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The ‘War on Women’ Continues, and Here’s How

Yo. There’s a war on women. I know that sounds so 2012 because that’s when politicians and interest groups of all kinds beat us over the head with that phrase, “War on Women,” at every turn. I’m a woman who proudly wears the labels of feminist and activist but even I tired of the term during the last 12 months. I was especially turned off by the language of war being tossed around so cavalierly in some instances, when we have Americans and foreign civilians dying in actual wars right now. But (wo)man, there really is a war on women out here! How so? We’re barely out of the first month of 2013 and already we’ve been inundated by rhetoric, policies, and very bad blogging that attack women’s health, safety, sanity, and rights. Let’s review a few:

  • The Abortion Debate Rages On: This year marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in the United States. While vast strides have been made in women’s health and professional lives because of the provision of safe, legal abortion services, the opposition has grown ever more vehement and politically crafty. Is there nothing anti-abortion extremists won’t try? The answer is no if you take the latest attempt by New Mexico lawmaker, Cathrynn Brown, to block access to legal abortion. According to Brown, rape victims should be prevented from having abortions because, in so doing, they’d be destroying evidence of the crime. Really. The proposed legislation reads:

Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.

I must say that these folks sure are getting creative these days. Under the guise of prosecuting perpetrators of sexual assault, Team Anti-Abortion would force a rape-victim to bear her attacker’s child. If this is not an attack on the physical and emotional sanctity of a woman’s body – her privacy, as defined in Roe v. Wade – then I don’t know what is.

  • Women in Combat: In January, the Department of Defense finally lifted its ban on women serving in combat. According to the Associated Press, “the groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units.” What many understand as a major civil rights and workplace equality victory for women has been denounced and ridiculed by others even though, as Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) said, the decision “reflects the reality of 21st century military operations.” So what’s the beef with women now having the ability (should they meet the proper requirements, of course) to serve in combat? One writer says that the new policy will inevitably lead to lax military standards across the board. Sounds a lot like arguments made about affirmative action to me. Noted “Mens Rights Activist” and crazy person Phyllis Schlafly asserts that more women will be raped as a result and it’ll be on their heads for putting such irresistible temptation in front of their fellow soldiers. An idiot on a message board proclaimed that with this decision, women have now lost the right to “complain” about domestic violence you know, since we wanna fight with the big boys we ought to “square up and woman up …  No more victims. We are on an even field of battle.” Oh.
  • VAWA Reauthorization: Speaking of domestic violence, the Violence Against Women Act has, for the first time since its establishment in 1994, not been reauthorized by Congress. In what’s technically a holdover from 2012, the 112th Congress just let VAWA run out after certain lawmakers (*cough Republicans*) took issue with certain provisions of the act, namely, policies to help Native women on reservations, LGBTQ victims, and undocumented immigrant women. The new Congress will have to start all over again to make sure these necessary protections are reinstated.

What’s really sad is that I could go on with the examples like that sexist NY Post cover of Hillary Clinton for instance, but space and my personal peace of mind will not permit it. It’s clear to me that the War on Women is not just an election year rallying cry but a real thing having tangible effects on women and families across the country. For this we really do need women in combat roles – combating the rhetoric and underhanded politics that seek to chip away at our progress. Stay woke, y’all.

Last 5 posts by Nakia D. Hansen