Nel's New Day

February 13, 2012

GOP Determined to Move Women Back a Century

During the past half century, the United States has been involved in a number of wars. First there was the War on Poverty. We lost that one. Then there was the War on Drugs. That seems to be in flux. Bush declared War on Terrorism and simply increased the problem. Conservatives accuse President Obama of a “war on religion” and “class warfare.” The war I’m watching right now is a subset of the culture war, the war on women.

For the past few days, the media has been filled with the “war on birth control” and the customary “war on abortion” as conservatives work diligently to control women’s personal behavior. The “war on women” is clearly exemplified by a Dallas (TX) school district that separated fifth-grade boys and girls: boys went to see the exciting movie Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airmen, black pilots trained in segregation during World War II by white officers. Meanwhile the girls stayed at school to see Akeelah and the Bee, the story of an 11-year-old girl competing in a national spelling bee.

There’s a huge irony in this segregation because the “boys’ movie” is about segregation, about blacks separated from the whites when they flew during the war. World War II was also a time of sex discrimination. One of the airmen depicted in the movie, 94-year-old Herbert Carter, told about his wife of almost 70 years, Mildred Carter, who was barred by the military but flew privately for decades. “My wife would turn flip-flops. She thought that all human beings were equal, regardless of sex, race, creed or color. She would take great offense to young women being denied this [opportunity.]”

School district spokesman Jon Dahlander said that the theater couldn’t hold all the students and that they thought that boys would enjoy the movie more than girls. The $57,000 cost of buses and movie tickets for the 5,700 boys came from federal Title I money, designed to educate low-income students, because of huge cuts to education by the state of Texas. Use of federal funding in sex discrimination violated Title IX, a law passed over 40 years ago, that prevents federal funding from going to schools that practice gender-based discrimination.

That case is in only one school district. Rick Santorum’s belief in sexual discrimination is on a much larger scale. This man who wants to represent the entire United States opposes birth control for all women because, in his mind, it leads to immorality. Women shouldn’t be allowed to be the president of the United States, according to one of Santorum’s staffers. Earlier this year, Jamie Johnson, the Iowa coalitions director Jamie Johnson, sent Santorum an email explaining that a female president would harm children’s lives. “The question then comes, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will, … to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?’ ” Johnson’s email said. Johnson is still a staff member.

Santorum’s demonstration of sex discrimination is furthered by his belief that military women should not serve in combat situations. The Pentagon announced last week that it would allow women service members to be permanently assigned to a battalion “as radio operators, medics, tank mechanics and other critical jobs” in an easing of the prohibition of women in combat situations.

The Pentagon had explained that it is formalizing situations that already exist because women have “temporary” assignments, not only to these areas but also to infantry foot patrols where they have engaged in direct combat. The women who are exposed to combat on these temporary assignments are prevented from receiving the same promotions as men get. Three-quarters of Americans believe that women should be allowed to engage in direct combat, and even 62 percent of the Republicans agree with this. U.S. partners in the battlefield–including Canada, Israel, France, and Germany—have women serving in combat roles.

Santorum is concerned that “emotions” would weaken the mission: “I do have concerns about women in frontline combat. I think that can be a very compromising situation where — where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. And I think that’s probably — you know, it already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat. But it’s — but it’s — I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat. And I think that’s probably not in the best interests of men, women or the mission.” [Following Santorum’s speech patterns is like wandering in a maze.]

Later Santorum backpedalled, as he does with all his stupid comments, and said that he just meant that men were naturally protective, resulting in problems during combat. But with all concern about protective men around, Santorum may believe that women should not vote, inherit or own property, have custody of their children after a divorce, gain higher education, hold professional jobs, keep any of their own salary, etc.

Right now Rick Santorum is leading in the national polls of the Republican voters. Even if he doesn’t become the nominee, however, all the Republican presidential candidates seem determined to set this nation back at least a century.

1 Comment »

  1. As much as I dislike the idea of wasting women’s lives on men’s power struggles, I thank you for confirming that we must have the right to make this decision too about our bodies and and our lives.


    Comment by lynchly — February 13, 2012 @ 8:17 PM | Reply

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