Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

Forward: Other Winners in the U.S. 2012 Elections

So, you may have heard that Pres. Barack Obama (D) and VP Joe Biden (D) were re-elected to a 2nd term Tues. night, November 6th, 2012.  But you may have missed the many OTHER victories for social justice in the USA. There were also some losses, as Pres. Obama himself has emphasized, progress comes in fits and starts and zig-zags rather than a straightline.  This post is a summary of as many of the victories and losses as I can find so that we get some idea of the current “lay of the land” as we prepare for the next struggles.  I list these in no order of priority, just as I remember them and find links:

  1. Women’s Rights won big.  The new Congress in 2013 will have a record TWENTY (20) female U.S. Senators, up from 17 this time. On the one hand, this is pitiful. 1/5 of the U.S. Senate will be female when when women are 51% of the nation? When women have had the right to vote since 1920? Clearly, sexism is still alive and well in the USA.  BUT, it is improvement: Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) mentions that when he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) was just elected as the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right. (Before then, widows of deceased Senators were appointed to serve out the remainders of their husbands’ terms–something that still happens.) Only 39 women have EVER served in the U.S. Senate since the body was created in 1789! The new Senate in 2013 will have 16 Democratic women [Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and the newly elected Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), & Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)]and 4 Republican women [Susan Collins  (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) will be joined by Deb Fischer (R-NE), an ultra-conservative. Two other GOP women senators: Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), retired this year.]  All 8 of the men running for House and Senate who opposed abortion even in cases of rape were DEFEATED.  Women’s health, including the funding of Planned Parenthood, and coverage for contraception, were reaffirmed.  Most of the men who ran and won as Democrats were also strongly committed to women’s rights.  New Hampshire became the first state to have all female leaders: Electing Maggie Hassan as Governor (D-NH), and replacing two GOP men with Democratic women: Rep.-elect Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-01)–reclaiming a seat she lost in 2010–and Rep.-elect Anne McKlane Kuster (D-NH-02). NH already had 2 female Senators: Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), neither of whom were up for reelection this year. For the first time, every state legislative body had at least one female member.  After the 2010 mid-terms, Republicans launched a nationwide war on women’s rights, especially reproductive rights, with huge state legislative restrictions on abortion and attempts at restriction on contraception. However, equal pay for equal work, and other women’s rights were also under assault. The victories of Tues. did not completely reverse or end these assaults, but they did constitute a major rejection of this agenda. Women were key to the reelection of the president: with an 18% gender gap between the 2 candidates.
  2. LGBTQ Rights won several victories.  The reelection of Pres. Obama means that the GOP threat to reintroduce “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into the military was rejected.  In addition, marriage equality was legalized by ballot measure in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State, the first time marriage equality was implemented by popular vote. Further, Minnesota, though not yet affirming marriage equality, strongly defeated a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as “between one man and one woman,” again, the first time such a ballot measure in the U.S. was defeated at the ballot box rather than in the courts.  In Iowa, an attempt to unseat one of the state’s Supreme Court judges who had ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2009 was defeated.  In NY, Rep.-elect Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY-18) became the first openly gay man who is MARRIED with adopted children elected to Congress and the first openly gay Rep. from NY.  Likewise, Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will be the first openly lesbian U.S. Senator. The re-election of President Obama also was the first time an incumbent president (and VP!) endorsed marriage equality, wrote marriage equality into the party platform, and campaigned on marriage equality–and WON re-election! That and several legislative victories at the state level means that more progress for LGBTQ folk is surely on the way because of Tuesday’s elections:  Several more states will either enact marriage equality or civil union laws (usually an interim step toward full equality as voters see that the sky does not fall, but also that civil unions are still a form of 2nd class citizenship) between now and 2014. At the federal level, I expect a full court press to enact the Employee Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), preventing workplace discrimination against LGBTQ folk and either Congressional repeal or Supreme Court rejection of the ’90s-era “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which prevents same-sex married couples from receiving the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.  The next 4 years could even see the first U.S. Supreme Court Justice who is openly a member of the LGBTQ community.  Clearly, LGBTQ rights are on the march–a stunning turnaround from 2004, just 8 short years ago, when attacks on LGBTQ folk, and especially on marriage equality, was a winning strategy around the nation.
  3. Economic Justice. The gains here are more modest, but real. The reelection of Pres. Obama and an enlarged Democratic Senate means that Obamacare will be fully implemented, not repealed or watered down further, that GOP plans to voucherize Medicare, eliminate Medicaid, and privatize Social Security are off the table, as are deep cuts to social programs and education across the board.  Michigan voters repealed their state’s “emergency manager” law which had allowed for corporate dictators to usurp the elected government of any city that faced fiscal difficulties (like something out of the “Robocop” movies–set in Detroit!). Voters in CA rejected an attempt to end all union participation in the political process (while allowing corporations to continue unabated).  CA also voted to raise taxes on the rich and to a temporary sales tax increase, to fund education instead of facing more layoffs.  As well, CA achieved a Democratic 2/3 supermajority in both chambers of the legislature, enabling it to overcome the infamous Prop. 13 , enacted in 1978, which reduced property taxes to pre-1975 levels and then required 2/3 of each House of the legislature to raise them for any reason–leading to CA’s epic budget woes.  The new CA legislature will be able to forge a workable budget AND end Prop. 13 forever–a law which had allowed a tiny, tax-hating GOP minority, to rule the majority for decades.  In San Antonio, voters approved a tiny sales tax increase to fund quality Pre-K education.  Even in Texas, conventional wisdom to the contrary, Democrats CAN campaign and win on tax increases IF the public knows that they will fund worthwhile things.  Voters in a few cities around the country also approved small increases in the minimum wage.
  4. Civil Liberties.  Voters in FL killed an attempt to amend the state constitution to allow taxpayer support for religious institutions and activities (in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment).  They also blocked attempts to ban use of public funds for abortions and contraception and blocked an attempt to block implementation of Obamacare in the state.  They rejected legislature control over judges.  Voters in Colorado and Washington State legalized cannabis and in MA authorized medical cannabis.  Although it sets up potential conflict with federal law, it shows the end is in sight for the failed “war on drugs” and that a new, sane drug policy will emerge. Prohibition fails and regulation works.
  5. Diversity and inclusion.  With the election of Sen.-elect Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Hawai’i sends the first Buddhist to the U.S. Senate. And with the election of Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) to Hirono’s old House seat, Hawai’i also sends Congress its first Hindu member–who plans to be sworn in on the Bhagavad-Gita. They join 2 Muslim members of Congress.  Native Americans were key to the election of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in North Dakota.  Hispanic/Latino voters were a decisive factor in the reelection of Pres. Obama and several other races. Asian-Americans also made gains in representation. The days when old white men ruled everything are ending, something that fills many with fear. But those of us who have embraced inclusion and diversity since the Civil Rights movement welcome the coming rainbow society with open arms.

Losses on election day include: Cannabis legalization in Oregon and medical cannabis legalization in Arkansas.   Michigan voters failed to guarantee the right to collective bargaining in the state constitution, although that right is still part of MI law. CA tried and failed to abolish the death penalty by ballot measure–with only 48% of the public approving.  Death penalty abolition is making gains, but they are not uniform by any means.

There is clearly much work left to be done. But there is no denying that Tuesday night was a good night for social justice in the USA.

November 8, 2012 Posted by | civil rights, economic justice, GLBT issues, human rights, justice, labor, religious liberty, sexual orientation, U.S. politics, women | Leave a comment

The Case for Women’s Colleges

There’s a myth that women’s colleges are no longer necessary; that they are a relic of the past and have no place in today’s higher education.  One can easily see how the myth would spread.  Women’s colleges began in the U.S. (and, to a lesser extent, around the world) in the 19th C., at a time when the very idea of women’s education was controversial.  In most cultures throughout most of human history, women were denied education. By the end of the 19th C., less than 1% of women in the U.S. had any education beyond what we would today call “high school” (secondary school).  It was widely believed (even by medical doctors) that too much education would make women sterile or in other ways less female, less able to fulfill the roles of wife and mother that were nearly universally believed to be the primary roles that God and nature had assigned.

It was the cause of missions, in the United States and internationally, that allowed the opening for women’s education.  Most of the women’s colleges founded early in the 19th C. began as what were called “Female Seminaries.” Now, today, a seminary (at least in the United States) is a theological college or divinity school, sometimes freestanding and sometimes attached to a university. In the U.S. context, a modern seminary is a professional school (like a law school or medical school) that presupposes the prior completion of a baccalaureate degree at an accredited institution. It’s purpose is to educate priests, ministers, chaplains (civilian and military), and related ministers such as youth ministers, pastoral counselors, etc.  The “Female Seminaries” of the 19th C. did not presuppose a baccalaureate and they certainly did not expect the young women who matriculated there to become clergy.  They were to train women to share the gospel in strange cultural settings (often in ones where male missionaries would not be allowed to talk to women) and this involved educating them more than women had ever been educated previously.  Even the push for the first women physicians (or, at least, the first in centuries) was initially so they could become medical missionaries.

These “Female Seminaries” evolved into liberal arts colleges and some began to offer graduate degrees, too. As 19th C. “First Wave Feminism” gathered steam, some institutions of higher education (e.g. Oberlin College, Cornell University) were co-educational from their founding and others that were once all-male began to admit women, especially the state-supported land-grant universities, but most elite universities stayed all-male (at least at the undergraduate level) until the 1960s.  In the 1960s and 1970s, elite, formerly-all-male, institutions began the transformation into co-ed institutions. This led many women’s colleges to merge with their male, elite partners:  Radcliffe College (founded in 1879) merged with Harvard in 1977; Pembroke College (1891) merged with Brown University in 1971). When Princeton University decided to go co-ed in the late 1960s, it sought to merge with Sarah Lawrence College (1926), but talks broke down and Sarah Lawrence College remained independent, but went co-ed in 1968 with Princeton following in 1969. The same pattern played out between Yale and Vassar College (1861): Yale started negotiations in 1966, they broke down and both campuses independently went co-ed in 1969. (Across the pond, the same pattern also played out at Oxford and Cambridge: At first all the colleges of both universities were all-male and stayed that way for centuries. In the 19th C., women’s colleges were established first as “private halls” and then as full colleges of the universities. Then, in the mid-20th C., male-colleges began admitting women and, later, women’s colleges began admitting men. Today, there are no single-sex colleges remaining at Oxford and only 3 women’s colleges remaining at Cambridge (Murray Edwards College, Newnham College, and Lucy Cavendish College).

The co-educational movement put huge economic pressure on most women’s colleges. They were now competing with co-educational institutions for students.  Many closed and many others went co-ed.  In 1960, there were over 200 women’s colleges in the U.S.  There are now only about 60 as the same economic pressures continue:  In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ended the independent existence of Newcomb College and its remaining assetts were merged with nearby Tulane University.   Even many women’s colleges that have remained single-sex at the undergraduate level have had to admit men to graduate programs or weekend programs.

It is clear that economics could end women’s colleges in the near future, at least in the United States.  Which leads back to the question of whether or not women’s colleges have any distinctive mission in the 21st C.–any reason they should continue as single-sex institutions? After all, the context is very different now from the 19th C. which birthed the women’s college movement:  With only 3 remaining all-male liberal arts colleges in the U.S. (Wabash College in Indiana, Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, and Morehouse College–which also an HBCU or Historic Black College/University–in Georgia), and no remaining all-male research universities, practically all the doors are now open to women educationally that were once closed to them.  Further, women have walked through those doors.  In 1960 the majority of U.S. women were still not educated beyond high school.  Of those which did matriculate in college or university, about 50% dropped out when getting married (obtaining their “M R S degree” as the saying went). (They were also expected to drop out of the work force and give up their own careers–a pattern which continued until the early 1970s, when stagnating wages and rising prices made a middle class lifestyle on 1 salary increasingly rare and difficult.)  When many women, inspired by the second wave feminist movement to reclaim dreams not subordinated to their husbands’, went back to college/university in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it resulted in much marital discord and many divorces.  But today 55% of all college/university students are women–and the percentage is even higher in most graduate programs, business schools, seminaries/divinity schools, and even in many law schools and some medical schools.  Although the Equal Rights Amendment failed to be ratified, Title IX gave, if not yet equality, certainly much progress toward equality in women’s collegiate sports–offering parity in gymnasium locker rooms, equipment, scholarships and recruitment, etc.

So, is there a good rationale for the continued existence (and good health) of women’s colleges in the 21st C. U.S.?  Are there reasons that one would wish a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece or some other young woman in one’s life to at least consider a women’s college when deciding where to apply for admission?  Yes. Despite the enormous gains of women in the last 35 years, this is still a patriarchal, sexist society–and sexist assumptions and attitudes are still firmly interwoven into American higher education, although usually in more subtle forms than previously.  As recently as January of 2005, the economist Larry Summers, then the President of Harvard University, spoke at an academic conference and gave the opinion that the reason women are underrepresented in the STEM fields (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) was because of biological differences that mean that, according to Summers, most women are simply not good at math and science!

Most teachers and administrators are not so openly sexist (and, to be fair, some have said that this speech did not reflect Summers’ true record on promoting women’s equality), but in co-ed institutions, the expectations often remain sexist.  Women who graduate from women’s colleges are better prepared for life after college:  Women who graduate from women’s colleges are accepted into law schools, medical schools, and graduate programs at a higher rate than women in co-ed colleges. They go into the STEM fields and other male-dominated fields at higher rates than women who graduate from co-ed institutions.  In general, women at single-sex colleges are more engaged (academically and socially) than women at co-ed institutions.  Seniors at women’s colleges are more likely to be engaged in higher-order thinking activities than women seniors at co-ed institutions.  They see more female role models in both professors and fellow students. This makes a radical difference.   The results are seen in the alumnae produced by women’s colleges: Today, Harvard’s president is a woman, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, an alumna of a women’s college (Bryn Mawr College, class of 1964).  The U.S. has had 3 female Secretaries of State and two of them (Madeleine Albright and Hillary Rodham Clinton) went to a women’s college (in fact, the same one, Wellesley College–Albright, class of ’59, Clinton, class of ’69). Other leading women in politics are also women’s college graduates including House Minority Leader (and former Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi (Trinity College–now Trinity Washington University, class of ’62); Secretary of Health and Human Services (and former Governor of Kansas) Kathleen Sebelius (Trinity Washington University, class of ’70). 12 of the 77 women in the U.S. House of Representatives are alumnae of women’s colleges, as are 2 of the 17 women in the U.S. Senate.  Of the very few women to become U.S. astronauts, only 3 have been shuttle pilots and one of them, Pamela Melroy, is a Wellesley College alumna (’83).

The alumnae networks are often major resources for jobs, internships, interviews to graduate programs, etc., providing an alternative boost to the “old-boys’ networks” that still thrive in academica and the professions.  This adds to the success rate of women’s college alumnae after college.

And, now, women’s colleges are also continuing their original mission of providing education to women who would otherwise have no opportunities for education:  Recruiting international students, especially from areas of the world where the very idea of women’s education is still controversial. Also, some women’s colleges in the U.S. are sponsoring or partnering with women’s colleges in some of these same patriarchal places, especially Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Now, I am not saying that every woman should go to a woman’s college. Obviously, most will go to co-ed colleges and universities.  But bright, high-achieving, and ambitious young women should at least be exposed to such colleges. They should be part of the mix in the college search and application process. Because, until sex and gender equality is achieved globally, our world and our daughters need such institutions to thrive and continue to lead.

On a purely personal note, my oldest daughter is in the college search process and while she has definitely looked beyond women’s colleges, I am glad they have been part of the search process. Three women’s colleges will probably be among those to which she applies early in the Fall of 2012:  Bryn Mawr College (Lower Merion Township, PA), Agnes Scott College (Decatur, GA), and Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA).

If a young woman of high school age in your life might profit from exploring the women’s college option, introduce her to the website of The Women’s College Coalition.

May 5, 2012 Posted by | blog series, colleges/universities, education, women | Leave a comment

Women in the History of Science

Celebrating Women’s History Month with Top 10 Lists. The Science Channel provides this list of the top 10 women in the history of science.

  10. Maria Mitchell (1818-1889 Astronomer. Discovered “Miss Mitchell’s Comet,” plus first to detect that sunspots were a distinct astronomical phenomenon and not a type of cloud.  First woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, but still paid less than her male colleagues at Vassar College until she stood her ground. When not behind a telescope, this Quaker woman was campaigning against slavery and for women’s suffrage.

 

 

9. Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 370 C.E.-415 C.E.) Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Physicist.  Had her own students in a time when women were not exactly encouraged to become scientists.  A pagan in increasingly Christian Alexandria, Hypatia was killed by an angry mob stirred up by the preaching of Bishop Cyril of Alexandria against women who fail to know their “place.”  In the 19th C. she was often painted as the “Patroness of the Sciences.”

 

 

 8. Jane Goodall (1934-)  English primatologist.  A student of the famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey (1903-1972), Goodall has done more to increase our knowledge of the life and habits of chimpanzees than anyone else. She has also been a leading voice for the ethical treatment of animals, especially primates. She has worked to stop hunting and poaching chimps for “bushmeat,” turning their hands and feet into ashtrays, encroaching on their habitats, use in laboratories for animal testing, etc.

 

 7. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910 Pioneering physician in U.S. and U.K.  We all know that getting into medical school is really tough, but Blackwell’s many rejection letters were not from poor grades or test scores, but solely because of her sex.  ).  But Blackwell had known opposition her entire life. Born in London to a family of dissenters (i.e., they rejected the established Church of England), the Blackwell children were denied public education and had to pay for private schools. They moved to America where they became strong abolitionists, but the girls in the family still faced obstacles in seeking higher education. Blackwell was finally accepted into the medical school of Geneva College (Geneva, NY Despite serving as a field doctor for Union forces during the Civil War, Blackwell still was rejected by hospitals. Eventually, she founded her own teaching hospital and medical college for women in London.  Blackwell campaigned in two countries for women’s education, especially in medicine and for the acceptance of women in the medical field. Her autobiography continued that campaign.

 

 6. Ada Byron (Countess Lovelace) (1815-1852). .British mathematician, analyst, and pioneer for what became computer programming. Proposed a “calculating engine” and demonstrated its potential.  Yes, the first “computer programmer” was a woman, techno-geeks.

 

 

 5. Barbara McClintock (1902-1992) . Pioneering U.S. geneticist.  McClintock’s work with genes in maize (corn) in the 1940s was so far ahead of its time that it was dismissed by the scientific community for decades–but in 1983 they finally gave her the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.  The daughter of a physician, McClintock earned a Ph.D. in Botony from Cornell University in 1927.  She was the first to discover that genetic material is not always fixed, but can “jump” or be transposed quickly to another part of the chromosome. Today, this is basic to understanding why bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and why evolution, usually so slow, can also have leaps forward.  But the scientific community was initially very resistant to McClintock’s findings. She just kept working and publishing her findings until others finally started reproducing her experiments and discovered that she was right all along.  At the time of her death, some of her ideas were still very controversial, but many were confirmed by the Human Genome Project’s mapping of the human genome in the 1990s. Had she lived to be 100, she might have received a second Nobel, this one for her insights into the working of the genome.

 

 4. Rachel Carson (1907-1964). American biologist, writer, and pioneer in ecology.  Studying the effects of pesticides such as DDT, Carson discovered that these chemicals were not only killing the insects they were used to control, but also other wildlife, especially fish and birds. Her wake-up call, Silent Spring, was so titled because she feared a spring without birdcall. Her early death from breast cancer meant that she never saw the environmental movement that her book helped to spawn.

 

 3. Lise Meitner (1878-1968).  Austrian  physicist and pioneer in nuclear fission.  Earning her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Vienna in 1907, Meitner took a position with the University of Berlin in order to work with the chemist, Otto Hahn, who was also pioneering work in nuclear physics. Together, they discovered in 1939 that splitting the atom had the potential to create an enormous explosion.  Meitner named the process, “nuclear fission” and, together with her nephew, Otto Fisch, published the explanation. Meitner was Jewish and had to flee Hitler’s Germany for Sweden (she later retired to Cambridge, England) Meitner’s published work led several atomic scientists to recruit Albert Einstein into warning Pres. Roosevelt of the potential threat this implied–thus leading to the Manhattan Project. Meitner continued to correspond with Hahn and publish work on nuclear fission.  Hahn was later awarded the Nobel Prize (Physics, 1944) for his work in nuclear fission and Meitner’s role was completely overlooked and the Nobel committee never acknowledged this sexist error. In 1964, Meitner was jointly awarded the Enrico Fermi prize in nuclear physics together with Hahn and Fritz Strassmann.

 

2. Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958).  British biologist and geneticist.  It was Franklin who took the careful x-rays that allowed Watson and Crick to discover the double-helix structure of DNA.  She also found that RNA was a single helix and where it was located. Her early death from ovarian cancer probably cost her a share of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry that was jointly awarded to Watson and Crick.  Then again, as we saw with Meitner, sexism might have cost her any recognition, anyway.

 

1. Marie Curie (1867-1934).   Polish chemist and physicist. Curie studied at the Sorbonne and settled in Paris. She made the study of radiation her life and eventually died of radiation poisoning. 78 years after her death, her personal papers are still so radioactive that they must be handled by special gloves while wearing protective clothing.  In 1903, she won a share of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and in 1911, she won (unshared) the Nobel Prize in Physics. She was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes–and remains the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in scientific fields.

Most people probably know Curie, Carson, and Goodall, but, sadly, the others in this list are mostly unknown. Tell your daughters.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | biographies, women | Leave a comment

Persons of Interest

Old bumpersticker, Feminism is the radical belief that women are people. 

I always liked that bumpersticker, but I thought that, like all good satire, it was hyperbole.  Until the events of the last few weeks, I didn’t think that “women are people” was a very controversial idea.  But apparently I was wrong.

I am a what feminists call a “woman-identified man.” I am a male feminist. (I am also a recovering sexist, like every other male. My wife and daughters will tell you that I am a work in progress. But I do work at it.) I grew up in a family of strong women. My late mother very mildly identified with the Second Wave feminist movement of the late ’60s and ’70s. I say “mildly” because, while earlier in her life she had been a bit player in the Civil Rights movement, Mom never marched with NOW, much less burned any bras. But she voted for the Equal Rights Amendment and refused to vote for any politicians who were against it. As a divorcee with 4 kids (she later remarried my wonderful adopted father, Lynsey White), she worked 2 jobs and had to put up with tons of crap.  She raised my sisters to be strong, independent, women. She must have influenced me to rise above the sexism of my context, too, because for 21 years, now, I have been married to an ordained Baptist minister and the oldest of our 2 daughters is named after the feminist theologian who introduced us. Our family belongs to a church with a woman pastor (not my wife) and a diaconate body with more women than men in it.  My daughters have grown up in a context in which the equality of the sexes was assumed. My biggest worry, sometimes, was that they wouldn’t realize the obstacles they would still have to face. Well, I no longer have THAT worry.

What’s next? An attempt to repeal women’s voting rights? Adopting the Saudi laws that prevent women from driving? Going back to the days when women couldn’t own property in their own names–or lost control of that property if they married? Will these “sex-is-only-for-procreation” types ban marriage between post-menopausal couples? Will these “fear-the-female-orgasm” types decide to bring Female Genital Mutilation (clitorectomies) to the U.S.?  Just how far will they go?

This is a war on women and women’s health–and a denial of women’s personhood. It denies moral agency to women–men have to make their reproductive and health choices for them.  Well, not this man. I stand with my late mother, my wife, my sisters, my pastor, my daughters.  They are not “sluts,” Rush.  They are not “bitches,” Newt.  They are not “witches.” They are strong, free women. And when they march on your little minds, I will be right there beside them.

March 4, 2012 Posted by | civil rights, feminism, human rights, women | Leave a comment