Archive for May, 2005
What does the Religious Right really want? Well, besides power, money and control, what they really want is to see a radical Right judge appointed to the Supreme Court. Why? To overturn Roe v. Wade. It really is that simple. What the Religious Right (henceforth referred to as RR) wants is to tell me, and all women, what to do with our bodies.
This has been an interesting week in American politics. The Republican Party was thwarted in its attempt to eradicate the long-held tradition of the Senate filibuster. How did the GOP, which holds a 10-seat majority in the Senate, end up in such an embarrassing position? The explanation is simple; the moderates decided it was time to be heard.
Fourteen moderate Senators, seven Republicans and seven Democrats, broke rank with their parties in a bold move to preserve the honor and integrity of Congress as an Institution by safeguarding the tradition of the filibuster. These 14 men and women held the crucial votes that would determine the result of the so-called “nuclear option” to do away with the filibuster. However, instead of playing partisan ball, they took the ball away and threw it out of the playground completely.
Protecting the Minority
These senators understand the importance of the filibuster in the democratic process in Congress. However, it should be noted that the Republicans understand its importance as well, that is exactly why they are trying to get rid of it. The filibuster, although nothing more than a legislative sit-in to protest a nominee or a proposed law, is one of the only ways to deter the majority party from proposing extreme candidates or legislation. It acts as one of the many protective measures instituted for the minority voice.
Those who would say the minority voice doesn’t matter are the very same ones who would hand over democracy on a platter to the first dictator to demand their allegiance. Consider that the minority in the United States is about half of all Americans, perhaps even more when the disenfranchised groups are added in to the mix. The minority in America encompasses far too many people to refuse them a proper voice in the Senate by dissolving the filibuster.
This near-equal split has generally been the outcome of elections for several decades with the Republicans gaining extra ground during some elections and the Democrats gaining extra ground on other elections because of the Electoral College system. However, in terms of population, the line is drawn right down the middle. In reality, there is no real minority in America.
Therefore, the Republican attempt to remove the ability of minority Senators to filibuster is not only shortsighted, since they will one day be the minority voice again, but it also robs the minority of their ability to protest an issue on which they may not have enough votes to reject. It puts the country on notice that something important is being decided and shouldn’t be rushed through with an “up or down” vote. This is the only deterrent the minority party has in Congress because the President and other Senators do not like any type of bad publicity.
It’s Pay Back Time
Again, why would an otherwise conservative party risk so much and act so brazenly as to demand such a drastic change in the legislative process? The Grand Old Party, as well as most conservative branches of any government, is traditionally know for its desire to preserve the thoughts and ideas of yesteryear.
It is highly uncharacteristic of a conservative party to demand the complete eradication of a practice that has been a tradition for so long and has proven to be a vital part of the democratic process, even if would make life more convenient for them. They might suggest a small change here or there, but conservative parties never opt for the removal of such traditions. So why would the Republicans want this drastic change of the legislative process? Because it is pay back time.
The Republicans, Bush included, rode the backs of the RR all the way to the White House and Capitol Hill. The RR is the reason they are all in office today, and everyone involved knows it. So what does the RR stand to gain from all of their hard work? If all goes well, their main objective is to see a RR judge appointed to the Supreme Court.
In fact, many of the RR leaders have made their motives quite clear concerning the “nuclear option” in statements made since it was defused. Pat Buchanan was one of the more outspoken in an interview with Don Imus, a radio talk show host, this week. He said, “the great battle for the supreme Court was about to be won today” – except for the efforts of the “McCain Seven.” In short, the RR’s fight for dissolution of the filibuster was in reality a fight for the Supreme Court.
Religious Right RailRoading
It’s scary to think these men are controlling the strings of our politicians – all the way to the top with the Senate and the White House. So many Americans are naïve enough to think their politicians are looking out for the good of the people, when in reality our elected officials are too often obliged to men like Buchanan who have their own selfish agenda.
The RR wants control of the Supreme Court. But to what end? There are many reasons, I am sure. However, the most obvious is the hotly debated Roe v. Wade decision, which the conservatives have been working for decades to reverse. They want to force the rest of America to submit to their religious dogma about life, women and morality. They expect us to believe like they do and act like they do and if we refuse, they will try to find another way to make us do their bidding – like make it a law to comply. They are not below using politicians and judges as tools to further their own agenda.
You may ask me how I can be so sure of what the Religious Right wants. It’s because I use to be a part of the RR. I grew up in a very conservative home and attended extremely conservative churches for most of my life. The religious right has always wanted to push their morals on me. From a child I was told I should wear a dress because I’m a girl, no makeup, no jewelry. Mine was an extreme case, but most of the RR’s views are very extreme.
An Archaic Belief System
These are no ordinary conservatives; they are radicals with a mission. It is more important than ever to push the RR and their ultra conservative agenda as far away from our politicians and our courts as possible. In doing so, Americans retain control of our country, preserve our constitutional rights and maintain the freedom to choose our own religious path, if we want to choose one at all.
So what made me reject the ideology of the RR? I got a conscience. Now I spend my time writing articles like this one to counteract the ongoing assault against the rights of women by the RR. My one true desire is to see my daughters grow up in a world where women are truly free and gender equality is the rule of thumb, not some allusive notion under constant attack by an archaic belief system.
I had a discussion with a close male friend this week who says he is pro-choice – to an extent. He went on for sometime sharing his views on abortion with me. While he was talking I realized something very important – unless he is the father of the fetus, what he says really doesn’t matter because he’s a man.
It really gets me steamed when a man sits in judgment of a woman who has had an abortion. I just don’t see how a man can speak to this issue at all. Why should men need to establish any type of position at all on a subject that is clearly feminine by nature? I know many are already cowering away from this article in fear of hell’s fire. Think about it though, there are several reason why men should not have a say in what women do with their bodies.
Congratulations Sir, You’re Pregnant
For example, men have never had to face the decision of whether they should allow a child to grow inside them. They have never been in the position of reconciling the gift of life with the invasion of life. In fact, a man can just impregnate a woman and walk away, which is exactly what many have done. If a man can have the right to choose whether he wants the responsibility of fatherhood, shouldn’t the woman have the same choice concerning motherhood?
Men have never been in the position of having a foreign object growing in their bodies and being told it would be immoral to want that object removed. Men cannot relate to the feeling personal invasion brought about by an unwanted pregnancy or the fears of being a single mother. The woman’s body is used as a vessel for life, but it should be each woman’s decision as to whether she wants to be a vessel at that point in her life.
Daddy Isn’t Here, Sweetheart
Another reason men shouldn’t have a say on the abortion issue is because since the dawn of time women have carried the majority of the burden of child rearing while the man pursues his own interests in life. Meanwhile, the wife is tied to the home to raise the children that both of them created. Men cannot relate to the stifling feeling that comes from being subjected to living a life as the primary care giver. In fact, there should be no primary care giver at all, it should be a shared responsibility. However, when the father is not around, the woman has no other choice.
The woman knows what having a child will mean to her personal life (and yes, her life does matter too). Sometimes the changes are welcomed, other times the future is very scary. A man can go on with his life, his career and his own interests with little worry about his future other than being forced to set up the baby’s crib before the mother goes into labor – if that much. However, the mother’s sacrifices and responsibilities are endless and she knows how important it is to raise children who are productive members of society. She can’t fail – even if he does shrug his responsibilities.
Men have basically handed over parental responsibilities to the women and walked away. Even the most well-intentioned father engages in but a small amount of the parenting responsibilities. The women, with no other choice but to raise the children since the father is out pursuing his career, or whatever it is that men do when they are not at home with their families, are forced into a situation that may not even be what that woman needs to thrive in life. She has no choice.
Does the man care that his selfishness could have a detrimental impact on the woman? Nope. She’s doing what society expects of her and he is doing whatever he wants. It is especially difficult for women in these days when so many men just abandon their responsibilities as fathers altogether and leave the woman completely alone to raise the child as a single parent. Even when a father is physically around, oft times he is not around emotionally. But again, the woman has no choice.
It Takes Two
The reason it takes both a man and a woman to make a child is because nature knew it would take both a man and a woman to raise that child. When the man shrugs his paternal obligation, the woman is left with a burden that wasn’t meant to be shouldered by one person.
So many conservatives believe women get recklessly pregnant and then use abortion as birth control. This is just a tactic used to justify the imposition of their morals on other people. Anyone who has ever been inside an abortion clinic knows abortion is always a last resort for women. It’s a desperate move to solve a desperate problem – not a routine action.
What’s even more ironic is that many times these conservatives would be the first to rush their daughter to the abortion clinic just to save face if she ended up with an unwanted pregnancy. Then they have the audacity to condemn the women who choose to not have a baby because they couldn’t afford to feed it or didn’t want to raise the child alone. In fact, the guy I mentioned at the start of this article encouraged his girlfriend to have an abortion because he was afraid of what his religious parents would think about an illegitimate child. He thinks what he did was moral, but some abortions are not. Even worse, he is blind to his own hypocrisy.
Men, It’s Time To Be A Daddy
It all too ironic that while women have been home raising the children, men have been in politics making laws concerning women and their bodies. Men have used their power in politics and religion to control and dominate women by telling us what they think we can morally do with our own bodies. Imagine the arrogance! That any man believes he has any place at all tell me what is legal for me to do with my own body! This is why there needs to be more women legislators and religious leaders.
I don’t see men rushing to change societal expectations for maternal responsibility concerning child rearing. I don’t see them demanding the right to be more responsible fathers or to play a more integral part in their children’s lives. In fact, if they did then they would be entitled to more say in the abortion issue. But why should they want things to change? They’ve got it made in the shade. If things changed, they’d have to pull their own weight, give up some of their own career pursuits, and go home at a decent hour to the child waiting for dinner and a caring hug.
In short, when men start choosing to be fathers, that’s when they will have the right to pipe in on whether women can choose to be mothers. Until then men, your opinion just doesn’t matter.
There are so many times women, no matter what type of shoes they are wearing, have to go toe to toe with a world ruled and ran by men. My experience today is one small example that compounds on the many others each day to frustrate even the strongest feminist heart.
This afternoon I was waiting for a flight back to DC in the American Airlines Admirals Club and decided to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. However, the (female) bartender informed me that she did not have the ingredients for the amaretto sour I had ordered. No problem, nothing unusual there, I would just order something else. “What can you make that’s fruity,” I asked. “Nothing really,” was her response, “just the hard stuff.” Did she have a Bacardi O or a Smirnoff Ice? Nope, and she pointed me to the long line of beer bottles from which I could make a choice. I told her I’m not a beer drinker and must have looked quite confused since I’ve never had such a difficult time ordering a drink. She had an idea; she could make me a martini. Great! I told her an apple martini would be fantastic. Oh, but she didn’t have the ingredients to make an apple martini, just the regular one. Hmmm.
That’s when I got it – this bar was stocked for men. The hard liquor, the beer selection, and the lack of a feminine selection of drinks made it abundantly clear that American Airlines felt only men should be gracing their privileged club. Of course that makes sense, since only men could possibly be successful enough to afford the pricey club fees, right?
Beaded Sandals and Laptop Computers
So I took a quick glance around to see how many other women were in the club. There were quite a few. There was a mom with her kids. A few businesswomen were pounding away at their computers and headphones connecting them to their cell phones.
After this lengthy ordeal with the bartender, I settled for a coke, sauntered off to rejoin my carry-ons, and opened my computer up to type this piece. Behind my leather armchair sits a businesswoman eating a quick lunch. To my right is another businesswoman with her high tech gadgets strung across a table while she works from the airport between flights. She is dressed a bit more “butch” than the rest of the women here, a step many women had to take just to make it in the business world.
I refuse to conform though. I’m wearing my favorite beaded sandals, my turquoise bracelet is dangling from my wrist just below my manicured hand and my hair is long and flowing – not pulled back in a bun or business do. I look professional, but I don’t look manly.
The Best Man for the Job Can Be a Woman
Whether in business, politics or society at large, women are more than capable of integrating with feminine grace into areas previously restricted to men only. I know it’s a dog eat dog world out there, but women have been putting up with those same kind of dogs for a long time inside the house – so we have no problem dealing with them outside of the house as well.
Women do not want, nor do we need, to be protected from the mean world. It infuriates me to hear patronizing excuses from men for hiring a woman to do a job they cannot do themselves instead of just resigning to the fact that they hired the best man for the job and she is a woman.
No Backing Down
I will continue to frequent American Airlines Admirals Club and other such places just to let the boys club know it’s time to take the “Girls Not Allowed” sign off the door. It’s also time to get some feminine drinks in the bar. This is not a man’s world anymore; it is a human world now. Women are not invading their space – we are simply occupying space that rightfully belonged to us all along.
In a few minutes I’ll board my plane and sit in first class, where I can at least get an amaretto and Sprite. It seems women are expected to travel first class, but not as businesswomen. During my flight, I will start an article I was hired to write for a businessman who has good ideas but doesn’t have a strong writing ability. How ironic that I am not expected to function in the business world, yet the business world needs me (and women like me) in order to function.
I refuse to back down one inch on my assertion that equality for women should flow into every aspect of life. However, I also refuse to relinquish even one of my feminine traits in my quest for equality. Inequality is the first injustice imposed on women and the expectation to masculine conformity is the second injustice.
The small things like my experience today will change one by one as more and more women take their rightful place in the world. Until then, I will politely request that American Airlines start stocking their bars to accommodate the tastes of both men and women. After all, a woman needs a good stiff (fruity) drink sometimes too.