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Melinda J. Rising Headshot

Getting the Spotlight Back on Women

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The Huffington Post certainly attempts to find and present the truth and is bipartisan in its criticism. In reading its articles, however, I wonder why it doesn't have more information on the status of women, especially at a time when women's rights are so egregiously under attack. Republican Conservatives and their minions who seem to have the perceived power to control minds, pocketbooks and Congressional Bills have successfully blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act and appear poised to further erode Roe v Wade with health care strategies of denying funds for abortion even when the woman's life is in danger.

I am also concerned about the lack of civility among politicians, which I think is exacerbated by the blurring of political and religious lines. Mixing the two is not only divisive and dangerous it can be unconstitutional. Misogynistic remnants rear their ugly heads in rap lyrics, in representations of women in the media and in the actions of fraternity "boys" at Yale chanting, "Yes means yes; no means anal," outside Yale's Women's Center. The "boys" apparently apologized with barely a slap on the old wrist!

The birthday of Susan B. Anthony was just celebrated on February 15. Most people recognize her as a champion of women's rights and a suffragist leader. My favorite suffragist and champion, however, is Matilda Joslyn Gage, born on March 24,and author of Woman, Church, and State which exposed and challenged patriarchies and misogynists in the nineteenth century. In the 1880s she was critical of clergy abuse of women and children and expressed strong objections to a proposed Church State, supported by some leaders of the day. Gage was upset about the blurring of church and state authority even then. Her objections, viewed as problematic by the Women's Christian Temperance Union, resulted in her removal from Suffragist leadership fearful of repercussions jeopardizing the Suffrage Movement. Both Anthony and Gage must be rolling over in their graves as they witness the onslaught and gradual erosion of women's rights during the last decade. It is my concern that younger women are unaware of the sacrifices and battles waged by their foremothers and although their entitlement is warranted, there is also responsibility and continuous vigilance required to preserve those rights won.

If John Boehner, his compatriots and strategists have their way, legislators could rip out the heart of programs supporting women and families. Programs such as Title X funding for health care, job training, maternal and child health grants, the National Institute of Health, home heating aid and community health centers, to name a few, are targets. We acknowledge the need to make serious budget cuts, but it seems that further marginalization of women is an easy bullseye for those who don't really value them. It baffles me that such programs are targeted while the coffers of multimillionaires and billionaires remain sacrosanct.

After ten years of research I have learned (confirmed) that women have been treated as less than equal "helpmates", even chattel for thousands of years by patriarchies and misogynists apparently not needing an excuse. Some would say that women are NOT equal to men, and the Bible says so. Not only was Eve created from Adam's rib, she was also responsible for the downfall of humankind. According to that thinking, as daughters of Eve we bear the burden of her curse, destined to endure the pains of childbirth and death. Women were not allowed the benefits of education or property ownership since they were not deemed worthy. They were sought out as witches and burned at the stake for any minor physical anomaly, for healing with herbs, or for nothing at all, maliciously charged for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Formal witch trials no longer exist, but the curse of Eve remains in the vestiges of our cellular memories and seems to justify the behaviors of those demeaning the value of women.

Over time, women in this country have fought to receive equal rights, winning some battles and losing others. It took ninety years to achieve the right to vote. Why? What was the objection? Women didn't need to vote because their husbands did? That was one popular response among males prior to women winning suffrage in 1920. The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress but was never ratified by enough states, shy of just three. In the feminist battle of the twenty-first century, we don't ask to be considered superior; we simply seek parity with our male counterparts earning equal pay, equal status and equal respect.