This is cross-posted at DailyKos.
This morning, while taking my dog for a leisurely half-hour walk, I listened to Weekend Edition on NPR. In that half hour, the only female voice I heard was the show’s host, Linda Wertheimer. Apparently there are no female writers, movie reviewers, or chefs who can talk about books to read over the holidays, new favorite movies to watch, or foods to eat on New Year’s Day to combat the impact of having imbibed too much the previous night. Which brings me to what I perceive as one of the worst things about the War on Women: the insidious nature of women being invisible. If we are not heard, we cannot be listened to, and things will not be changed.
I teach in a high school, and in the almost ten years I have been teaching, there have always been two male assistant principals and two female assistant principals, so why, have the three principals only been male? We can lean in so far that the Leaning Tower of Pisa looks straight, but it is not just on us to break those barriers. The ole boys’ club is not just about country club membership, it’s about being more comfortable with those like you and assumptions that die hard. (Why are tough women still considered Bs?)
The existence of the War on Women impacts all of us, and its end depends on all of us. One of the things that stands out to me in Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is that he states that the oppressed are oppressed as well, and that “they [white people] have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” This is about having a society that gives every one of us a chance, and not a society where we have to prove ourselves to the white men who hold all the keys.
Invisible in the Boardroom
“The direct, in-your-face gender discrimination of the past has faded, but bias hasn't vanished. It's just gone underground and is growing. Under a veneer of "progress," what we call the new soft war on women is gaining momentum, based on stubborn stereotypes about what women can't do.”
“It's just that the stereotypes we all have in our heads about what men and women can or can't do are incredibly deep-rooted.”
Invisible in Stories about Poverty
As Ruth Rosen notes in her article, “The Republican War on Women”: “So why have women disappeared from a fierce national debate over who deserves food assistance? I’m not actually sure. Perhaps it is because so many adult women, like men, now work in the labour force and are viewed as individuals who should take care of themselves. Perhaps it is because Republicans find women’s appetite, as opposed to that of children, an embarrassment, hinting of sexual desire. Perhaps it is because this is part of the Republican war on women’s reproductive freedom: a single mother with children is somehow guilty of bringing on her own poverty.”
“Republicans may view single mothers as sinful parasites who don’t deserve food assistance. But behind every hungry child, teenager and elderly person is a hungry mother who is exhausted from trying to keep her family together. Women who receive food assistance are neither invisible nor undeserving. They are working-class heroes who work hard -often at several minimal wage jobs - to keep their families nourished and together.”
Invisible in the Movies—and doing something about it
“The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is the only research-based organization working behind-the scenes in the entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female portrayals for children’s entertainment.”
Invisible in Government—and doing something about it
Emily’s List “envisions a world where women are equally represented at all levels of government, and achieve the highest leadership positions with our legislative and executive bodies; the influence of women office holders leads to the adoption of a host of progressive public policies to ensure that women have equal opportunities at home, in the workplace, and in the public sphere; our community of millions of engaged women and men ensure that the voice of women is heard and their power is celebrated.”
Shout Out to Wendy Davis running for Governor in Texas
PREGNANT LADY OBSESSION:
Wishing We Were Invisible, or Why do they only care about us when we’re pregnant?
This boggles the mind.
“Last week, the Michigan legislature passed the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” which bans private insurance companies from covering abortion services in the state and will force women to purchase additional insurance if they want abortion care to be covered by their health insurance. The bill contains no exception for cases of rape or incest, and you cannot purchase the rider once you are pregnant. It must be purchased prior to a possible pregnancy.”
“These attacks on abortion rights, whether they are TRAP laws that disguise themselves as protecting women’s safety or misleading fetal pain laws that use junk science to chip away at Roe v. Wade, are at their core about punishing women simply for being women. Laws like this reveal the deep contempt for women and reproductive freedom that underwrites the anti-abortion movement. It isn’t about protecting life; it’s about punishing women.”
“The lawsuit is similar to one filed in Oklahoma City last year by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which calls itself a "biblically founded business." That lawsuit also challenges the mandate that employers provide coverage for the morning-after pill and similar drugs. In July, a federal judge granted a temporary exemption to the Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain, a ruling the government has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Fetus vs. Womb
In Texas a fetus has more rights than a woman, oh, I mean, wombn.
“With pregnant wife unresponsive on life support, husband hopes to fulfill her wishes. Keeping a brain dead woman alive against the wishes of her husband and family because, in Texas, the rights of a fetus override all other rights.”
“Marlise was taken to the emergency room at JPS in the early morning of Nov. 26. Later in the day, the family was informed by doctors that they would provide any life-saving measures because she was pregnant. The family was told the hospital was taking that measure because of state law in Texas' Health and Safety Code. "Section 166.049 Pregnant Patients. A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient," the code reads.”
“A major problem is the lack of consistent work in the field, a point stressed to me in 2005 – during an earlier outbreak of brain-gender difference stories – by Professor Steve Jones, a geneticist at University College London, and author of Y: The Descent of Men. "Researching my book, I discovered there was no consensus at all about the science [of gender and brain structure]," he told me. "There were studies that said completely contradictory things about male and female brains. That means you can pick whatever study you like and build a thesis around it. The whole field is like that. It is very subjective. That doesn't mean there are no differences between the brains of the sexes, but we should take care not to exaggerate them."
“This study contains some important data but it has been badly overhyped and the authors must take some of the blame," says Professor Dorothy Bishop, of Oxford University. "They talk as if there is a typical male and a typical female brain – they even provide a diagram – but they ignore the fact that there is a great deal of variation within the sexes in terms of brain structure. You simply cannot say there is a male brain and a female brain.”
“In fact, Verma's results showed that the neuronal connectivity differences between the sexes increased with the age of her subjects. Such a finding is entirely consistent with the idea that cultural factors are driving changes in the brain's wiring. The longer we live, the more our intellectual biases are exaggerated and intensified by our culture, with cumulative effects on our neurons. In other words, the intellectual differences we observe between the sexes are not the result of different genetic birthrights but are a consequence of what we expect a boy or a girl to be.”
Can we please stop pitting women against each other as if the world was black and white and that we’re not all walking Venn diagrams with lots and lots of overlapping.
It’s Hard to Stand Up When No One Is there to Help
While experts agree that, for those working in the field, this information is not surprising, the study’s value cannot be overlooked, for it demonstrates through high-quality research how vastly underreported this crime is. The numbers are compelling, and they lay bare not only how many victims continue to suffer in silence and obscurity, but also the inadequacy of many of the systems meant to protect women from such violence.
“You don’t go to the police until it is a life or death matter, really” she said. “When you think you are literally trying to save your life and the lives of your children.” That is often because formal sources like the police or medical providers can be unsupportive and insensitive to women who come to them for help, experts say. This may explain the extremely low reporting rates in India, lowest of all the countries compared, where less than one percent of women came forward to report violence to any formal source.
“We’ve done a good job now at bringing out the prevalence and incidence and a lot of the health and social and economic impacts that violence has had on women and communities and men,” she said. “But we are really kind of at the beginning of the research on understanding which interventions are most promising.”
In short, their top five stories: abortion x 3, rape insurance (surely that’s an oxymoron gone bad), and the one good news story that Obamacare covers birth control without a copay. (I had my annual gynecological exam a few weeks ago and there was no copay. WooHoo!)
May we all have a good new year, and may we all find a way to combat this relentless War on Women so that soon my 18-year-old daughter will be right when she tells me that I’m living in history when I tell her about the inequalities and travesties that women have to deal with just because they are women.