December 20 2016 Dispatch #11 Day 42 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
So I MUST return to the subject of my Fourth Dispatch, calling-out Misogyny.
This word/issue is increasingly excluded in reporting about the Pussy-Grabbing President-Select. Charles Blow’s otherwise excellent piece decrying as not normal an “unstable, unqualified, undignified demagogue” surrounding “himself with a rogue’s gallery of white supremacy sympathizers, anti-Muslim extremists, devout conspiracy theorists, anti-science doctrinaires and climate-change deniers”. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/opinion/donald-trump-this-is-not-normal.html. C’mon Charles man!! How could you leave out misogynists?!
Katha Pollitt writes: “Trump will change the country for women in ways that won’t be easy to reverse. His Supreme Court nominees will shape our laws for decades; the coming gerrymandering of districts in 2020 will make statehouses and Congress even more favorable to Republicans. Abortion rights, access to affordable birth control, Title IX, equal pay—it’s hard to imagine any of them faring well under the new regime. Why do you think Trump chose Mike Pence? We now have as vice president a man who tried to shut the federal government down over funding for Planned Parenthood; who, as governor of Indiana, pushed through a bill permitting discrimination against LGBTQ people; who tried to force women to hold funerals for aborted or miscarried embryos, who declared that Roe v. Wade needs to be consigned to the ash-heap of history. Conditions will be worst for the women already most disadvantaged: women of color, Muslim and immigrant women, low-income women, the disabled (did you know that Trump has promised to slash funding for services for people with disabilities?). If Roe v. Wade is overturned, or if the Supreme Court reverses itself and allows restrictions like the ones recently struck down in Texas, then getting a safe abortion will be hardest for women who can’t afford to travel to states where it remains legal. If social services are gutted, low-income women—disproportionately women of color—will be the ones with no place to go if they’re abused or homeless. If Obamacare is repealed, there goes medical care—including no-co-pay birth control and mammograms—for millions of women.” https://www.thenation.com/article/an-unabashed-misogynist-is-in-charge-of-our-country-now-what/
Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, says Pence’s ascendance to the second most powerful position in the U.S. government is a “tremendous coup for the radical religious right. Pence—and his fellow Christian supremacist militants—would not have been able to win the White House on their own. For them, Donald Trump was a godsend….Their primary agenda, on a social level, is basically taking us back to medieval times when it comes to the rights of women, the rights of immigrants, the rights of the poor, the humanhood of all of these sort of vulnerable, targeted groups. https://www.democracynow.org/2016/11/21/jeremy_scahill_mike_pence_has_militant
We must stop letting Misogyny get a pass. We will unapologetically insist that liberals, progressives, movement activists, SEE the toxic fertilizer that Misogyny offers for all forms of hatred and oppression. Without relentless resistance to Misogyny, White Supremacy and other bigotries in America will continue to thrive. Misogyny cuts (literally) across race, class, religion, ethnicity. Misogyny works to deaden, disable, depress, destroy all women — depriving our work of our most potent weapon – the power of women out-raged and united.
Misogyny must always be part of the analysis for fighting for equity and justice.
The repossession by women of our bodies will bring far more essential change to human society than the seizing of the means of production by workers……The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet. Adrienne Rich
As Republicans have increased their control of state legislatures and governorships, and Republican gerrymandering has led to Tea Party Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, the War on Women has intensified in America during the last decade. While abortion/choice garners most attention, women face retrenchment in many areas such as employment opportunities, pay equity, insurance coverage, anti-violence legislation, financial support for low-income families, education funding. If you don’t realize the breadth of the War on Women, then you must learn.
One of the worst elements of misogyny and war on women is the ongoing normalization of treating/defining reproductive health rights as an issue of religious beliefs. Republicans have peddled this aggressively for decades and Democrats have been complicit. Uh-huh, men making decisions about controlling women’s bodies and God is on their side. American is becoming a Christian supremacist country and misogyny has been and continues to be the leading edge. (And we dare to point fingers at Islam?!)
The white Christian right represented a substantial voting bloc for Trump who played to their fear and loathing for Hillary Clinton and her public presence as a powerful woman. She was not just pro-choice but seen as pro-abortion, she was seen as pro-marriage equality, she was seen as pro-gay rights, she was seen as anti-family. She represented the kind of demonized feminism that has animated their movement for a couple of decades now. http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/christian-right-donald-trump
And I am SICK of the term “culture war” used to describe struggle over women’s right to choose. These words hide that fact that religious beliefs are driving fundamental social and political decision in our ostensibly secular country – specifically evangelical christian beliefs. And I am ANGRY when articles about the “culture wars” frequently appear in the Style or Entertainment section of newspapers…REALLY?! Are we talking about wallpaper or women’s lives!?!?!
We must insist on new language/words/rhetoric that can inspire and catalyze actions necessary to take back control over women and their bodies. Choice, anti-choice, pro-life, pro-abortion — these words deliberately require a focus on choosing to end a life, and limits the discussion of women’s rights to an issue defined by religion.
SISTERSONG www.sistersong.org: This spectacular and inspiring group shows the way forward. Their incisive analyses for action build on their deep understanding of how institutionalized white supremacy, misogyny and economic inequity work together every moment to ensure the degradation of women. To wit:
Reproductive Justice is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. Reproductive Justice is about access, not choice. Reproductive Justice is not just about abortion but instead includes access to comprehensive healthcare services, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, domestic violence assistance, adequate wages to support our families, safe homes, quality childcare…you understand, basic Human Rights.
Reproductive Justice!! This is the Leadership and Language we need & must use.
We are relieved for a “less restrictive law” in Ohio because the other option was so grim. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/kasich-ohio-heartbeat-abortion-bill.html
This is how it works folks, when fascism and institutionalized oppression are normalized. When the man beating his wife agrees to only break one arm instead of two, are we grateful!?!?! Matter of fact reporting about women with health insurance rushing to get long-lasting contraception before they lose coverage as if this is normal!?!? http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/opinion/rolling-back-abortion-rights-after-donald-trumps-election.html And of course, working class, low income and poor women are cruelly left to fend for themselves, as usual.
“Right to Life” by Marge Piercy
A woman is not a pear tree thrusting her fruit in mindless fecundity into the world. Even pear trees bear heavily in one year and rest and grow the next. An orchid gone wild drops few warm rotting fruit in the grass but the trees stretch high and wiry gifting the birds forty feet up among inch long thorns broken atavistically from the smooth wood.
A woman is not a basket you place your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood hen you can slip duck eggs under. Not the purse holding the coins of your descendants till you spend them in wars. Not a bank where your genes gather interest and interesting mutations in the tainted rain, any more than you are.
You plant corn and you harvest it to eat or sell. You put the lamb in the pasture to fatten and haul it in to butcher for chops. You slice the mountain in two for a road and gouge the high plains for coal and the waters run muddy for miles and years. Fish die but you do not call them yours unless you wished to eat them.
Now you legislate mineral rights in a woman. You lay claim to her pastures for grazing, fields for growing babies like iceberg lettuce. You value children so dearly that none ever go hungry, none weep with no one to tend them when mothers work, none lack fresh fruit, none chew lead or cough to death and your orphanages are empty. Every noon the best restaurants serve poor children steaks.
At this moment at nine o’clock a partera is performing a table top abortion on an unwed mother in Texas who can’t get Medicaid any longer. In five days she will die of tetanus and her little daughter will cry and be taken away. Next door a husband and wife are sticking pins in the son they did not want. They will explain for hours how wicked he is, how he wants discipline.
We are all born of woman, in the rose of the womb we suckled our mother’s blood and every baby born has a right to love like a seedling to sun. Every baby born unloved, unwanted, is a bill that will come due in twenty years with interest, an anger that must find a target, a pain that will beget pain.
A decade downstream a child screams, a woman falls, a synagogue is torched, a firing squad is summoned, a button is pushed and the world burns.
I will choose what enters me, what becomes of my flesh. Without choice, no politics, no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield, not your uranium mine, not your calf for fattening, not your cow for milking.
You may not use me as your factory. Priests and legislators do not hold shares in my womb or my mind.
This is my body. If I give it to you I want it back. My life is a non-negotiable demand.”
Circles on the Water: The Selected Poems of Marge Piercy
Published 1982 Alfred A. Knopf, NY