Way back in the beginning days of this nation, women were not allowed to own property, nor were they allowed to vote. Women were basically considered, as were African-Americans, to be chattel, possessions. Gradually … and I do mean gradually, ever so s-l-o-w-l-y … women gained a few human rights, such as the right to own property (1848-1895) and the right to vote (1920 – 19th Amendment). It would be 1963 before it was decided that women should receive equal pay for performing the same job duties as men.
Women’s rights has been every bit as much a struggle as were civil rights for African-Americans, albeit not as violent. By the end of the 20th century, most would tell you that women were now fully equal in the eyes of the law to men, that the barriers for women’s equality had been removed. Remember back in the 1970s, the advertisements for Virginia Slims cigarettes, whose slogan was “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!”? But in this, the year 2018, I would argue that we’ve still got a long way to go. Two issues prove my point.
The first, is whether a woman has sovereign rights over her own body, and anyone but a fool knows the answer to that is that ‘no’. There is a push today, mainly by the Republican Party on behalf of the evangelical Christians, to deny women access to both birth control and abortion. Strange, don’t you think, that there is no hue and cry about men obtaining drugs such as Viagra, but women and birth control is a different matter.
In 1973, the issue of abortion was settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Roe v Wade, and it was ruled that a woman has the right to seek an abortion if she so chooses. But the ruling has been the subject of much criticism by Christian churches, and in 2016, when Donald Trump was campaigning for the office of president, he appealed to the evangelicals by promising to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v Wade.
Furthermore, access to birth control has been challenged and although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that employer-sponsored health insurance must provide coverage for birth control, again the Christian groups stepped in and the courts have ruled against women’s rights. Newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is partly to thank for that one.
There is much, much more I could say about these assaults on women’s rights, but I want to move on to my second point, which is the one prevalent in today’s news, and that is the right of women to be respected, to be taken seriously, to not be turned into a sex object and the brunt of male perversity.
The subject, of course, is Dr. Christine Blasely, the woman who came forth to tell of the time, some 30+ years ago, that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a party. I won’t re-hash the details, for you’ve heard various versions likely hundreds of times in the past week unless you’ve been in a coma. But my point is the abysmal treatment Dr. Blasely has been afforded ever since she came forward. She has been called a ‘liar’, it has been suggested that she made up the story at the behest of the Democratic party, and she has received death threats.
Donald Trump and the members of our not-so-illustrious congress have cast aspersion on this woman and attempted every trick in the book to browbeat and bully her. And in so doing, they have set women’s equality back decades. Rather than jump to claim she is lying, why didn’t those in charge of the confirmation hearings order an investigation to bring the event into the open, to put to rest any doubts? Why? Because they know. Somewhere deep down, they know that she is not lying. They know that their esteemed Brett Kavanaugh is guilty as charged. They know that this will likely, if taken seriously, be the nail in the coffin of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. And they know the price they will pay from the ‘man’ in the Oval Office if they fail to complete their mission of confirming Kavanaugh quickly before the democrats find their voice in November.
- Senator Scott Newman: “Even if true, teenagers! Frankly, I don’t believe her.”
- Kavanaugh spokesperson/activist Josh Marshall says it’s not clear that the incident was attempted rape as opposed to just “rough horseplay”.
Remember in 2016 when the Access Hollywood tape came out with Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about his treatment of women? His defenders, despite evidence that he was indeed guilty of multiple cases of sexual abuse, brushed it off as only “locker room talk”.
Tell me, folks … if the tables were turned … if a female nominee were accused by a man of having groped him, attempted to disrobe him, and clapped her hand over his mouth in order to keep him from calling for help, would the senators be so glib? I think not. I think they would pretend to be horrified and decide early on that she was not qualified to sit on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court. But, the ‘good ol’ boys’ network is alive and well, and instead of horror, there is a wink-wink, a knowing smile, and ultimately a confirmation of a man with too little integrity.
But understand, please, that Dr. Blasely is not the first, nor will she be the last woman to be treated in such a manner. Women throughout the ages have been disbelieved or expected to accept sexual abuse as their due. Sure, we’ve “come a long way, baby”, but make no mistake … women do not have equal rights in 21st century America, and I despair that we ever will.
** Here are links to two excellent timelines of the history of women’s rights, in case you’re interested: