This week brought the horrifying news of the three women enslaved by a man in a Cleveland house, the horror only diminished by the fact that the three were finally free. After ten years. The details — those revealed and those that I can imagine — make me physically sick.
But the reality is more sickening: this could happen to any woman. Ariel Castro’s enslavement of the Cleveland women is a graphic metaphor for the neverending war on women conducted everyday in this country (not to mention atrocities around the world) by men who believe they have the right to control the lives of women, be it human trafficking or eliminating abortion facilities.
Such has been our history as women; unfortunately, it continues to this day, even in this country of so-called enlightenment and evolved beings. In state after state, legislatures dominated by Republican majorities with Republican governors are curtailing as many options for women and their reproductive health as they think they can get away with. Is this only because they can’t chain women up in houses and force them to remain in their places!?
I have been consumed with dismay during the last couple of weeks with the issue of guns, background checks, and every parent’s worst nightmare – of losing your child to a lethal weapon, be it in the hands of a maniac or another child with a “children’s rifle”. Congress and legislatures across this country are clearly in the pockets of the NRA and there is little we can do to prevent that.
But ultimately, aren’t we talking about a question of money? Votes? Things that men and women can realistically do, and may do, in the next election cycle to close the background check loophole and maybe more gun control?
But the war on women is more daunting because it seems to be a remnant of primitive times that is locked in the male DNA. Is there really any way to eradicate the gene that makes men believe they are on this planet to control women . . . to diminish them, keep them in their roles as subordinates, barefoot and pregnant, and TIED to the house? No wonder so many men have a visceral (as opposed to rational) reaction when they contemplate a female president.
These days I see a Congress (primarily House of Representatives) and men in legislatures across the country attempting to keep women as second-class citizens by eliminating our ability to control our bodies. As many quipsters have said, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament,” which is reasonably based on the reality that the biological effects of pregnancy and parenthood impact one’s ability to participate fully in the workplace and halls of power. Thus, being able to control the timing of when we will start a family is a fundamental part of allowing women real economic and political equality with men. The fight to put the reproductive genie back in the box has been escalated, I suspect, because they’ve seen what we are achieving in corporate boardrooms and electoral politics and they simply CAN’T STAND IT!!!
Caveat: I am not speaking here of the group among the male population who have evolved and seem to have the new DNA. The ones I am indicting here wouldn’t waste their energy even reading this.
As today is Mother’s Day, I would also mention that – as the mother of two adult sons – I do not include them in my indictment of those who disrespect and diminish women. I’m pleased to say that they are enlightened, evolved, and that I have every reason to be proud of them in regard to this, as well as many other issues.
So, maybe like the gun issue, things are not hopeless. We can hope that my sons and the sons of other women like me will turn the tide against the Republican waves of misogyny. We can hope that they have learned that society is better off when all of its citizens are equal participants, be they mothers, homemakers, businesswomen, legislators, or judges. We can hope that they know that the days of diminishing and enslaving women are as anachronistic as diminishing and enslaving our black citizens.
And while our sons are part of the equation to a future of female equality, our daughters are the other part. May they continue to fight for the rights we thought we won 40 years ago. As we’ve seen lately, these rights can slip away so easily. What do I want for Mother’s Day? The right of women to decide their own destinies and their having the opportunity and the means to do so. After all this time, after fighting for the right to vote, to enter into contracts, to own property and have credit cards, to study at any educational facility, use birth control, and the right to choose, is it too much to allow us our victories? Isn’t it time to let us frame our own futures?