I’ve been seeing more and more news reports that purport that there is a Republican war on Women. I don’t think the Republican Party has made attacking the rights of women an official plank of its political platform, but I do think the fundamentalist Christians who won office as Republicans are leading the party in that direction.
Christianity isn’t the only patriarchal religion that treats women as lesser beings. Orthodox Jewish Men in Israel won’t ride the bus with women and Muslim countries won’t let women drive (or do much else but have babies). But lately, Conservative Christians in the Republican Party have made a major push to impose as many restrictions on women’s choices as possible. Perhaps with gay marriage gaining wider support and whites shrinking majority, they feel this is their last chance to impose their religious views on the country and must make an all out assault while they still can.
That would explain the push for vaginal probes, abortion restrictions and the elimination of rape kits. It’s insulting to see the conservative politicians claim these draconian restraints are for the health of women. Here’s a good clue as to why that’s a lie and the laws are a bad idea. The person trying to push these laws through is almost always a white man. And for some reason, often a fat white man which makes you wonder if this isn’t some kind of high school fat kid revenge on all the cute girls who ignored him. The people loudly protesting outside the chamber are almost completely women of various ages, race, and religion.
The main fight here is about abortion. Okay, look. If you outlaw abortion, then there will be illegal abortions. They will happen no matter what. Rich women will pay to have them privately. Poor women will risk their lives. You can’t regulate people’s morals no matter how hard you tried. Remember prohibition? How well did that work out? I don’t think its murder, but if it is, then remember that there are two lives involved here, the child and the mother. Why is the child’s life in the womb more important than the mother’s? Why does a woman lose her rights the moment of conception? Now you begin to see why women see this as a war on them. And the anti-abortionists religious beliefs should not trump the rights of the woman choosing. Not if we truly believe in religious freedom and respect the separation of church and state.
The war on women is even worse in the church. Pat Robertson has implied that if a man cheats, it’s the woman’s fault for tempting him or not being submissive enough. There’s a church that encourages spanking wives to ensure they are submissive. They even go through various objects to judge their spankability (my word, not theirs). The list includes ping pong paddle, hairbrush, and an open palm. Am I the only one who sees the kinky sexual deviance behind this idea? I just imagine the husband coming home and the wife saying, “I’ve been a bad wife. I need to be punished to ensure my submissiveness. I thought we might try the ping pong paddle tonight.” Then the husband says, “Not tonight, honey. I got tennis elbow from the last time.”
But really, religion is missing a golden opportunity here. People are leaving religion because they feel the church is restrictive, hypocritical, judgmental, and boring. For years, the main supporters of religion have been women. Always have. Think of all the movies and TV sitcoms which include this scene: It’s Sunday morning and the father is yelling for the kids to get ready for church. As the kids dully shuffle to the minivan, the father glares at the mother lounging on the couch. The mother says she’s not going because she wants to stay home to watch a football game. Can you name one of those movies or sitcoms? No. Why? Because they don’t exist. Now switch the mother and father. I immediately think of the Simpsons episode where Homer stays home to watch the game and creates his own religion.
In my own experience at my parents’ synagogue, I have seen how women are saving that congregation. Men, like me, aren’t interested in learning torah readings beyond their bar mitzvahs. But once the shul opened the door for women to do torah readings and be more involved in the service, something they had been denied for generations, the women were all over it. They were starving for this. I was so proud to hear that the shul recently hired a woman rabbi. This from a synagogue that started out orthodox with a balcony for the women.
So let the women in. The real reason religions attack women is because they’re afraid of them. They’re afraid they might do things better. They might tell men what to do. Don’t they already do that? Didn’t you listen to your mother? Maybe you should. Maybe you should call her right now and tell her how much you love her.
Bottom line, religion. Stop picking on women. Stop being afraid of them. They’re nice people once you get to know them. Some of my best friends are women. I like women and I respect them and I think women are funny, but that’s an entirely different subject. I like women so much, I married one.