The idea that the United States as a whole has granted access to women’s rights in a way that dictates no need to fight lulls the public into a false sense of accomplishment.
While it is true women’s rights have progressed since the onset of first and second waves of feminism, currently a war has been waged against women and threatens to take away gained achievements.
The 2012 presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney has brought to the forefront the issues of women, their bodies and how those bodies ought to be controlled.
Unlike neglected environmental topics not addressed by either candidate or questioned in the presidential debates, controversial statements concerning the denial of birth control, abortion, and rape have been rampant enough to make headlines and even allow their own website.
Republican congressional nominees Todd Akin, Steven King, Joe Walsh and most recently Richard Mourdock have had their fair share of offensive words.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said as an anti-abortion defense.
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said in an Indiana U.S. Senate debate. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
To which American comedian and actress Tina Fey replied at the Center for Reproductive Rights Inaugural Gala, “And if I have to listen to one more grey-faced man with a $2 haircut explain to me what rape is, I’m going to lose my mind.”
In an earlier press conference, Obama expressed similar sentiments.
“Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
“So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”
Romney did an endorsement advertisement for Mourdock that aired before Mourdock’s controversy. However, the Romney campaign still supports Mourdock despite disagreeing with his stance, according to Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney.
During the Oct. 16 debate Romney’s awkward phrasing “binders full of women” became an Internet viral hit. When taken in context “binders” appears harmless.
Romney refers to asking for binders full of resumes of female workings for gender equality recruiting efforts—later proven false. However, the binders remark can be coupled with another offhand statement made in the same debate.
“I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible,” Romney said, using a woman he had spoken to as an example who wanted to be home on time to prepare dinner and care for her children.
Suggesting flexible work hours would have been fine if Romney had endorsed them for both men and women. But it goes against the very notion of feminism to have women treated differently in the workplace under the presumption that women, by default, have children or house-related duties to attend to. Furthermore, Romney originally did not support the Lily Ledbetter Act that addresses gender discrimination based on unequal pay.
With possibilities of decreased federal funding to Planned Parenthood and insurance coverage on birth control, bans on abortion save for traditionally extreme cases, now is a crucial point in American politics for the woman’s vote and voice to be heard.
Why do political leaders still feel to need to impose their religious beliefs in a country founded under the separate of church and state clause?
“My religion defines who I am, and I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life,” said Vice President Joe Biden to opponent Paul Ryan in their Oct. 11 debate.
“I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people, women, that they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor.”
This type of resounding logic needs to be applied on a broader spectrum in order to work towards improvement not only for women, but in tackling other social issues.