Why We Can’t Ever Compromise Over Controlling Women’s Bodies

by SemDem –

To state the obvious:  with the GOP in power, it has been a very rough time for women.

A misogynistic, serial sexual predator won the White House. Hard-fought rights that all of us thought were settled decades ago are suddenly in peril.  Attacks on birth control, reproductive freedom, and women’s health care were just the beginning.  Trump even recently found time to revoke the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act, which means the return of those awful forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment. (Fox News rejoiced.)

The attack is on all fronts, from the president, from Congress, and now, a new Supreme Court Justice who said women are manipulators and wants to away their rights.  It gets worse at the state level.  Unchecked rightwing zealots in state legislatures—who openly admit believing that rape is God’s will and that women should regard their bodies as nothing more than hosts–have flooded the docket with bills regulating uteri.

Yet through the nonstop parade of the outrageous, there has been a bright silver lining: organized resistance.

What started as a few women who planned a “Women’s March” on Washington to protest Trump has spawned into the largest single grassroots movement in our nation’s history.  Record setting protests spanned the nation, with a deluge of money and volunteer hours to curb the rightwing attacks.  One of the fastest growing groups is the Indivisible Movement, which has estimated that 86 percent of members of Daily Action are women. They have logged thousands of calls to Congress demanding their rights not be stripped away.  But they aren’t just calling.

There has been an “outpouring of interest” by women to run for political office. Emily’s List has reported their training for women running for office has tripled in size and are having trouble keeping up. As sociology professor Joy Honea put it: “This is the first time that the marginalized position of women felt extremely personal.”

Women are the backbone to the resistance. 

This is the year they decided they will be marginalized no longer.

So WHY THE HELL would we turn our backs on these women?

The most disturbing thing to emerge from this week’s badly bungled Democratic “Unity Tour” staged by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and new DNC head Tom Perez was the fact that the only thing on which the two men seemed to easily agree was that reproductive rights are not necessarily fundamental to progressive politics.

This led to uproar and outrage among some precincts of the left, and eventually to mea culpas and “clarifications” from Sanders and Perez. But it is worth closely examining this fight over the importance of reproductive rights in the party because it is an argument that the Democrats seem to rehash over and over and over again.

This doesn’t make sense on several levels.  First of all, the overwhelming majority of Americans support abortion rights and funding of Planned Parenthood.  This notion that a DEMOCRATIC candidate should compromise on this principle in order to win an election is as stupid as trying to argue we should give in on voter suppression.

Secondly, the right of a woman to control her own body is never something to compromise over– ever. The rightwing is all about exerting control over women.  Bills on women’s reproductive organs, birth control, and even receiving accurate healthcare information should not ever be up for debate.  If you hate abortion, fine. Pass laws making it easier for a woman to have and then take care of her child.  Instead, the GOP does the opposite by literally taking away healthcare, food (SNAP, school lunches), and blocking legislation to make it unnecessarily hard for a working mother to raise a child—like refusing to allow a day off to take care of a sick kid.

There will always be Democrats who argue that we should just focus on economic issues.  What I say to them is that civil rights IS an economic issue.  It’s impossible to have economic independence if there is a group allowed to suppress you.  Furthermore, as Democrats from the 60s civil rights era learned, you can’t “win over” ignorant, hateful people.  That’s a fools errand, but you will piss off your base in the process.   One of the two major parties has to stand for civil rights and individual freedom, and it sure as hell isn’t going to be the GOP.

The GOP decided that they would be the party of demonizing minority groups.  The GOP decided that they would be the party that tries hard to normalize sexual assault and harassment.  The GOP decided they would be the party of the rich, white, angry, Christian male while marginalizing everyone else.  Fine.  Let them own that. Helping the GOP marginalize others is a guaranteed way to ensure our party stays marginalized.

When supporting candidates, we should stand with people who stand with our people.  Right now, our ranks area growing stronger every single day.  We are the party of inclusion, tolerance, and equality. We are also the party with the fire on our side.

I, for one, refuse to turn my back on those very people who are giving us the fuel.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos