in the midterm elections and feel that was a very poor decision. I’ve learned my lesson!

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