Sunday, March 11, 2012

The War On Women...WOW

Ever since the fiasco that was the Susan G. Komen Foundation yanking grant money from Planned Parenthood under the ruse that PP was under congressional investigation for using federal monies to fund abortions, I've been trying to write this post.

The thing is other writers - both men and women - were writing about that specific incident in droves and writing about it much more succinctly than I ever could.

Then, before the flames burning in incensed women's bellies could be doused, the Catholic bishops and Republicans added significant fuel to the fire by insisting Obama's legislation mandating that contraceptive care for women employees was to be offered for free by health insurance companies - even if that health insurance was provided, in part, by a faith-based employer - was a slap in the face to the first amendment and religious freedom.

And, once again, I tried desperately to write what I was thinking and feeling but, once again, found a flood of others writing so well about it, I gave up because I couldn't make the words come out of my mouth in any kind of coherence.

Seeing the pictures of the panel of men - only men - testifying before congress on the issue had me pissed. Discovering that women were overtly banned from testifying on behalf of other women was nauseating. Hearing the talking heads say women should just put an aspirin between their knees as an effective mode of birth control had me in a rage.

Then, oh yes, there is more! MORE! The state of Virginia attempting to make vaginal ultrasounds mandatory for any woman seeking an abortion. Rick Santorum - that frothy mixture of lubricant and excrement - stating he cannot support women soldiers in combat because it compromises the mission.

And then, that Dickhead, Rush, had to chime in and call Sarah Fluke - a Georgetown University (a Catholic run university) law student - a slut and prostitute for daring to expect free access to contraceptives. How dare she?!


And, more than ever, I'm at a loss for words to describe just how thoroughly disgusted and angry I am with the people - both men and women - who think it's still OK to make MY vagina a forum for religious and political debate.

But I still couldn't write about it. Even though...

A war on women has been openly declared by religious leaders (who would be better off ensuring their numbers weren't molesting innocent children rather than worrying about whether or not reasonable contraceptive care was available to women who consent to sexual contact), by political hopefuls and leaders, by women who'd been brainwashed by the idea of money in their coffers if they'd only comply with the will of men and the will of a gawd I do not subscribe to.

Still...I was wordless.

Until Thursday.

Thursday I attended an all-day conference for mid- to high-level non-profit executives. 160-ish attendees - 2/3 of them women. The conference started off well - the first presenter  was a well-respected woman, intelligent, wonderful, funny and well known to me. I was enjoying myself.

The second presentation was given by two men from the investment industry talking about volatility in the stock market. As the first man got started, he put up a graphic depicting the highs and lows for each year of the market. The last 4 years, as we know, swung more wildly than ever before.

"Why do you think that might be?" he asked his audience. And then he went on to say, "Beginning 4 or 5 years ago, access to news is instantaneous. We react and the market reacts more rapidly now because, up until 2008, if you wanted information to spread you had to use the telegraph, the telephone, or the tell-a-woman."

Dead silence.

He stuttered and nervously laughed as the energy in the room went cold.

What he said afterward, I cannot tell you. While his joke was relatively mild, after women had been enduring weeks of blatant sexism from several sources, it was in terrible terrible taste. His credibility, at that moment, was completely shot and nothing this man could say would carry any weight with me.

It was at that moment I decided that, no matter how lost for words I was, I would no longer be silent. I will no longer let gender-biased comments and jokes stand without confronting the speaker. I will no longer stand by and allow other people to fight for my rights as a human being.

The one weapon I have plenty of is my words and I will rise up and use them in defense of myself - to confront injustice and discrimination - no matter the form or the forum.

Thus, my evaluation of his presentation was scathing. The e-mail I wrote to the sponsor - the head of a large foundation...a woman who was in attendance - made my position very clear. Sexism will not be tolerated.

Now...where is my copy of The Vagina Monologues???

Photo Credit


Lucy said...

Goodness, I need to check out what Rush said because he seems to have people in more of an uproar than usual, I don't pay attention to him so I totally missed his last big guffaw! I need to google him.

Gosh, guess that speaker should have researched his audience but nothing worse than having a joke go so wrong. You really do have to know your audience. I bet the head of the conference got a lot of emails.

Elizabeth said...

I was so happy to hear that my company (which is owned by a man but has many women in management positions as well as the director) pulled out of the Susan G Koman walk for the cure after all of this craziness. Enough is enough, it is as though the more the world changes with internet and "progressive" leaders the more they go after Women! It is infuriating. Oh, also..another huge thing in my mind was the fact that Chris Brown performed at the Grammy's and the entire reaction both at first and now to him BEATING Rihanna. I don't care if she forgave him, society should not. He BEAT a woman black and blue, and can go to some middle schools and say he was bad and that's it? Blah.

annie said...

At least your colleagues sat in silence. I get the feeling sometimes that even women don't really see the latent sexism that surrounds us a good deal of the time, which is why I seldom write about it anymore. It's like "crickets" b/c men, mostly, refuse to believe it is a problem and women would prefer that if we do point things out - we do it "politely" to avoid being dismissed as sensitive or emotional. But the way I see it, we are dismissed generally anyway, so why not get our backs up?

Margi said...

I've been in a similar boat. I almost pulled out of participating in the Romp because of the nonsense with PP and SGK. As I'd already paid my money, though, I figured just participating wouldn't make anything "worse." Sigh.

As for the comment at the conference, really? The dude thought *that* would be funny after the abuses thrown around these past few weeks? Oh dear. I'm glad you stood up and said something to the sponsor. Now I'm pissed too!

Unknown said...

Good for you, Jane. I keep getting more and more angry.

Anyone who objects to the current climate towards women does need to speak up-- that is something we can do. I'm glad you did and I will too.

Maybe all our voices together will have impact.

Jo said...

Loss of words? Hardly, you found just the right ones for this post.
Excellent job.

I get so upset when women don't fly off the handle at men making decisions about abortion and birth control. Seriously? Those are MY issues. They are things that effect MY body and MY health. I have never met a man who was financially forced to carry a child to term. A child never wanted, never loved and never cared for during the 9.5 month development. Then hand that labored for child over to someone to find it a good home. Not saying adoption isn't a good option for some, just saying, if you aren't the one with the pregnancy, shut up. Same with birth control. If you can become pregnant, you should be able to obtain birth control if you want it. PERIOD. Insurance companies can afford that before they can pay for all those unwanted babies.
Maybe we should impanel a group of women to decide at what age circumcision should be performed and whether or not insurance should pay for that. It isn't medically necessary, it's cosmetic. Hummm

a.eye said...

Well said. Perhaps you weren't at a loss of words before, it just wasn't your moment to share your words until you had this experience.

Again, well said. And, I'm glad you sent a message to the sponsor.

@NativeMikeAdams said...

Yay Jane! You keep it got me riled a bit. And Jo...right on! Excellent point. Have you ever read Marilyn Waring: She is great! She created a documentary called, "look who's counting" based on her book, "if women counted." Along with Jared Diamond, she is one of my heroes.

Denine Severino Taylor said...

This is awesome, Jane. And I agree with Jo -- you found just the right words at just the right time. I was outraged at the comment's from the Rush-Burger, but extremely pleased that so many advertisers pulled out of his show. Maybe that's a sign that such garbage and vicious attacks will no longer be tolerated and subsidized. Well done.

Celeste Neumann said...

Tit for tat. Someone posted me this link on G+ today. About a female senator wanting to sanction Viagra in the same way conservatives want to sanction women.
When stuff like this makes the news in Europe, people tend to believe you're going for the jugular, and the Second American Civil War is emminent.
In case any of you feel the need of sneeking off to Europe to escape political mayhem, I'm blogging on your rights.

Anonymous said...

Damn, I do adore you.

Randy said...

Not only that, the guy didn't know what he was talking about. Recent Stock Market volatility has very little to do with communication. Essentially the same communication infrastructure that causes volatility existed 10 years earlier. The reasons are numerous, but that is not even in the top 5.

Gaelyn said...

Excellent! You said this well. My vagina is nobody's business but my own (and anybody I want to share it with).

We are Womyn!

Bon said...

You've captured exactly how I've been feeling: so angry that my usual giant pool of available words is suddenly dried up.

The entirety of this war is, I believe, yet to be seen. What we see going on is just the tip of a nasty iceberg.

I will be girding up; adding words, greaves, exhortations, gauntlets, and exclamations. No more shocked silence.

alienbody said...

I just keep thinking that the_The Handmaids Tale_ is coming to life...and I'm frightened.

The Host said...

You know, from here in the Great White North, I have watched somewhat bemusedly as the campaign trail got a little ridiculous in the "No, I'M the most Conservative! I think Leviticus was one awesome dude!" but it's getting out of hand. I have a lot of American friends and I'm a little scared for you all.

We're not perfect, but we are pretty good about leaving the lady bits alone. Actually, we're pretty good about leaving most things private alone. We have lots of space up here. And cookies!

@NativeMikeAdams said...


Masked Mom said...

Running ever so far behind on reading blogs this past ten days or so...but good for you! As someone who works in a male-dominated environment, I am often at war with myself about how much of a stand to make about so-called "innocent" gender-based "jokes" and comments. It's made all the worse by the fact that my female boss is not at all good at supervisory tasks or interpersonal communication, so she tends to laugh everything off or even play along while the men she is technically in charge of continue to walk all over her and disrespect her. It's a little much some days.