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American Woman

American Woman

In 1776, there was no illusion that American independence was about anything other than White men. It was about White men arguing with other White men about freedom. The American Revolution really did nothing to address grievances of the poor, people of color, or women—White or Black.

When you think about the history that we studied, it was about Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Rarely did we ever talk about a female. Women were just never mentioned. Every now and then, when you really dove into the details you could read about Abigail Adams. She was a strong voice in the ear of one powerful man, but there needed to be more. Oh, don’t forget, we used to read about Betsy Ross sewing what would become the new United States flag (turns out that maybe a myth). I don’t remember anything else about her; do you?

While minorities have a long list of grievances, or, as Thomas Jefferson put it in the Declaration of Independence, “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” The list is equally as long for the American woman. For most of American history, her job has been to produce offspring, clean the house, and make sure that the home was hospitable for her “hard-working” husband. Oh, and I mustn’t forget, the American Woman was supposed to educate the offspring so they can assume the roles and perpetuate this American life.

Two things changed that helped liberate some American women. First, birth control.

Birth control
Before birth control, every sexual encounter could result in humiliation, loss of social status, and being banished from the community for the egregious offense (I’m trying to generate as much sarcasm as I can here) of having sex and getting pregnant. In our society, getting pregnant out of wedlock was simply forbidden. There was no discussion, no thoughtful debate: it was just absolutely forbidden.

Women had this literally beaten into them. They were told by their parents. They were told by their teachers. They were told by the clergy that sex was “okay” within the confines of marriage but was sinful outside of marriage.

It is interesting to note, and important to remember, that men did not get banished for impregnating a woman. The double standard was and is outrageous.

Birth control pills really changed everything. Once they were introduced in 1960, sex didn’t automatically equal pregnancy. In theory, birth control pills allowed women the freedom to go and do what they wanted and be who they wanted because they were no longer tethered to pregnancy at every turn.

Legal right to abortion
The other thing that helps liberate women, unshackle them from the kitchen, was legalized abortion. The famous Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, made abortion legal throughout the United States. Now, if the revolutionary birth control pill should fail, women had a legal, safe backup method for ending their pregnancy.

There is a huge body of literature for and against abortion. In my opinion, this is not a religious argument (although many religions have taken a stance). When you read the Bible, you’ll find the Ten Commandments. These are the words to live by. And there is nothing in the ten commandments about abortion.

Nor did Jesus say anything on the subject. Throughout the life of Jesus, he stressed loving God and loving your fellow man. He said nothing about do not abort the fetus.

In my opinion, this issue boils down to what you believe the American Woman is. Is an American Woman an equal partner in the phrase “all men are created equal?” If you believe an adult female who is an American citizen should have all the rights conferred by our Constitution, then an American Woman should have the right to decide what to do with her body. It is that simple. Once you decide that the fetus has more rights than the adult female who was carrying the fetus, the American Woman becomes a second-class citizen. Period.

It appears that the Republicans have exactly what they’ve been dreaming about for more than 60 years. They have a super-majority on the Supreme Court. The Republican judges are not just conservative; they are ultraconservative.

And, as we now know, it’s very likely the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. As far as I can tell, there is nothing that we can do to stop this from happening. So the question is, what we do after it happens?

Do we rally around the American Woman? Do we follow the American Woman into a years-long battle to actually get meaningful national legislation passed that makes abortion legal in the United States forever? That is my hope.

The Slow Death of Ukraine
Russia has continued its slow python-like squeeze on Ukraine. This is nothing like a blitzkrieg. Instead, it’s more like death from a thousand paper cuts. There is no massive invasion of an army. Instead, there is a missile strike on a train station. There is another missile strike into a clearly marked Red Cross shelter where children are sheltering. There are dozens of missile strikes into apartment buildings.

To me, this war does not seem to be about conquering Ukraine. Instead, it seems to be about punishing Ukraine. It seems to be about inflicting maximum damage.

This war has gone on for more than two months. The Ukrainian people have proven themselves to be resilient, but they lack resources. We are giving them some resources, and so is the European Union, but I would urge the United States government to up their game.

It is time for us to put all of our chips into the center of the table. I just don’t think that we can sit by and allow the Russians to slowly destroy a country just because they want to. We need to send more weapons. We need to send more guns. We need to send more ammunition. We need to send more antitank weapons. We need to send airplanes. We need to send fighter jets. We need to give Ukraine a fighting chance to save their country.

January 6, 2021
It has been over a year since we all sat and watched our TVs as Americans attacked their own United States Capitol. Once order was restored, I was looking for swift justice. I didn’t see that. Instead, I’ve seen a slow methodical conviction of low-level knuckleheads. I feel like I’m watching one of those classic mafia movies from the 1970s and 1980s. The low-level guys go to jail while the big Mafia bosses continue smoking their Cuban cigars and living in their 20,000 square-foot houses, and never get touched by law enforcement.

A recent recording was released showing Kevin McCarthy, top-ranked Republican Congressman and Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives, condemning the January 6th attack. He went so far in the recording as to say that he was going to ask Donald Trump to resign.

To me, although the recording is genuine, the idea is naïve and McCarthy’s idea was asinine. The one thing we know is that Donald Trump never admits defeat. He never admits that he is wrong. And he would never resign. In fact, there is no circumstance or situation in the known universe in which Donald Trump would admit that he did something wrong and would resign. None.

And, although we never heard this recording before, we did see the sentiment of high-ranking Republicans on the floor of the Senate and the House in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection. There was shock, there was dismay, there was true anger. Yet, over the next several days to weeks anger resided—and then there was renewed, abject fealty to Donald Trump.

Coordination—or collusion
A huge trove of text messages from Mark Meadows, Trump’s Chief of Staff (and Asheville’s former congressman), has been released to the public. They offer several amazing revelations.

First of all, Fox News personalities had open access to the White House. Sean Hannity and others could simply text or call the White House Chief of Staff and expect to get an immediate response.

Second, the White House and Fox News coordinated everything they did. Sean Hannity asked for advice on how to present certain issues to his viewing public—and, in the other direction, gave advice to the White House and how to deal with certain situations including this January 6 attack. This symbiotic relationship is not good for democracy.

Billions for food …
What would you do if you are the richest person in the world, if you had tens of billions of dollars at your disposal? What would you do?

You have enough money to end homelessness in the United States. You actually have enough money to treat everybody who has mental illness in the United States. You could pay for college for thousands of deserving high school graduates. You have enough money to end hunger in the United States. You can set up food stations throughout the United States and feed everybody who is hungry.

…or ego-gratification

Yet, what does Elon Musk do? He spends $44 billion buying Twitter. Why? Because he’s an egomaniac. He believes—no, he “knows” he could run it better.

I have no idea if Elon Musk could do a better job of running Twitter. All I know is that unfettered speech is not good for democracy. We, as humans, are wired to respond to threats. We are wired to respond to immediate threats almost instantaneously. Of course, this makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint: if you don’t respond to immediate threat, you get eaten by a lion.

On the other hand, if a person calls you a knucklehead on Twitter, that’s no big deal—but when several thousand people gang up on you to let you know how worthless you truly are, that can be overwhelming. That can cause suicide. Misinformation can cause homicide.

In the past few years, we have seen small, seemingly innocuous phenomena or statements get blown up on social media, and before you know it, a little, innocuous fact—or falsehood—becomes a national story and everybody is taking sides. Sometimes one of those sides is dangerous, like the shooting up of a neighborhood pizza parlor in Washington, DC, or the attempted kidnapping of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer—or the storming of the US Capitol.

Undermining education and truth
The latest thing has to do with Florida math textbooks. Several textbooks were banned because they were promoting “unAmerican” ideas. You know that this is nonsense. Right? Every major textbook is scrubbed by wordsmiths over and over again in order to avoid anything controversial.

Now, the folks promoting this campaign have never released a complete list of books they’ve banned or even the full text of a single book. As a result, we can’t tell which words or phrases or actual facts in which books offend them. Instead, they release a couple of cartoons out of a 1,000-page book as an example of the egregious nature of the book.

This is nuts. There is no way that I can rationally decide whether a book should be banned or not based on one picture. Was the picture taken out of context? What point or points were they really trying to make? There is no way to know, though this is similar to the hysteria over teaching Critical Race Theory in primary school.

Laws have been passed across the country that Critical Race Theory should not be taught in elementary school. What? Critical Race Theory has never been taught in elementary schools. Never! It is something that has been discussed in some law schools. The whole CRT controversy was whipped up to force some people to have an emotional response. Personally, I also think we should pass laws stating that nuclear physics should not be taught to kindergartners. My friends, be thoughtful. Be rational. Oh, and one other thing to remember. It is an important rule. It is unbreakable: Friends don’t let friends watch Fox News!!

By |2022-08-21T14:43:35-04:00August 21st, 2022|Civil Rights, Education, Healthcare|Comments Off on American Woman

Sandra Fluke at the DNC

Sandra Fluke was pulled into the national spotlight by right wing reactionaries when she was called a slut. Her strong stance has earned her praise and a spot at the DNC.

During this campaign, we’ve heard about the two profoundly different futures that could await women—and how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past. Warnings of that future are not distractions. They’re not imagined. That future could be real.

In that America, your new president could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs. Who won’t stand up to the slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party. It would be an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds we don’t want and our doctors say we don’t need. An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it; in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again; in which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve help, and which don’t. We know what this America would look like. In a few short months, it’s the America we could be. But it’s not the America we should be. It’s not who we are.

We’ve also seen another future we could choose. First of all, we’d have the right to choose. It’s an America in which no one can charge us more than men for the exact same health insurance; in which no one can deny us affordable access to the cancer screenings that could save our lives; in which we decide when to start our families. An America in which our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters—not his delegates or donors—and stands with all women. And strangers come together, reach out and lift her up. And then, instead of trying to silence her, you invite me here—and give me a microphone—to amplify our voice. That’s the difference.

Over the last six months, I’ve seen what these two futures look like. And six months from now, we’ll all be living in one, or the other. But only one. A country where our president either has our back or turns his back; a country that honors our foremothers by moving us forward, or one that forces our generation to re-fight the battles they already won; a country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom, or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies and our voices.

We talk often about choice. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to choose.

By |2012-09-07T05:09:50-04:00September 7th, 2012|Civil Rights, Elections, Party Politics|Comments Off on Sandra Fluke at the DNC

Remember When Contraception Was between You and Your Doctor

Remember when contraception was between you and your doctor? It wasn’t something that needed to be broadcast to the public. Remember when Planned Parenthood was a staple of women’s health and not a political football?

From TPM:

The Obama administration has enlisted the aid of actress Elizabeth Banks in their latest video targeted at women voters. In the video, Banks discusses a time in her life when she didn’t have health insurance but got care at Planned Parenthood.

The video has a personal feel with Banks sharing personal information about her own experiences with birth control. Banks says that after graduating college, she was able to get birth control for her migraine headaches and heavy flow from Planned Parenthood. “Yeah, I’m on record saying I had a heavy flow,” Banks says. “I don’t want to talk about that with my employer,” Banks continues, “That’s between me and my doctor.”

Banks also calls out Mitt Romney’s opposition to Planned Parenthood because they provide abortions. “For that little five percent” of Planned Parenthood’s business “that Mitt Romney decides he doesn’t agree with, he’s going to take away cancer screenings?What is he doing?”

“We’re talking about working class ladies who need health care.” Banks says. “That’s it. That’sPlanned Parenthood.”

By |2013-11-03T18:13:02-04:00August 8th, 2012|Healthcare|Comments Off on Remember When Contraception Was between You and Your Doctor
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