Part 1: The War on Women
There is a war raging in America. It has experienced as many battles and battlefronts as there have been belligerents ever since the founding of this great nation, and the lines have been drawn around property rights for women, the right of women to vote, aspects of gender equality in the face of the law, and of course, the ever so complicated reproductive rights of women. Just like aspects such as race, age and class come into play during political forays, the female gender is also a major portion of politics – dissected, polled, appealed to and unfortunately, exploited for political advantage. And it warrants mention that no where in the world is this overall operation as sophisticated as it, ostensibly, is in the U.S. Because of its ‘hot button issue’ status in America, the brunt of this particular editorial will be on the core issue of women’s reproductive rights.
At its most basic level, women have been central to battles because of their status in society: Women are beautiful as much as they have been considered possessions. They have, in the past and the present, been bargaining chips and collateral damage if you consider the fact that they are ‘the weaker sex.’ Save for the Amazons and in matriarchal societies [and also among animal species like lions, hyenas and the praying mantis], women have been the ones who stay at home while the men go to war. Men sometimes go to war because they have to defend and protect women who are their sisters, mothers, wives, girlfriends, caregivers, virgins, home makers, muses, child bearers and rearers, goddesses. Women are also sirens, mermaids, banshees, seductresses, jezebels, harlots or pleasure givers; witches and oracles. For the record, all these are emotive aspects – able to draw rancor and angst – especially because women have been defined by their menfolk. In spite of the push for gender equality over the past 150 years, it is, still, not surprising to have men control the debate on what a woman can or cannot do with her body.
All these things around women and their reproductive rights stem from the fact that they were, first, dealt with by the Ecclesiastical Courts and under the laws of the Roman Catholic Church. And although the old Ecclesiastical Courts were made defunct after the Reformation, that did not stop society from following ‘the word of God’ and the men who represented Him on earth. However, one would have thought that in 2012, after all the progress made, it seems as though when it comes to reproductive aspects, we are right back to Ecclesiastical times! Yes. If the most developed country in the world – also the freest and richest – can have an ‘archaic’ way to represent women and their rights, then women from other parts of the world are going to have to make a way for themselves.
However, we also need to recognize the fact that the culture wars in America get exported abroad to places like Africa. The battle over women’s reproductive rights have found their way into the constitutions of Zimbabwe and Kenya.
In the latter case, while conservatives failed to get abortion issues on the chopping block, the issues in the former were not quite as black and white. In simple terms, the U.S. has the potential to influence other countries of the world to ‘follow’ them down the path of women’s rights. What is most problematic about this is that most African countries followed their colonial masters in the creation of their respective laws. For example, Uganda or Kenya’s laws on abortion follow the British aspects. Zimbabwe, which was also influenced by the British, has taken on the American influence – and like is wont to happen, America can return a few countries to the days of Ecclesiastes.
But let us put a few things in perspective: American women in some states have rights to do what they will with their bodies. However, in the past few years of the Obama administration, a great many conservatives have taken over state governments and have launched a series of draconian rules ‘against’ women. In the State of Virginia, there was a proposal that if a woman wanted to have an abortion, some kind of protrusion or implement would have to be stuck up her vagina. As to what actual purpose this invasive procedure was supposed to serve or achieve still befuddles common sense.
However, one cannot help but seek to look into men’s fascination with that part of a woman’s anatomy. There is also another part to this debate: Abortifacients. The pill which has been both officially and unofficially tested on women for years and years is still being debated today. Even after the 1969 papal encyclical was basically ignored, women are still not necessarily ‘allowed’ to do what they need to do to plan their child bearing aspects. Even when more than 95 percent of sexually active women in America take the pill, there is still the meme that women do not know what is right.
While this might not necessarily be their intent, men are probably making a big mess of something they should not necessarily be delving into. Which means, in my estimation, that there is more to this than meets the eye.
To Be Continued
Editor – email@example.com