Virginia - Stop Modern Slavery (VASMS) Message Board › DANGER: War On Women
New York, NY
Facing Down Partiarchy
Two articles in the mainstream press this past week have detailed different aspects of the political football being played with fundamental women's rights.
The first, in Metro NY (2/10-12), asks in its headline: "Right's War On Women?" It details the current escalation of assaults on women's reproductive rights by Republican legislators and the Catholic Church. Even supposedly non-political charities like Komen For the Cure, a breast cancer advocacy and fundraising group, have come under the sway of this swing back to the dark ages of a woman's right to access reproductive health care free from outside intrusion. This frightening retreat has now expanded beyond chiseling away at abortion rights, to include new objections to women even having access to birth control and seeking to restrict access to family planning services. Isn't it common sense that these services reduce the need for terminating unwanted pregnancies? Could the true motive for this contradictory agenda be to continue our patriarchal system's reflexive desire to control women by restricting their choices? A modern-day expression of the old "Keep 'em barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen" mentality?
At the same time, a New York Times Op-Ed piece (2/10), "Republicans Retreat on Domestic Violence", details the politicization of the Violence Against Women Act. Protections for women that previously enjoyed bipartisan support are now mired in a polarized logjam. While domestic violence and sexual assaults continue to weigh upon women, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee calls for striking any improvements to the bill, a huge reduction in financing and the elimination of Justice Department oversight of the law. When every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, one wonders how these politicians can live with themselves. Could reducing protections for women, increasing fear and anxiety, also help to keep women in a defensive posture? As Canadian writer Hilary Beaumont has astutely noted:
Society teaches us 'Don't get raped' rather than 'Don't rape.'
Going right along with these misogynistic trends, we observe the continuing intrusion of pornography into mainstream culture. We are bombarded with unrealistic fantasy images of alluring women being used to sell every conceivable product. No news flash there. But increasingly these ads depict women wearing less and placed in more provocative and subservient poses while the hyper-sexualized models grow ever younger.
How does this affect all of us, including children? 'Sexting' is an increasing trend among students. The commercial sexual exploitation of children continues unabated on our streets and in the 'sex tourism' industry. The mythos of the pimp is glorified in popular culture. Add to this the increasingly violent and degrading content of explicit pornography that is ever more readily accessible through the internet. Are we being manipulated to consider women as objects, subject to being bought and sold, existing foremost for the pleasure of men? Is there a connection between these trends and the explosive growth of human trafficking, prostitution and sexual slavery?
Is it fair to call the sum effect of these events a "War on Women"?
Let's consider a few facts:
Certainly this constitutes a violent and systematic assault.
What has been the response? Largely, deafening silence:
The Violence Against Women Act cannot get out of committee for a floor vote.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act cannot muster the votes to be reauthorized.
The President's decision to include contraceptive coverage as part of the national health care bill is falsely challenged as an attack on religious freedom.
A congressional hearing on the subject EXCLUDES women from the conversation.
Although 98% of U.S. Catholic women report using, or supporting the right to use birth control, the Catholic Church, supported by much of the evangelical community, continues to effectively dictate reproductive health care policy for all women.
Meanwhile, Backpage.com, owned by Village Voice Media, continues to profit from page after page of ads placed by pimps and brothels that facilitate commercial sexual exploitation of children and the prostitution of women. Human trafficking has seen unprecedented growth. Media depictions of women are ever more vulgar and demeaning.
It is past time to stand up and fight back!
A Call to Action:
In celebration of International Women's Day, come march and protest in NYC on March 10th. Join the effort to oppose patriarchy by confronting its presence right here in our own backyards. March on porn palaces, massage parlors, fake 'pregnancy crisis' operations, the military recruitment center, the Catholic church, and protest the crass commercialization of women in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
For those outside of NY, this is a global issue. Organize an event to celebrate International Women's Day and show solidarity with sisters all across the country and around the world. Add your voice to a collective effort to STOP PATRIARCHY NOW!
For more information on the march: Celebrate, March, and Protest 3/10
For a deeper analysis: stoppatriarchy.tumblr.com (caution, strong language)
To help plan and organize, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org