Dispatch #53 June 20th 2019
Day 956 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 881 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
Toward the end of her powerfully elegaic new book, These Truths A History of the United States (2018 WW Norton & Co), Jill Lepore describes how the Republic Party in 1980 deliberately abandoned its decades of support for women’s rights (including the ERA, contraception/family planning, and abortion/choice) in order to catalyze an engaged base comprising Catholics and evangelical Christians, as well as white conservatives troubled by civil rights and anti-war activism and the relatively progressive Democratic domestic policies. Driven by seasoned political/PR consultants with money to burn, this ruthless political power grab – powered by conflating the ERA with communism, feminism with the destruction of traditional family and abortion with the murder of children — took just a few years. (See generally Chapter 15 Battle Lines)
We must unequivocally denounce and reject this patriarchal narrative that makes women’s bodies the battleground for power. We must call-out and shame-out this Misogyny Hiding in Plain Sight.
The uproar about Biden’s “flip-flop” for his decades of support for the Hyde Amendment reveals how women’s rights are so routinely degraded. Shock and dismay voiced by Democrats who have been fully complicit with the Republicans in weaponizing women’s bodies and are now, finally, being called out. A recent New York Times article – front page above the fold – lamented the loss of nuance in the abortion debates.
The nuance in how Americans like Ms. Smith-Holmes view abortion has largely fallen out of the noisy national dialogue about when women should be able to end their pregnancies. Complex questions — of medicine, morality, personal empowerment and the proper role of government — are often reduced to the kind of all-or-nothing propositions that are ever more common in the polarized politics of the Trump era.
In the Democratic Party, where politicians could once straddle the abortion divide by airing personal misgivings while also promoting supportive policies, holding a gradated view is no longer the norm. The debate on the left today is far less modulated than it was a decade ago when Barack Obama, then the party’s presidential nominee, spoke of how Americans wrestled with the issue in good faith, saying that “anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention. www.nytimes.com/2019/06/15/us/politics/abortion-debate-pennsylvania.html
So yeah, the language is enraging — personal empowerment!? And the discussion equally enraging – modulated debate!? Hey Obama, no denying here about the gravity of the abortion issue — a smoke screen for violating women’s human rights.
Women’s human rights/civil rights demand Reproductive Justice – the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent children in safe and sustainable communities. Thank you SisterSong!! www.sistersong.net/reproductive-justice
Let’s be clear that the mainstream media and politicians are characterizing as intolerant, unyielding and divisive the insistence that women’s human rights not be violated. Since America runs on institutionalized white supremacy and misogyny, that women’s human rights are less inviolate isn’t surprising. A friend of mine once observed, if men could get pregnant, then contraception and abortion would be sacraments.
We must demand that reproductive justice and women’s human rights dictate the terms for abortion discussions. No need for moral angst, religious handwringing or national debate. As the bumper sticker says, if you don’t believe in abortion, then don’t have one.
We must demand that misogyny-hiding-in-plain-sight terms – e.g., pro-life, pro-choice, anti-choice – be expunged and replaced by one term: reproductive justice. We must demand that religious beliefs and values cannot be weaponized to violate women’s human rights. No politicians can hold a gradated view on women’s human rights; such persons are responsible for the thousands of poor women whose health and well-being have been and continue to be sacrificed on the altar of the Hyde Amendment since 1976.
Audre Lorde exhorts us to be brave and bold: When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
A recent Washington Post article titled “A decade ago these girls weren’t allowed to play lacrosse, now they inspire a reservation” recounts how native girls are seizing the opportunity to be brave and bold.
Joryan Adams paced near the locker room and underneath the championship banners hanging inside Salmon River High, none of which represented her girls’ lacrosse team. At 14 years old, she was among the youngest of the 29 Mohawk girls about to play in a state playoff game, yet she carried herself with a veteran’s maturity. She wore a black undershirt to steel her from the winds howling along the U.S.-Canada border and examined her stick, the one her father shortened with a saw blade to fit her hands and she keeps beside her bed on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation every night. She stopped to listen to her coach’s pep talk.
“This is the most important part: You guys are starting to believe in yourselves, and you’re believing in everyone else,” said first-year coach Ron LaFrance, a former tribal chief who at one time didn’t believe girls in his tribe should be able to play the sport. “We’re more than just a bunch of girls from the rez …” LaFrance told them, and a few minutes later, the girls lifted their sticks for a chant before making the long walk to the field.
The Salmon River girls’ lacrosse team, in just its eighth year of existence, represents another breakthrough for women on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, where lacrosse has deep and sacred roots. The game was founded in this part of North America and has been treated by men for generations as a gift from the creator, a “medicine game” to lift their spirits. At one time, the Mohawks manufactured more than 90 percent of the world’s lacrosse sticks.
But women have been discouraged from playing the sport for generations, too, and only about a decade ago were girls’ youth leagues introduced on the reservation. A varsity program at Salmon River, which is about 10 miles from the reservation, has been budding ever since, empowering girls at a time when indigenous women across the country are facing an epidemic of violence.
On the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, which is also known by its Mohawk name, Akwesasne, activists are scrambling to spread awareness of the issue, and lacrosse has played a key role in those efforts. The sport has helped redefine gender roles in many cases; more men are attending girls’ games and coaching teams of all levels, including at Salmon River. The game has not only been tied to a cultural resurgence for the Mohawk tribe but also has helped girls better understand their own power and identity amid the challenges and dangers they face.
Eighty-four percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women have endured physical, sexual or psychological violence in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice. One in three has been raped or suffered a rape attempt, twice the national average, according to the Justice Department. The National Crime Information Center in 2016 reported 5,217 missing indigenous women, with only 116 cases logged in the Justice Department’s missing persons database. The epidemic has been attributed to a number of factors, including institutional racism and misogyny, lack of resources for tribal law enforcement and jurisdictional issues on reservation lands.
“In a sense, it’s still a healing game,” said Joryan’s mother, Shelby Adams. “To make you stronger, empower yourself. It lifts them up and makes them stronger as a person. If you’re living in a house where awful things are happening … the game can make it better, because it’s an outlet.” www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/06/17/decade-ago-these-girls-werent-allowed-play-lacrosse-now-they-inspire-reservation/