Today Mississippi votes on, and if all indications are correct, may pass the so-called ‘personhood’ amendment, declaring that a fertilized egg is a person. Mississippi is just the latest canvas on which religious fanaticism is trumping science and a woman’s right to choose. Its just the most recent place where misinformation about human sexuality and reproduction are being used as tools to marginalize women to the point where they are mere baby vessels whose rights are up to popular vote.
I am watching my rights being dismantled by an institutionalized patriarchy buoyed by the religious right and political opportunists. I don’t live in Mississippi but what happens in state legislatures grows like a cancer across the United States — I am affected; every woman is.
Personhood (and all anti-choice efforts) emerge from politically entrenched religious zealots and political opportunists, quite often these operatives are men; men who generate a willing group of women followers to cast their efforts as somehow pro-woman. Men like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, Chris Slattery of Expectant Mother Care, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, and of course, Les Riley, the man behind Prop 26 in Mississippi.
Religious zealots form a symbiotic relationship with politicians to pass draconian legislation sacrificing the rights of women. The zealots get to walk away having successfully implemented a cog in their overall attempt to create a system of governing in the United States that is based on a Christian worldview and securely places men in the headship roll and subjugates women. The politicians in return get tons of fundraising cash and a committed group of one-issue voters that can propel them into office.
As Mississippi votes on a woman’s right to her own body, Herman Cain is promising to set the record straight regarding the numerous allegations of sexual harassment coming up from his past. While the Cain campaign tweets about Gloria Allred in a condescending male voice, the right wing media blames the victim, and the liberal media is busy determining whether Cain remains electable or not, we are all missing the point.
Our public discourse, by and large, discusses women and issues affecting women as if women themselves are removed from the equation. The result is that we are acting as though we are somehow having a high-level think-off on the rationality of a bill that establishes the contents of a woman’s body as not her own, and that the GOP front runner can run his hand up a woman’s leg and pull her head toward his crotch and make a killing in fundraising – and keep is position in the polls.
Instead of focusing on women taking a beating in this country, the discussion deteriorates into who said what, political polls, and Howard Stern’s producer commanding audience at various press conferences. Cain is, by some accounts, being accused by up to seven women of sexual harassment and now with the public statement of Sharon Bialek, possibly sexual assault. Instead of the Cain scandal being called what it is – a potential criminal situation and a case study in the abuse of male power – pundits busy themselves arguing whether or not, Cain will be able to weather this political storm.
Can he make it through to Iowa? As the anti-Romney are the Republicans willing to overlook Cain’s unfortunate sex business (my guess is yes)? The media needs to seize this moment to connect the dots. The Mississippi personhood amendment, the ultrasound bills, waiting period laws and the myriad others ravaging women’s rights across the country, and Herman Cain’s sex scandal fall under a neat umbrella: men seeking to encroach on the rights of women for personal and/or political gain.
Whether it is Herman Cain’s apparent need to quench his sexual desires by making unwanted advances on subordinates or Les Riley’s need to create a Christian utopia starting with egg citizenship – we need to talk about them as connected.