So what is this escalated Republican assault on women all about? Are people fearful of possible gender equity? Are they fearful of the societal changes that have taken place? Do they really care about changes in the family structure? Irrational behavior is often based on fear. To my mind, such warfare against women is irrational so what do they fear?
Many people, including me, are outraged at many of the budget cuts proposed and passed by the House of Representatives, cuts that target areas having a major impact on the health and welfare of women, especially poor women, in this country. In particular, Title X funding would essentially be eliminated, denying women not just family planning services, but also breast and cervical cancer screening along with testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted disease. The Bush administration cut some of the funding and focused their dollars on an "abstinence only" policy at a time when 750,000 teens were projected to become pregnant. We and Bristol Palin know how successful that program was! I am not only perplexed about the subject and substance of the Republican budget proposal, but also the "why"!
Having participated in the struggle for women's rights during the sixties and seventies I am struck by the renewed vigor with which women's rights are being attacked, but for what purpose? It seems that the "good ole boys" and the femiphobes are ganging up on women to challenge their family healthcare benefits and even their ability to make decisions about their own bodies. Do femiphobes think that women are incapable of making their own decisions? Are women inferior as some would imply (wink, wink) or do femiphobes just want us to think they are inferior to protect their interests? The striking fact is that far too many women relinquish their own power and pretend to like it. They question their own worthiness because femiphobes are very convincing. Some females question their own worthiness to challenge a man's authority. After all, women have been taught to be helpmates for so many centuries that such habits are hard to break.
Now that conservative voices have become so emboldened by supportive patriarchies who fear that women have been approaching equity in some areas, they are able to challenge strides made by women. Femiphobes like the old ways of the 1950s when the man was the king of the castle with the dutiful wife, dressed in a pinafore, cooking dinner and gazing at hin with adoring eyes. Picture it: Man working at the office, wife staying at home cleaning and caring for children. While that image may be romantic to some, it is no longer relevant at a time when two incomes are often necessary to make ends meet. It's more the stereotypes that I find problematic. Working together as partners of a team to achieve common goals seems to be a more appropriate ideal. But then how do we handle the single parent households? Divorced and unmarried single parent females have really encountered the wrath of the unrelenting "Right".
So some men feel emasculated by the possibility of gender equity? Is the purpose of their assault to put women back into their proper places? Do some feel that women even deserve to be punished, based on religious convictions?
One of the key areas being attacked is abortion. Abortion is an emotionally charged word flaunted by Republican Conservatives -- even when the issue should be more about a woman's choice. I don't believe that anyone is "pro-abortion" per se. Circumstances sometimes put us in the difficult place of making such an unsavory decision. But the lumping together of so many women's issues under the umbrella of anti-life is an example of a calculated spin and oversimplification of a very difficult topic. Women's health issues are far more encompassing than that!
I appreciate Charles M. Blow's comments in "The G.O.P.'s Abandoned Babies" (New York Times, 2-25-11) arguing that Republicans can't consider themselves "pro-life" when life is restricted to existence in the womb. Their concern seems to wane after the infant's delivery. The mother matters only as the vehicle to produce a life but not as the means to nurture or enhance that life. If we are to read into the nuances of the budget cuts, the child only matters until it is born. Maternal and child health are viewed as ancillary, in the minds of some lawmakers and their constituents. Women are the essential part of production, yet are marginalized or objectified as they were in the Middle Ages. Does it boil down to value? It appears that their are some in our society who do not value women. Unfortunately some of those people are women themselves who believe the propaganda fed them by femiphobes.
For all the conservative talk from Republicans protesting the intrusion of government into their lives, how can they possibly demand such a personal intrusion into family life? We've heard this from critics before, but it warrants repeating.
Regardless of the Republican motivations in their budget cutting measures, I challenge each of you to identify the femiphobes and fight back. It's time!