Monday, July 28, 2014

Radicalization of Equality: We Have Met the Enemy and She is Us

I’ve never been one to ignore the gorilla in the room.  Or at least that is what I believed about myself with a great and passionate conviction for a very long time.  Zeal, even.  Life…growing older, marriage, children, divorce, work, etcetera and so on, have this way of eating away at your passions, your conviction and zeal, your very sense of reality and your ability to recognize gorillas, let alone demand them to come clean or get the hell out.  I think it is fair to say during the past decade I might have attempted to groom and dress a few gorillas and pass them off as temporary and ordinary unpleasantries, blips in the primate road toward ever evolving growth.  I believed them to be the type of blips we need to grin and bear to get through.  I did not ignore them, as much as I avoided them or found paths around.  Eventually, however, gorillas can become aggressive, they need to be fed and attended to.  They can no longer be ignored or avoided and suddenly you are face to face with a gorilla in the middle of your living room and you are forced to look around and notice what a mess a gorilla can make.  So you leave, or get eaten alive. Or you become Jane Goodall and convince others why it is perfectly normal to shack up with a gorilla.

I have been noticing that I am ignoring gorillas again.  I can’t say exactly why, but I have some thoughts.  I’m older.  I have less fight or conviction, OK maybe not.  Sadly, I have had a hard time staying committed to, or focused on a great many gorilla-sized issues.  I feel smaller somehow, less able to fight them off and too comfortable, or perhaps complacent to leave, again. It has taken me a very long time to recover from my last gorilla abstraction. Occasionally I get riled enough to growl down a gorilla or two, but I have been finding it simpler? easier? (sigh) less draining to slip into my off-road vehicle and drive quietly around the gorillas again. 

My off-road vehicle might have run out of fuel, or the gorillas have multiplied. I have been hearing too many gorillas.  Maybe you have too. Five of them recently ruled women can’t choose how to personally and privately protect their rights, their bodies, their livelihood, and ultimately their futures without the religious viewpoints of a few limiting their choices.  The very same religious viewpoints that allow for enhanced, prolonged penis erectile medications and/or vasectomies.  I can only imagine the idolatry worshipped at that altar.   WWJD? I can’t imagine what Jesus would do under these circumstances.  His mother was unmarried and pregnant, but she had a few entitlements most of us don’t have ready access to. Religious ideals too often have this detrimental way of being spit out by a few narrow minded, but loud gorillas, and in spite of the fact that the typical U.S. congregation is represented by 61% female attendants and 39% male attendants (with or without erectably functioning penises, peni, well you know what I mean) those viewpoints are typically male centric.  It makes it difficult for some women, to find sanctity and refuge in the very places that might provide comfort, solitude and community.  And now it makes it difficult for women to make private medical decisions about their bodies through their insurance providers. 

A few FOX employed gorillas believe women are doing swell, what with all those laws that are already in place.  You know like those laws against discrimination, and harassment and domestic violence.  The ones that are so easy to bring forward and that much easier to prove.  One such gorilla, Laura Trueman, (can’t make this up…True man?) Anywho, Ms. Trueman believes the proponents of the Paycheck Fairness Act are "stuck in the 70’s, or are looking for political advantages in attempting to present themselves as champions fighting against the War Against Women". 

I consider myself a bit of a soldier in this war, so just when will my damn uniform get here?  My golden cummerbund, stars and stripes bustier and blazing hot bikini briefs were do in 1975, and if I had my Shazam ring or Elvira bangles or whatever those big strong women were clanking together back when it was time to fight the real fight, well maybe I would be permitted to worship in the temple that understands my uterus never had any custom fitted safety mechanisms to naturally abort any old rape baby.   (Psssst Ms. Trueman?  The  Violence Against Women Act was written and signed into place in 1994, in response to the OJ Simpson case.  15 years after those wild and crazy 70’s ended.  Good thing for some of us women that OJ Simpson was just that side of crazy to not quietly kill his estranged wife and leave it at that.  He had to go and make it all public, and well it became that much harder to ignore just how many women ‘stuck in the 70’s’ or not, were being beat to death, choked, or shot each year.  If only we could have stayed in the 50s, put on our pearls, and served up a sweet little cocktail or two, wouldn’t life be better for everyone?)

A few gorillas have been making decisions about the rights and safety of women on college campuses.  Numerous rape cases over the past few years have come out in public view.  Some of these cases were tried and proven in campus courts, (kangaroo courts?) which resulted in unbelievably light convictions to the rapists.  In one case, the rapist was not allowed back on campus after graduation.  In another case the rapist was expelled and when he sued, the college decided that was too harsh.  This case went to the Supreme Court and it was upheld, in spite of the fact the rapist admitted to the rape.  Student rapists are often protected in the name of sporting events and sporting attendance, and well why can’t some of us women just be good sports anyway? We make it harder for everyone when we get raped and then complain about it, or point to those gorillas in our living rooms, campuses, workplaces, and courtrooms.

Sadly, and for reasons I can’t fathom, many of the gorillas that are hurting women are women.  Ape has killed Ape, was a dramatic turning point in Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) this was the scene that revealed one of the once peaceful, nonviolent apes had turned against the system, the moral code was violated and it changed the course of all Apes.  Maybe a few women felt threatened by all those disgruntled feminist women.  When the term radical was attached to the word feminist there went the whole fight.  Women can’t be radicals.  It is against the moral code.  It would mean we were no longer, peaceful, agreeable, compliant, caregivers, wives of the house, the home, the small and tender children.   

And so, we have met the enemy and she is us.  The fear surrounding being considered a radical feminist practically stopped the Women’s Movement in it’s tracks.  It was the actions of a single woman and her grassroots movement that derailed the Equal Rights Amendment, and set us back some.  Single as in one, not single as in unmarried.  Phyllis Schlafly was married. So very married and traditional. So very traditional that her husband and his salary nicely supported her ability to stay home to raise her six children.  And that alone isn’t so unusual given the time, or any of my business.  But she went on to become a celebrated lawyer, advocate, and politician.   Well damn, that sounds like a pretty traditional girly role to me! I wonder why all those other women that don’t have supportive sugar-daddy bank-rolling good strong husbands, can’t just pipe on down and take care of their kids happily and for the sake of someone’s gonads, quietly!?

According to her very own website, Phyllis Schlafly is America’s best-known advocate of the dignity and honor that we as a society owe to the role of fulltime homemaker.  Now isn’t that just the cats pajamas? Boy howdy, how in fact could more of us little women get to have our cake and eat it all too, and then tell other women they can’t have the same cake we have?  I’m just wondering, because somehow I didn’t get in the same line when they were giving out aprons or husbands, or law degrees.   I’m all for ensuring children get taken care of by both parents.  I didn’t get on that line either.  But not for a minute do I imagine, that a child is not being well-cared for because his/her mother is working outside of the home, or that it causes the break down of the family.

Take a minute to study these two words:  Radical: very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary.   Feminist: of the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

Many younger women have been taught the gorilla is the feminist, radical or not.  Or perhaps they were raised by mothers that struggled to balance work and family.  Many younger women were lead to believe the gorillas no longer exist because now, we have laws that protect us from being raped and beat and harassed.  In much the same way we have laws against drinking and driving, and laws against going into a school and opening fire with unregistered guns.  The laws alone don’t change attitudes and behaviors or keep us safe. Girls today are raised to believe they can do anything they want, and they don’t have the social context to know that was not always the case.  There has been a rash of pretty young celebrities that have been speaking out against feminism.  These pyt’s don’t seem to realize they have the opportunities they have because feminists believed they were entitled to those opportunities.  They don’t seem to understand being a feminist does not offer one outcome, it offers choice.  Unfortunately without laws supporting the rights of women, these choices would not be available to women.  We came a long way, baby, but we’re not there yet. 

The Equal Rights Amendment has three sections.  Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.   Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.  It is important to point out Ms. Shlafly fought vehemently against it because she feared that her daughters would become eligible for the draft.  Perhaps her fight was misdirected, in fighting against  the evil of war, she creating the framework for the way many view the current War Against Women, from both sides.  How can we as a nation, 51% of us women, believe the opposite, that it is OK to deny the equality of rights on account of gender?

I recently heard another complaint about how the feminists of the 70s are responsible for the plight of….well just about everything wrong with society today.  Phylis Schlafly and her niece, Suzanne Venker co-wrote the book The Flipside of Feminism.  And I do believe it is important to remind you, thoughtful readers, feminism is once again, or still, the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. What you choose to do with those rights is up to you. I feel, radically strong in my belief that I should have those rights and opportunities.  So if we just slip that in, the title would be The Flipside of Believing Women and Men should have Equal Rights and Opportunities….it would be cumbersome as a title but it would redirect those that believe feminism means something else.  Something menacing, or evil or wrong. Read the following quote from Ms. Venker and just twirl that around your pretty little tendrils for awhile: "The problem is that the majority of women in this country don't have the power—feminists do. And feminists influence liberals as well as conservatives to confirm to the feminist message."  Isn’t the point of feminism to empower all women?  To ensure we have power?  I know, power is a powerful word.  It’s nearly manly.   But let’s take a closer look at that word too, shall we?  

Power:  ability to act or produce an effect.

Do non-feminists really imagine that if women didn’t have the ability to act or produce an effect, that would be a good thing?  If so, Ape is killing the spirit and potential of Ape.
According to the book there are five specific ways that Believing Women and Men should have Equal Rights and Opportunities, or Feminism has ruined America: 

1. It hurt marriage. Women want to wait so that they can keep their identities longer and men are finding easy sex, taking away a big reason for marriage.  Well c’mon sisters if that doesn’t motivate you to give up your identity quicker I don’t know what would.  And is that why we get married, to have easy sex?  Man oh man…I’m thinking that’s not working out for a good many couples.  

2. Undermines child rearing. More kids are in childcare where discipline is lax resulting in an "epidemic" of bad kids, childhood obesity, and bullies.  There seems an easy fix here, give discipline back to the schools and childcare centers.  Maybe reinstate Corporal Punishmen? Mandatory outdoor physical activities… oh heck, when I was a young-un we played outside for hours on end, parents had no idea what we were doing and we came home when we were hungry. Close down the childcare centers and throw the kids back to the streets!

3. Two-income trap. With both husband and wife working it's hard to live without life's luxuries. Yes luxuries like food and rent and childcare.  The vast majority of dual income homes are simply making ends meet and their voices are not involved in much of the rhetoric.  

4. Undermines college sports. Title IX has ended many male-only sports at some colleges.  Ummmm  and… women can play sports too? It doesn’t say it has ended male sports, but has ended many male-only sports.  Maybe there are fewer cheerleaders available?  

5. Emasculates men. It's better to be a wuss than speak up or mouth off and face charges of harassment or chauvinism.  Okey dokes so men are not emasculated when they mouth off?  Is that how it works?  I kinda imagine if a man needs to resort to mouthing off to women he’s already deeply entrenched in the emasculation tank.  And speaking up that will result in charges of harassment?  What is he speaking up about the size of her tatas?   

I won’t go through all of this but lets just look at number 1 again…women want to wait…..and men are finding easy sex   which takes away a big reason for marriage.  Whoo boy.  I have to sit down a minute.  I’m parched and a little weak, I sure wish a big old strong man could see me now and help me back on my feet…and maybe even marry me up and offer up some good hard sex.  

Phylis Shlafly is perhaps like Jane Goodall in that she wants to convince us of the benefit of shacking up with gorillas, or supporting the limitations and restrictive beliefs of some of those gorillas.  (Please note, I intend no ill will towards Jane Goodall and her important and loving work with her gorillas.  And Ms Shlafly is entitled to her beliefs.) Ms. Schafly believes strongly in gender roles.  So does E.L. James, the author of 50 Shades Of Grey, for that matter.  No easy sex there, at least not for the women.  There is a sense that 50 Shades of Grey was such a sensation because we are all missing those hot, erotic, and sexy pleasures afforded to us through the traditional gender roles that we have moved so far away from.  Ummm, I don’t know…I can’t really imagine that things worked out so well for Ward and June Cleaver because she was waiting for the duct tape and chains to come out. 

Believing in gender roles, is not quite like believing in Santa, or God.  Or maybe it is exactly that way.  But to me, it is by now more like believing the world is flat and maybe extremely narrow.  Gender roles, unlike gender differences are based on societal values that in many cases no longer fit or make sense.  Sure, perhaps a larger percentage of the male gender may like to barbecue and play with fire to prepare the meat that they weren’t able to hunt down themselves. And a larger percentage of the female gender may be found with a child or three climbing atop them, but how this amounts to not providing measures to ensure equal pay or equal rights is lost on me.  Believing in gender roles, or preferring traditional gender roles in ones family has no place in limiting equal rights and protections from our government.  Especially a government that was formed on the platform of equal rights.  It took a hundred and forty three years for women to be granted some equalities, if we continue to collectively ignore the gorillas in our living rooms, board rooms and Supreme Court, we may reverse those fragile, tenuous, equalities that were hard fought and won.

If we give women the same rights that men already have, to be entitled to their own bodies, their sexuality and their ability to make their own decisions how can we not improve the quality of life for all?  There are gender differences, no doubt, but banning laws to guarantee salaries are not based on these differences will not turn back time.  Not supporting the Equal Rights Amendment or the Paycheck Fairness Act will not “fix” the ills of our nation or lure women back to their kitchens, barefoot and pregnant.  Gender roles in the kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, and dens of subtropic forests and beyond, where gorillas may graze can continue in any way the involved gorillas see fit.

I don’t imagine all men to be gorillas.  I know all women that wish to, and have the support to stay home and raise their children are not gorillas.  I am certain, however, all women must be granted the same human rights provided to men.  Simply because the distinction of gender is not relevant to the protection of rights. Human Rights were not intended to be separated and watered down and doled out or withheld based on gender.  Believing in gender roles as the basis for the argument to fight against equality for women is similar to the argument that was once voiced for (or really, against) African Americans. It was continued to be believed by many that slavery was better for African Americans, it provided a roof over the heads of slaves, a steady job and food.  It took close to a hundred years following the end of slavery before the Civil Rights Act was passed.  We've come a long way baby.  We are not there yet.  

The Women's Rights Amendment was ratified in 1920, perhaps we can pass the Equal Rights Amendment before 2020.  To believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities does not seem a radical idea, not granting equalities is archaic and gravely detrimental.

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