The war on women is heating up



Consider:
  • A Super Pac releases a new "game" that allows players to deliver a slap in the face to an image of Hillary Clinton
  • A 17-year-old Canadian girl hangs herself after pictures of her sexual assault were shared online
  • A 14-year-old girl in Britain commits suicide after being targeting by Internet trolls
  • Also, in Britain, Twitter lit up with hateful and misogynistic comments (including death and rape threats) after a proposal to add Jane Austen to English currency
  • Texas legislators Wendy Bradley is threatened with a $2.4 million bill for her filibuster of an abortion bill
These may seem like isolated incidents of male societal insensitivity, but they strike me as part of a larger trend. Women are increasingly finding themselves to be the targets of male abuse and intolerance. To cast my net more widely, the trend is even wider, aiming to roll back progress made in the treatment of women, minorities and homosexuals. The victimization has been picking up steam, or at least making the news.

I am very worried about the state of our society. Attitudes toward women seem to be regressing to their pre-feminism state. Partly, this has to be due to discomfort with the way things are going. The economy tanks, jobs are going overseas, pensions are shrinking and our government is in gridlock. Pressure groups are screaming about creeping socialism, sneaky immigrants and efforts to limit gun rights. Add to that the recent gains for gay marriage and the election of a black president, and it's inevitable that many will make the incorrect connection between laudable social progress (for formerly dispossessed groups) and the erosion of our values and capabilities. Better to roll back to the better times, the thinking goes, when white guys got all the breaks.

I have been watching the way feminism has been denigrated. I think it started with Rush Limbaugh and his attack on "feminazis." Probably everyone has met a woman who is unhappy with the unfair advantages that men have wielded for centuries, and is not shrill about it. Feminazi might well describe them. But the term came to be applied to any women who spoke up about anything at all. Women are supposed to be happy with their 81 cents to every male dollar. They should appreciate the rights that men have given them -- like the right to vote. All while continuing to be vilified in the legislatures, leered at, catcalled, stalked and raped. Whether or not you believe in a woman's right to choose, you should be upset at the paternalistic desires of mostly males legislatures and conservative churches to limit reproductive choice, close clinics, grant personhood to fetuses and insist on invasive (and rape-simulating) ultrasound tests. Women are becoming (again) mere vessels for the reproductive prerogatives of men.

Women who grew up in the post-Limbaugh feminazi era have been reluctant, understandably given the climate, to claim to be feminists. This, while training for work in corporations, the military and other traditionally male domains. But they may soon learn that the feminist label is not a badge of shame. When their body parts bring more attention than their business skills, when their leadership potential is stymied by antiquated, male-centered views and when their desire to bear children is used to restrict heir career opportunities, they may revive "feminist" as an honor.

Women, to be coequal to men in their dignity before God, must be accorded equal regard and equal protection. We cannot decry female restrictions under Sharia law and then attempt to erect Sharia-like barriers to a woman's God-given freedom and dignity at home. The fight over feminism has taken a few steps backward. I pray that today's young women will understand the stakes at pick up the banner dropped by their elder sisters.