As we learned last year during the presidential election, women are the hottest thing in American politics. We’re the Kobe Bryant of slam-dunk electoral victories; we’re so far ahead of the pack, we make Sebastian Vettel look like a bajaj driver. If we were a pop star we’d be Carly Rae Jepsen AND Robin Thicke (“Blur Me, Maybe!”)
Women defeated Mitt Romney – you’re welcome! – and in the process, we showed the Republican Party we weren’t going to put up with any more patronizing comments like Mitt’s “binders full of women” or total nonsense like US Senate candidate Todd Akin’s blather about “legitimate rape.”
We even had a “Vote with your Vagina” movement with its own theme song and a weird purple vagina icon to add to your Twitter avatar.
I didn’t put Miss V on my profile pic, but I did spend several weekends knocking on doors, asking people to vote for Obama. And I’m glad I did, because the Republicans definitely got the message LOUD AND CLEAR that they’d better stop saying stupid things about women.
So here’s what’s happening in our brave new feminist world:
A US Senator blames “hormones” and “nature” for rape in the military.
A US Congresswoman claims women don’t want a law requiring equal pay for women.
Mississippi’s governor blames working women for ruining the school system (presumably in our spare time, when we weren’t out happily working for less money than men).
A US Congressman decides Todd Akin was right.
So, wow! Apparently we haven’t made much progress after all.
I’m allowing myself to feel a sliver of hope, though. There are signs of change in the air.
Here’s one example: In recent months, growing numbers of people in the southern state of North Carolina have turned out for weekly “Moral Monday” rallies. These are protests against several laws passed by their far-right legislature and governor, including ones restricting women’s reproductive rights, cutting benefits to jobless people, slashing health budgets, allowing guns into schools and parks, and making it harder to vote.
The name is significant. Ever since the rise of the loathsome Moral Majority in the 1980s, Christianity and “morality” in American politics have been largely aligned with an anti-women, anti-gay agenda. For thirty years, right-wing preachers have told us the stairway to heaven is built from gay-marriage bans, school prayer, restrictions on abortion and birth control, a shrinking social safety net, and science textbooks that teach about God instead of evolution.
If Christians across the U.S. remember that Christ actually said to be NICE to each other, they might start attending protests against anti-women, anti-gay, anti-poor policies. That would embolden other people to attend protests, and pretty soon you’d have 10,000 people turning out to shout about injustice, instead of twelve aging hippies and a Labrador retriever.
And that’s how change begins to happen.
So, the U.S. isn’t a paradise of perfect equality yet. But perhaps things are moving in the right direction. It even seems possible that during my lifetime, a whole year will go by without a Congressperson saying something mind-blowingly stupid about women, our biology, or our desire for fair pay.
Now THAT would be progress.
About Trish Anderton
Trish writes stuff and posts stuff. When she's not writing or posting, she's tweeting. In a past life, she was an editor at various Indonesian publications including the Jakarta Globe, Jakarta Post, and High End Magazine. She lives in New York City.