Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I can't say I'm thrilled with the direction we're heading in as a country (understatement of the century), but I do find it heartening that, perhaps because of the absurd way women have and continue to be treated by the socio-political matrix and media institutions, more and more women and men are crying "foul."

The Good: Ashley Judd's incredible missive indicting gender inequality and unrealistic media scrutiny. It's amazing; you should go read it. Here's a quote to convince you:
Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.
[On a side note, this article reminded me that I've been meaning to watch Judd's new show Missing, particularly because I'm very interested in (and working toward writing an article about) the framing of the mother as the ideal woman warrior in contemporary culture--i.e. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the Kill Bill films, etc.]

The Bad: It seems to be Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's deepest desire to see the status of women regress back to the 1950s, if his sneaky, Friday afternoon, pre-Easter passing of several anti-woman bills is anything to go by. From the Ms. blog:
For nearly a year, half of Wisconsin has been up in arms over Walker’s repeal of union rights, which the state Supreme Court upheld last June. Gov. Walker may have sealed his claim to infamy, however, when he sneakily passed 51 laws last Thursday, four of which target women. He waited until Friday, hours before the Easter weekend began, to make his public announcement—a way to sidestep the inevitable outcry.

Three of the bills curbed women’s reproductive rights: two heavy-handed abortion restrictions and a law mandating abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in lieu of comprehensive sex education.

The law causing the real uproar, however, might just be the most surprising blow to women dealt by any state government in 2012. Gov. Walker turned back the clock on gender equality in the workforce by repealing Wisconsin’s 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act (EPEA), which permitted victims of wage discrimination to take their cases to state circuit courts. The law not only protected women from pay discrimination, but also from sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Ugly: As if all that's not bad enough, both Arizona and Georgia recently passed 20-week abortion bans, the Georgia one specifically insisting abortions after 20 weeks be made illegal in all cases except "medically futile" pregnancies (where there is no chance that the fetus will survive the pregnancy or be able to live once born); no exceptions are to be made that relate to the mother's mental or emotional state and abortions performed because of medical futility must be performed in such a way as to avoid "fetal pain"--so the fetus is removed alive and dies "naturally." Yes, really. However, the real kicker is that in the original bill there was no such medical futility exemption; state representative Terry England went so far as to compare women to livestock, suggesting that mothers, like cows and pigs, should have to carry their offspring to term, dead or alive.

Yeah. I don't even know.

Let's focus on the good today, shall we?

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