I’ve often said the hate mail I receive is something to be expected, given that my opinions are unvarnished and I’ve never been shy about throwing punches at those who would oppress another American. The hate mail comes not from the oppressors, but from the sheep being blindly led to slaughter. People find my political and religious positions offensive – though I always seem to come down on the side of the poor, the elderly, the downtrodden and those who have no voice. Many people find my language offensive – to which I say, life’s tough. Wear a helmet.
I’ve roamed this planet for more than a half century, and was able to make decisions about my future based on the choices that women, just a few years older than I, did not have the right to make. Because of their sacrifices, their fight for what was fair and even-handed in the name of gender equality, I could have the economic freedom to remain single and childless and have a life filled with rich experiences and memories. And yet, by virtue of my plumbing, the hate mail pours in, because somehow, in 2012, women should not have strong opinions or the freedom to choose sovereignty over their own bodies.
If I and other women have been offended
by the rhetoric coming from old white men, then we are scolded and our feelings have been attributed to the innate over-sensitivity of our gender. “There is no war on women,” we are told. “We are simply fighting back against you, who are oppressing our religious freedoms.” Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and anyone who would persecute another for practicing religion would have to fight me first. But forcing your religion on the unwilling is another form of religious persecution no one is talking about and inevitably, the victims of that persecution are women. The very concept of freedom of religion must include those who choose to leave a particular faith or not accept any religion at all. Every faith discusses free will, and yet, that fundamental discussion takes a back seat in today’s political discourse. Apostasy is a fundamental part of religious freedom and is a fundamental human right. That tenant has been a cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights since the United Nations included it in 1948. For 64 years, civilized nations have accepted that freedom as the other necessary side of the religious freedom coin… until now.
Some months back, a Georgetown University student, Sandra Fluke asked that her hormonal birth control be covered by Georgetown’s health insurance in front of a nonofficial congressional committee. Conservative shock jock and right-wing mouth piece, Rush Limbaugh said the following:
“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
No, it doesn’t say that about her at all. It says that this young woman wants the same health plan that covers Viagra for male erectile dysfunction cover the hormonal birth control that keeps her ovarian cysts in check. She thought her painful and potentially harmful medical condition should at least be considered as important as a man’s desire to make his dick hard for recreational purposes. But Limbaugh didn’t stop there. He continued to insult Fluke and stated,
“If we are going to have to pay for this then we want something in return, Ms. Fluke. And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we’re getting for our money.”
Of course, every Republican rushed to Ms. Fluke’s defense and denounced this shock jock, right? When Mitt Romney was asked to respond to the Limbaugh tirade, he stated, “I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used.”
Not exactly a denunciation of blatant misogyny, eh? He had a golden opportunity to do the right thing, and yet, Willard showed no offense. The pundits on Fox News sure weren’t offended. In fact Fox News infotainment propagandist Sean Hannity declared birth control a luxury while Viagra resolved a ‘serious medical condition’ for men. I can’t count the men I know personally who have joked about how Viagra allowed them to have a lot of sex with multiple women. I’ve never heard a woman rejoice over the notches on her bedpost thanks to contraceptives. And yet, no one is offended.
Missouri Senate Candidate Todd Akin referred
to his female opponent as a dog and made the infamous “legitimate rape” comment and offered a wonderful soliloquy on biology, You know, about how, if a women were truly raped *instead of faking rape, she couldn’t become pregnant because “women’s bodies have ways of shutting that whole thing down”. Um, no. Women who are raped actually experience a higher rate of pregnancy than women who have consensual sex. There was some momentary backlash from the Republican Party over his use of the word “legitimate”, but it didn’t last long, especially when it became public that Todd Akin and Paul Ryan co-sponsored the “Personhood Amendment” that would essentially give full Constitutional rights of Personhood, including property, to embryos. Embryos with property rights? They’re using the 14th Amendment, adopted during Reconstruction that was meant to keep black Americans from being denied full citizenship, including the right to own property, to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. So they’ve used a law that was never meant for this purpose to give property rights to fertilized eggs. If Akin, Ryan and the rest of them have their way, even women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest would face criminal prosecution for terminating a pregnancy under such conditions. In essence, embryos are citizens and the women incubating them are not. And yet, no one on the Right is offended by this. If an 11 year old girl is raped by her uncle, these white men have decided that she will carry this fetus to term and give birth to the resulting rape and incest… because it is “God’s will”. And yet, no one is offended.
Tuesday night, Indiana Republican candidate Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen,” despite the “horrible situation” from which they derived. Mitt Romney not only endorsed this candidate, but stuck by him. Mourdock has characterized my outrage at his comments as “sick and twisted”. Project much, DICK? The Right is outraged that I would ‘twist’ his words, and yet, I offer them just as they were given. Yet no one on the Right is offended. 31 states across this fine land grant visitation rights and thus, access to their victims to the rapists. And yet no one is offended.
Paul Ryan referred to rape as “just another method of conception”. And yet no one is offended.
Rick Santorum, during his Presidential bid stated, “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country…. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” And yet, no one is offended.
Speaking of Rick Santorum,
here’s another one on his hit parade: “You can say I’m a hater. But I would argue I’m a lover. I’m a lover of traditional families and of the right of children to have a mother and father… I would argue that the future of America hangs in the balance, because the future of the family hangs in the balance. Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?” Yeah, so long as it’s his definition of a traditional family. And yet, no one is offended.
The State of Pennsylvania has proposed a bill that would punish every woman accepting public assistance who becomes pregnant by any means. If she’s accepting public assistance and gets pregnant, she receives no more public assistance. Starve the kids she already has. What if she gets pregnant because she was raped? Too bad. Force her to endure a transvaginal ultrasound at her own expense and then make her pay for her own abortion. Otherwise, no public assistance. You’ll notice, it’s only the women and children who get punished under this scenario, never the men who do the impregnating. This story is not part of the mainstream media and yet, no one is offended.
I got a letter from my dear friend Scott the other day. Scott is a gay man in a committed relationship with Mike and he worries about what would happen if either of them faced an end of life situation under a Romney presidency. He wrote: “I am so upset right now I can hardly see straight. In short, Mitt Romney wants to reclassify [hospital] visitation rights for same-sex couples as a ‘benefit,’ which will have no other purpose than to allow hospitals to deny me access to Mike, even if he were dying.” I could feel the fear in his words. It broke my heart, but I could only offer the stern advice to “vote”. Romney met with LGBT couples who wanted to address the issues they faced with families and children when he replied, “I didn’t know you had families.” Of course they have families. They’re people. (This from the man who believes “Corporations are people, my friend.”) They were treated as less than human, yet no one was offended.
I’m here to tell you, I’m goddamned well offended. I’m offended that the face of all these comments belong to rich and powerful white men. I’m offended that women are being treated as lying whores who will say and do anything to go out and have as much sex as possible and throw away pregnancies like a used tissue. I’m offended that these same men don’t feel that women who work just as hard as men aren’t deserving of equal pay and that once a women becomes pregnant, under any circumstances, her rights end and the rights of that embryo are of greater value than hers – until the moment it is born. Then – not their problem. I’m offended that poor people are blamed for the economic disaster wrought upon this nation by those who would prey upon a rigged system for their own financial gain. These same people bear no responsibility for the havoc they’ve wreaked and do nothing while the poor are targeted for persecution. I’m offended that the LGBT community is somehow being held responsible for the perceived moral decline of our civilization for nothing more than wanting to love one another and become a family under every legal definition of the law. I’m offended that so many of us must live in fear that every right we’ve fought so hard to win can be gone in the blink of an eye because too many Americans are too lazy to understand they’re just as disposable as the people they’ve been taught to despise. I’m probably most offended by those who accuse me of playing the race card every time I call them on their bigoted comments with regard to the President. I’ll make them a deal – I’ll stop playing the race card when they stop making racist comments.
The election is just days away, my friends, and we can call a screeching halt to this insanity once and for all. We can re-elect a man to the highest office in the land whose actions have been to defend the weakest among us. We can vote out the extremists who have co-opted our Democracy and placed it on the auction block to the highest bidder. We can send a message to Washington and to every state house across this land that we have had e-fucking-nough. We can give the President a House of Representatives and a Senate, not who agree with him on every issue, but possess the sanity to understand compromise.
The Right has done everything in their power to convince us that voter fraud is a crime and that any attempt on our part to exercise the franchise will land us in prison. Let me tell you, any attempt to suppress the vote is also a crime and should be reported to the FBI. At my polling place, for the last half dozen elections, the judge has ordered me to produce my drivers’ license so I could exercise that right. I’ve got one, but this time, she’s not getting it. This year, I’m taking my electric bill that shows my name and address, but not my photo. Why?
Because under the law, I can. And I do it because I’ve been bullied into believing I needed a photo ID to vote when that was never the case in my state and I’m deeply offended by it.
Be offended, America, and vote. Your life and the lives of those you care about depend upon it.
Carol Baker is a free-lance political writer and sometimes satirist. She is a regular contributor to Here Women Talk.
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