Sunday, August 26, 2012

Women Can Ask For Help And Still Help Themselves

Since the elections are coming up within a few months, Obama’s campaign ads are becoming more visible in popular media. One concerning Mitt Romney and his stances on abortion has created predictable controversy with the right wing alleging it “victimizes women” among other things. A lot of the vitriol comes in the form of antiquated stances on abortion rights and also claims that “Obamacare” is infringing on religious liberty by making religious organizations, but not churches specifically, fund contraception. I briefly mentioned this two months ago in “Where Religion andPolitics Should Not Cross” and “Catholics, Contraception and Conscience”, both of which made the point that contraception is not a license to have sex without any sense of discipline or self control and it shouldn’t be encouraged merely for the pleasure of others. Viewed as preventative healthcare, it is within the Affordable Health Care Act’s structure to cover it under insurance plans. Women are still in a state in inequality, particularly with men and women stuck in a backwards thinking paradigm where females are regarded as subservient, and in order to advance forward, abortion rights must be enforced more effectively. There may not be a literal war on women, but the “fairer sex” is still treated as if they need to be coddled, instead of given the same standing as a man in terms of reproductive health, which includes both contraception and abortion as medical practices. And it is a scary time to be a woman, even if the president doesn’t hold full sway over legislation. The influence the executive branch has cannot be denied and the effect of peoples’ votes in terms of partisan politics cannot be overstated. If Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win the election, women are in danger of having all their advancements be set back almost half a century if the Republicans have their way, and they have a slight numerical advantage in Congress, not to mention the Supreme Court. So the fight against these anti abortion agendas is that much more difficult with the branches of government stacked against women’s rights. Men should recognize this problem and seek to find a solution, which does not mean treating women as delicate flowers or anything, since they go through far more difficulty than men do psychologically and socially, let alone biologically. They deserve a bit more recognition and fairness in politics than they appear to get.

First off, you aren’t victimizing women in the literal sense when you say they are under attack in some sense by political campaigns. If you observe that they are victims of something else, that is different than making them your victim. There might be a claim of painting women as victims, but this is demonstrably different than an explicit claim of Democrats and social liberals “victimizing” women in their abortion rights policymaking. This is not to say that women are asking for special treatment with insurance coverage of contraception, since it could be equally justified for insurance providers to cover male contraception, since they can be argued to be preventative healthcare.  Romney is admittedly out of touch with women, due in part to his upbringing as a conservative Mormon, but also because he’s a man. I’m also guilty of being out of touch with women, not being one myself. But I can at least empathize or sympathize in trying to aid them in gaining what I’d call reproductive equality under the law, which was gained in part through Roe v. Wade, but not entirely. To claim the Obama campaign is creating an artificial status of victimhood is still flawed, since any examples of sex selective abortion procedures, women who suffer psychological repercussions from abortions or even women who have died from abortion procedures are far and above exceptions to the rule, Abortions are far safer when they are regulated and can be prevented by sex education and proper birth control application through the same entity that does abortions which constitute only about 3% of their services.

Planned Parenthood seems to be one of the larger targets in the proverbial “war on females” as I’d say, even though women and females are distinguished by age. The claim from conservatives is that they are encouraging sex, which then leads to pregnancy, which then necessitates their abortion services and thus is creating a circle of exploitation. First off, to reiterate, statistics suggest that a minute amount of PP’s services are abortion related. The rest are various forms of contraception, mammograms, pap smears and other preventative measures to guard against STDs, various female cancers that can spread if not checked and generally maintain reproductive health. But Planned Parenthood isn’t creating a cycle if they are encouraging both a happy and responsible sex life, which would prevent unwanted pregnancies, which would also lower the rate of abortions they’d have to perform. And women are not being portrayed as sexualized objects merely because they admit they have a sex life and want to have safety measures concerning pregnancy, STDs, etc. Quite the contrary, women would be at least partly desexualized when their value is severed from their reproductive functions. Illegalizing abortion or making reproductive health and rights not a primary aspect of policy would reduce women to breeders in that they are not expected to be able to choose not to have children or delay childrearing until they are more financially or emotionally prepared. Ultimately the argument that the GOP and conservatives either don’t understand women or don’t understand the sexist and misogynist positions of social conservatism is only bolstered by recent revelations about their platform and the major figures of the party supporting anti choice and anti woman legislation in practice, even if they say the  principles are the opposite.

Men shouldn’t try to argue that this is special treatment for women, since women are biologically the only members of our species to have children, so giving them a basic legal right to abortion is not any different than men choosing to get a vasectomy, though it is admittedly a bit more extreme than birth control for men that does exist; it kills sperm through a layer of material in the male genitals that allows for urination and the like. Women are not simply their uteruses and are definitely not mere domestics meant to serve men by any means. Women deserve equality in career pay; supposedly they are still only paid 75 cents to the dollar compared to the other sex. Women also deserve basic equal career opportunities: as long as they are qualified, the fact that they have breasts and a vagina should not factor in unless it’s particularly relevant to the job (i.e. a Chippendale’s dancer) Men have more status in this society than they realize. The Bible favors them in terms of marriage, since they can divorce with some grounds and women cannot. Then there’s the obvious problem of men being able to walk alone without much fear of being sexually assaulted, while women are still harassed to this day and have to walk in groups so as not to be molested or, worse, raped. Both men and women should feel remotely safe from sexual assault in this modern age.

It’s fair to say that perhaps government sponsorship of contraception could create the wrong impression at first, but it’s not as if males aren’t getting special treatment from culture, as established prior, so women getting support from the government to advance their reproductive rights evens out the playing field. Now women could conceivably be more self sufficient in other areas when they can maintain a responsible and regulated sex life, severing them from the expectation that they will just be housewives and raise children while men continue to be breadwinners. This sexist and outdated idea only persists because there is a mutual agreement to that setup in a marriage and/or family. Because of this, women become repressed and generally stifled from the potential they have. There isn’t a reason to stratify jobs based on sex or gender unless it’s a prerequisite from the start (see my Chippendales example or consider a Playboy Bunny as a counterexample). The capacities men and women have for jobs are as generally equal as job skills tend to be considered, so that shouldn’t be the issue. Women’s reproductive rights and health have been sacrificed for too long for the convenience, prejudice or ignorance of men. It’s time to make a change. Until next time, Namaste and aloha.

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