The Obama Presidency has been fraught with examples of how society in the United States is not ready for prime time. The Obama Presidency began with him signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act . This sent a clarion call to the country that he was serious about equality on many fronts. Since that day he has been effective in dealing with issues that many Progressives wanted to see addressed and changed. Eliminating the obvious discrimination of the military policy with regard to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was a monumental achievement and a day for deserved celebration by the LGBTQ community.
There are many more examples, but one constant thread over the course of this presidency had been a Right Wing battle to continue to put in place policies that are beyond discriminatory and are, in fact regressive and harmful toward women of all ages, types and backgrounds. Whether it is at the local level, the state level or the federal level, which predominantly white male lawmakers dominate, we have seen over and over again that they are unwilling to step into the present and finally do what most of us believe should have been done decades ago.
Have we forgotten about the fight for the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment)? Have we forgotten that every time the United States gets closer to true equality we somehow find a way to pull back just before going forward? Whether we are talking race, religion, gender, or any other of a number of issues that can and would, once and for all, provide true equality in this country, we find a way to fail a myriad of constituencies. On THAT score US lawmakers have been very predictable and constant.
When a then State Representative and current Lt. Governor candidate Lisa Brown uses the word vagina in a speech on the House floor and then is barred from speaking the next day as a punishment for uttering that word, a word that is about as offensive as using the word milk, it tells us that we are not close to resolving inequality between the sexes.
When we see a state legislature, like the one we have in Michigan, force women to buy “rape insurance” because their supposed morality and religious beliefs somehow trump our constitutional rights, it is a clear example of the war on women. Or how about the now infamous Hobby Lobby case that again places a spotlight on women’s rights to choose and how they pay for contraception? Or the ongoing battle to win freedom to get government out of a woman’s life, and almost literally, out of their pants (or dress, if you will)?
We all know I am just scratching the surface here.
I bring this up because I had an interesting experience that spanned out over a three-day period last week and into the weekend. I had posted a political cartoon by Detroit Free Press award winning editorial cartoonist Mike Thompson (as featured in this commentary, follow him on Twitter at @ThompsonToons). It appealed to me because it simply sends a message that resonates.
No harm, no foul, right?
Not so fast.
Admittedly, I am hardcore passionate about many issues and, when I have felt over the course of my career as a radio host that certain issues deserved a steady stream of attention, I have given them their deserved time, sometimes dedicating a weekly regular guest to speak on and talk about issues, policy, reality, etc. Of those issues, women’s rights and equality has always been a mainstay of my radio show.
Whether is was a weekly segment with Planned Parenthood, or the National Organization for Women, or just about any issue that makes the news or more importantly doesn’t make the news, I was there to champion their causes and to provide light where darkness usually reigned. I am proud of my advocacy work and know I have helped in many ways. But this is not about me.
I was a bit surprised at the reaction to that cartoon. One of my “friends” from my distant past decided to comment on this cartoon, taking the conversation where I would have never thought it would go. Her extreme conservative roots and venomous attack on a Pandora’s box full of issues left me incredulous. It was ill-informed and filled with talking points you would expect from someone who sources their information from one or two well known conservative “news” sources. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. She was terribly illiterate, was a horrible typist, which coming from me who can barely hunt and peck, says something, and her LONG string of attacks on women and her denial of what is happening in the world and the country with respect to women’s rights was astounding, insulting to other women, and just plain ignorant.
I normally would not have responded to this multi-post rant, but it was so far off center and had no constructive purpose in any way. So I took the bait and, although I do not regret doing that, I am disappointed and discouraged by what happened next.
She made it clear that Liberals are uneducated, can’t see beyond their noses, have no religious backbone, etc. Her vitriol and hatred oozed from her words even in their incoherent ranting. Although what she posted made no sense, she found a way to offend, in a BIG way, in fact. An ongoing rant over the course of a few days required me to delete her comments, ban her from my Facebook page, and report her to Facebook for a variety of reasons. And that’s for starters.
Here is where my discouragement comes from and my headline lives and breathes: As I followed her Facebook posts on her own page and that of many others, it was clear to me that there are women who think the war on them is a Liberal idea made up to just scare them and that Liberals just don’t get that women are really OK with the way the world sees them and treats them. There are women who believe that life gets no better than this, that they don’t need any more rights than they already have, and that every issue where I would have a definitive negative reaction to and want to defend, to them would be a waste of time and nothing but lies, even if I have facts to back me up. In fact, after some fairly intensive digging, I found, completely by accident, a community “forum” where women go to complain about Liberals and the Liberal agenda and how the lies about anything from choice to women wearing pants (seriously) is open to discussion and dissection.
This community is run by three attorneys who have a legal “op-in” statement that basically threatens anyone who publicizes this group in any form on any other web portal with opening themselves up to litigation, even going so far as to say that, even if they can’t win a case against anyone who breaks their rules, they are willing to spend any amount of money to pursue charges, to the point of breaking you financially. Now that’s comforting and I imagine that many of the residents of this on-line community are procreating and teaching both male and female children this philosophy. Wrap your head around that!
As a quick side note, when I tried to get back into this “Forum” my IP address had been blocked, barring me from entry and when I tried it from elsewhere, it was blocked there as well. Upon further examination i realized that you suddenly have to register your IP address with them and then they approve you for entrance within two days.
The real soldiers may very well be women like the ones I encountered over a three-day period of time. They are so committed to their cause that they will talk louder than we do, force topics that are not related to what we are supporting or defending, and are willing to take themselves down before admitting to you and I, us “Liberals”, could even remotely be correct. Yeah, it really is that hardcore for them.
Certainly white, male lawmakers are great accomplices to this woman’s army of hatred and ignorant rants. It’s not that I didn’t think there were women who didn’t think this way or that there were women who have worked hard to elect men to protect their point of view. I get all of that. But I wasn’t prepared to have to accept the reality that this group may be much bigger than I realized. If they are not that large in numbers, so be it, but I believe their threat is real and, between that group and the apathetic subset of society that just isn’t plugged into politics or change, well, we clearly have a problem.
I realize it is not easy to fight this good fight and to gain equality, which is a cause worth fighting for, and I will. But the army of soldiers that may be living among us with a secretive agenda to beat others back with single issues or by just doing nothing is both hard to fight against, but also more difficult to identify.
As long as the issues we fight for and the enemy we fight against exist, our work is not done. I foolishly thought we could easily identify the enemy but the sad reality is that the enemy was among us all along.