I Can’t Believe We Have to Do This Again

By Amanda Schroeder of Portland, Oregon. Amanda is an organizer for UNITE Against the War on Women, Oregon..

For my last birthday my mother gave me a copy of "When Everything Changed", the Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to Present, by Gail Collins. In her book, Ms Collins chronicles the history of the American woman: from when Phyllis Schlafly and the WASP housewife was the idealized representation of American femininity to when Lois Rabinowitz was thrown out of traffic court for wearing trousers to when the requirements of women to be accepted in the travel industry was to be size 4 and single. While reading, I found myself at times shocked by the underhanded tactics of those who would oppress women or any underrepresented group of people. Some of the anecdotes made me laugh out-loud, but more often than not our history made me gasp, cringe, and weep. What was truly astounding was the boundless strength of the American woman – the tenacity, the veracity, and the solidarity!

This gift from my mother was accompanied with an, “I remember all of this.” We discussed her memories of when women didn’t wear trousers, when women were denied opportunities in the workplace, when a woman did not have control or input into her reproductive health, when there were those who were not allowed to vote – or more exactly – were presented with insurmountable obstacles, to include violence, at the voting booth. “These were times when we fought and wept and cried and laughed and learned to love ourselves.”

The gift of the book armed me with this history, our history, informing and empowering my consciousness it lifted a veil. I started to really look at the current situation within the United States, and I began to ask questions. I asked myself, my mother, my husband, my Union president, my legislators, and pretty much anyone who would listen – Do you see what is happening? I mean do you really realize what is happening?

In September 2011, at the AFL-CIO Next Up Young Workers Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I facilitated a discussion on what I called, The Strategic Deconstruction of Progress Made in the Women’s Movement by Current Legislation by Weakening Critical Programs and Legislation that Protects Our Rights. It may not roll off the tongue, but it does accurately describe the current threats to the gains my mother so proudly recounted achieving. During this discussion we talked about the expiration of the Violence Against Women Act, the legislation to limit voters’ rights, the attacks to Social Security and Medicare, a general disregard for the Civil Rights Act (an alarming weakening in anti-discrimination laws by lack of decisive actions against violators), the ever-mounting attacks on reproductive health care, the weakening of Title IX, and of course the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision. I didn’t have a big “ask” of my participants, but rather a continuous constructive dialogue and a promise to VOTE and make certain that those around us understand the critical importance of voting. I only asked for a conversation (and a vote).

Since this discussion, the attacks have only grown bolder. We have proposals for laws with definitions of “forcible rape” and requirements for sonograms for women who have to make the very difficult and personal decision of terminating pregnancies. We were subjected to inflammatory rhetoric from radio pundits demanding that a woman who wants contraception to be available through insurance is a “slut” and that if insurance is going to pay for birth control, then her sex acts should be broadcast for everyone’s viewing pleasure. There are an alarming number of definitive challenges to our rights in the voting booth, and as shocking as it may seem, Wisconsin functionally criminalized being a single mother.

I was introduced to the incredible UNITE Against the War on Women movement on February 29, 2012, and it occurred to me, this is it! This is the answer to my big “ask” from Minneapolis. The attacks by the rhetorical right are continuous and seem to come from an endless source of some moral justification. UNITE Against the War on Women is a grassroots movement that brings together women, regardless of political affiliation, in solidarity - a movement that provides a venue for both sisters and brothers to denounce the current rhetoric and begin a productive, constructive, and empowered conversation. UNITE Against the War on Women calls us all to action!

Together, throughout Oregon, across the United States, and around the World, men and women alike will raise our collective voice in Solidarity and Strength to combat the oppressive, anti-woman, anti-equality political rhetoric that has taken hold of our nation. I saw a brilliant picture the other day, which brought me back to Gail Collins’ book, "When Everything Changed". It simply had an activist, holding a sign that stated, “I can’t believe I have to do this again.”

All I can say is, Sister, thank you for your continued activism. On April 28, 2012, wherever you are, we in Oregon will march on the capitol steps in Salem as we UNITE Against the War on Women!

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Mitt Romney to women, yesterday: "You want birth control? Vote for the other guy!" They will!! http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/03/20/447919/romney-vote-for-other-guy-contraception/

    Women don't want an aging foreign pope to control their health care and their bodies.

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      Thanks Nancy!!! Please plan on attending our rally on April 28, 2012, Salem Oregon from 1000 to 1300 as we Unite Against the War on Women!!!

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    Let's make sure we recognize the root cause of the war on women. The people that carry out this war are fueled by their beliefs...their religious beliefs. Currently in the U.S. and other religious nations, there is a religious double standard in relation to discourse (amongst other things.) Religious ideology is shielded from criticism. Some countries put you to death for honest criticism of religion...we tend to snuff it out by accusing the critics of bigotry and intolerance. A large chunk of the country has apparently already decided for the rest of us that religion is inherently good and that's that. The more we foster an environment where all ideologies are open to scrutiny, including popular unsupported faith-based ideologies, the quicker we will get to a place where women don't have to worry about religious people trying to control them. The free exercise of religion ought not trump freedom of speech. Tolerance does not mean we should tolerate bad ideas. It's no coincidence that the least religious democracies have created the happiest, healthiest, and most progressive societies on Earth.

    "Project Reason is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. The foundation draws on the talents of prominent and creative thinkers in a wide range of disciplines to encourage critical thinking and erode the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world." http://www.project-reason.org/

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        Thank you, good analysis. Personal faith and institutional religion are not the same. Institutional religion is too much rooted in the domination paradigm, whereas any true spirituality is rooted in the communion paradigm.

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          So Bill...is the Bible not religious?

          "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." (I Corinthians 11:8-9)

          "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (I Corinthians 11:3)

          I don't know what your "personal faith" is but this is from the Bible and the Bible is obviously an important religious text to say the least. And it just so happens that the war on women is carried out by the "faithful." May not be your brand of religion, but it's religion, very popular religious beliefs in fact. You can of course find the same stuff on the Koran.

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            Faith is not belief. Faith precedes any scripture. But you don't seem to interested in learning from anyone, just to promote your agenda at the expense of whatever topic is being discussed. It's become a religion for you.

            No FYI my personal faith is rooted in any textual or conceptual external material. For your information, the root word for faith is from the Latin Fidare, to trust in, not credere, to believe.

            But enough.. the contributor of this blog post deserves better than to have it hijacked by wars on religion.

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              This post is a result of a religious war. You have an agenda just as I do. Mine includes, "encourage critical thinking and erode the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world." You keep on protecting superstition, I'll keep fighting against it.

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        Oh right, religious fantasies have nothing to do with the religious war on women. Sure, these people would be waging a war on women even if this kind of stuff wasn't in their holy book.

        "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (I Corinthians 11:3)

        "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." (I Corinthians 11:8-9)

        The sooner you and the rest of the protectors of fantasy-based ideology accept that people's religious beliefs matter....what is written in their books matters, the sooner we can truly address these problems like the war on women.

        So are the quotes from the Bible not Christian?

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          Um, Joshua, Sue was agreeing with you - and taking the analysis one step further back.

          You're so prepared for people to disagree with your premise that you're having trouble spotting agreement when it's right in front of your nose.

          Sigh.

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            I disagree with your interpretation of her comment. She seems to be saying what something similar to what I have heard many times before....that religion in and of itself is just fine, it's people that make religion and religious institutions into "Their own sick image."

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    It makes me ill that we have to go fight all those battles again. I am grateful to live in Oregon, which is fairly woman-friendly. However, we need to stand up for our sisters in the other 49 states and remain vigilant to protect our rights here.

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      Jenny, join us April 28 in Salem at the State Capitol from 10 to 1 for the Unite Against the War On Women Rally! For more information: http://www.wearewomenmarch.net/

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    Women are the backbone and the strength of the Democratic Party. They will vote in massive numbers in Nov. 2012 for the party that supports them. The new superstar of our party is Elizabeth Warren and she or Kirsten Gillibrand have an excellent chance of being our next president in 2016.

    The rabid right is making its last gasp, and they have succeeded in showing their true misogynist stripes. Women in this country won't stand for the oppression the GOP has in mind for them.

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      "Women in this country won't stand for the oppression the GOP has in mind for them."

      Really? Lets be completely honest. Many religious women in this country will not only "stand for the oppression," but they will fight tooth and nail in favor of the oppression.

      Is there any worse enemy of women than religion?

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    I fought hard and long for the ERA and I can't believe we're back to 1950's thinking in these United States. This is not a religious fight, it's a Constitutional fight. WOMAN may not be 'equal', but women do have basic fundamental human rights and I think the laws being passed are unconstitutional. I would love to be in Virginia on 4/28/12, but I will be in Oregon. Oh and, Joshua Welch, you may remember Jesus Christ had a mother.

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      And you may remember this from the Bible...you know the word of the imaginary Creator.

      "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (I Corinthians 11:3)

      "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." (I Corinthians 11:8-9)

      Do you actually deny that the war on women isn't carried out by the religious? What do you think these Bible quotes mean?

      Here's a very simple idea. If humans try to understand the world/determine right and wrong through science, evidence, etc., instead of unsupported religious fantasies, things tend to work out better.

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          It's quite unfortunate that religious ideology drives so much of our politics. I will continue to point out the connection between faith-based fantasies and the problems they cause whether you lke it or not

          I care about much more than I wonder if you ever considered the idea that you may actually be wrong about something.

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        Joshua, I support what you have posted on this topic. Having been married to a woman who has liberated herself from a fundamentalist Christian background for forty-three years I feel qualified to state that you can not reason a person from a position that they did not reason themselves into. Happily, we have sufficient information about the time of Christ to document that it was the owners of the tables that he overturned in the temple who were given authority to carry out the crucifiction. It is time that we ask our devout bretheren to actually apply the ten commandments to their leaders policies. And it is way past time to turn over the tables of the money lenders and drive them out. End the Fed. Happy Easter, Bill.

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    The religous right is not the only group waging this war. Conservative squawkers, idiotic employers, mysoginists and anyone else who believes that women do not deserve equality is equally responsible.

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      Press any of that group you just mentioned and you'll be unlikely to find any of them who don't lay claim to Christian religious faith (in the U.S. anyway) -- however ludicrous the claim may appear to anyone who understands Christianity.

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