For those of us in Canada, we have people who have similar views in power now, so the war is coming north, be prepared to fight.
Republican Or Taliban: No Essential Difference
On one level—attitudes toward women—there is no essential difference between the GOP and the Taliban. Both the Taliban and the GOP are opposed to women’s rights, especially in sensitive areas such as abortion and women’s use of reliable contraceptives. If Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin or Sean Hannity lived in Afghanistan, they’d be cheering for the Taliban, not for the western-style government that’s been grafted onto the country. Republicans and Taliban alike have bombed women’s health clinics and deliberately frightened women who were attempting to use those clinics. The Taliban join with the Vatican and other male-dominated entities to keep women subservient in lesser roles. No woman can ever expect to rise to the top in the Taliban or The Vatican, nor is she likely to have the top job in a Republican White House.
Why Republicans Are Dedicated To Scaring And Shaming Women
Women represent an unstoppable political force. That’s the main reason Republicans are so terrified of them. The Republican Party (In Canada read the Conservative Party) is the last bastion of the Old Boys, a club with an exclusive membership of presidents, clergy, bankers and gangsters. The Old Boys wield enormous power, and they’ve been doing it so long it terrifies them to think of not being in control. The Old Boys are everywhere—they’re the people you have to get your tax refunds, your religion and your fun times in Vegas from. Varied as they are, these guys have one thing in common: they will do anything they can to hang onto their money and their power.
The women’s movement of the Sixties scared the heck out of the Old Boys. Recognizing that women are unstoppable if united, the Old Boys brought in the brightest lights of the Right to devise a ploy to divide women once and for all. That’s when the Right decided to politicize abortion. The reasoning went like this: “Half the population has a uterus, so if we can get the owners of those uteruses scared and fighting with each other, we can keep them divided for all time and hang on to our power longer! Hmm, how do we do that? Ah! We start acting like it’s our God-ordained right to own those uteruses! We get a bunch of women to start believing that God and The Government own their uteruses. We convince women that their uteruses are just on temporary loan from God and The Government. We pour shame on women who act like they own their own uteruses! If we can scare women badly enough, they’ll act as the ground troops in our campaign of getting women to hate each other.”
As a strategy it’s worked brilliantly over the past thirty years. Republicans have done such a good job of dividing women that none of the current Republican presidential contenders have emitted so much as the tiniest mouse-squeak about women’s rights. Not just women’s right to choose—women’s rights of ANY kind. Republicans have been emboldened enough now to roll out one of their long-term goals: banning contraception. Rick Santorum is the lead dog of this new enterprise; Fox News viewers can expect to see a great deal of Santorum, in all senses of the word, over the next few years, as he racks up a fortune railing against birth control. Women have feared the anti-abortion crowd, not only for their demented vitriol—the same true-believer energy that burned witches not long ago—but because women knew that the fundamentalists would eventually come after contraceptives. It’s happening.
The Abortion Issue Is Not Really About Abortion
The whole problem becomes much easier to understand if you grasp one essential point: The abortion debate has very little to do with abortion. It’s about who owns women’s bodies. Republicans don’t love fetuses any more than Democrats do, and they certainly seem to have little regard for children once they’re born. Remember, though, it’s not really about abortion, it’s about deliberately frightening women by threatening to possess their uteruses. Republicans know that getting their attention ‘way up in women’s reproductive issues touches a deep place of fear in women. Republicans (In Canada read the Conservatives) know that the more scared women are, the easier they can be manipulated to vote against their own interests.
Organizations such as the GOP and the Taliban have poured enormous energy, time and money into shaming women and trying to destroy institutions that serve them. When the Taliban blows up a women’s clinic in the outback of Afghanistan, or when Republicans conspire to demonize Planned Parenthood, they are fighting a holy war on a subject that is crucial to them: owning women’s bodies. This is a very big deal for the Old Boys. They’re scared that if they lose this one, they might be the ones serving coffee in the boardroom for the next few thousand years.
Here is a suggestion to all those on the right, whether you’re a bombastic radio host, a Republican in the U.S. or a Taliban in Kandahar: Take a year off from shaming women. For one year, change the focus of your shaming. Focus shame on men who try to meddle in women’s business such as abortion. For one year, focus your shame on organizations that won’t give women a chance to apply for the top job. You might even try something really bold: aim your shame at men who procreate carelessly. After thirty-plus years of hearing women shamed relentlessly by male-dominated institutions such as the US House Of Representatives, the GOP, the Taliban and the like, it would be refreshing to go for a spell without hearing endless repetitions of that tired old Garden Of Eden story that it’s all women’s fault.