Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Do women deserve inclusion in "The American Dream"?

Most people, I think, would say "yes." But if you go by their actions, or inactions, and not their words, there's something else going on.

Yesterday, I ranted a bit:

The ERA has been defeated, and any attempts to revive it are attacked by the right and the left. Women's reproductive rights are being taken away state by state. A woman's sovereignty over her own body and right to make personal decisions regarding her own health, life and welfare are being attacked by the radical right. Women who serve in the military are raped, with the only official response to be that they (the women) face disciplinary sanction or unfavorable reports in their records. Women who stand up for themselves are called witches and worse. Women who are successful in business are attacked and lambasted in the press. Women who have children are punished in their careers by business that recognize little or no maternity leave -- that is if they even get hired -- and are attacked for staying at home to raise the kids and needing public aid, or attacked for working three jobs and essentially raising their kids in daycare. Women who are raped and press charges face the unique challenge of needing to provide evidence other than their testiomony to garner a conviction -- a requirement that does not exist for any other violent crime. One-third of the women in this country have been or will be sexually assaulted -- and the trends are continuing, so you men who scoff at this, consider that your daughters face the same likelihood. Women pay more for healthcare and more for dry cleaning, while making 72% of what men make. As a result, women receive Social Security benefits substantially less than men receive. Teenage girls are denied basic sexual education and are prevented (by law in many states) from obtaining any birth control without explicit parental consent. Women are ignored, ridiculed, sneered at -- or idolized and put on a pedestal to measure up to some objectified ideal fantasy created by men. And when women speak up about issues that concern women, men dismiss those very things as unimportant. Why? Because the men have determined that these issues are not important to them, and therefore are not important.

And so I ask again, not expecting any answer: Why is it again that women's equality is not a priority for the progressive political agenda?

On a progressive politics site, where I participate, I cross-posted something I blogged on Sunday:

Now we are in backlash. The radical right wants to enslave women, take power over our own medical decisions, take power over our own bodies, to make criminals of those of us who do not treat our bodies, owned by the state, according to the dictates of the men in power. They try to shame us over our own bodies. They try to keep young women ignorant of ways to take responsibility for their own lives, their own fertility. They say "boys will be boys" and women who have premarital sex are whores.

And yet the left seems to believe that women's rights are not threatened. They seem to believe that the ERA, which was rejected by opposition in mostly the old Confederacy (mostly slave states), has no relevance today. Some say that women's rights, though worthy, should be fought for and defended only after other rights are achieved.

Four weeks ago, Amanda wrote in her old blog about the importance of feminism to liberalism:

As far as I know, there's no female-centered version of the American Dream. In the American Dream, our hero Ward Cleaver is a Real Man because he has a job that pays for him to have a big house, a family and a most importantly, a wife who is financially dependent on him and under his direct control. This is how masculinity is defined for so many, many men in our country. The problem is that fulfilling that dream of having a woman sequestered away at home tending to you and your children is that it's out of the financial reach of the majority of men.

Of course, what this means is that we have a huge population of men in this country that both believe that in order to be Real Men they have to have a wife that is both at home and subservient, but out of financial necessity, they have wives who work. And it's hard to get subservience out of someone when you can't tell them, "Well, who makes the money around here?" There's a lot of resentment there.

There's been a lot of ink spilled as of late bemoaning the lack of direction and lack of goals for progressives. This sort of thing really perplexes those of us who concentrate on feminist progressivism--I have no problem whatsoever stating what my direction and goals are for feminism. Feminists want full legal equality for women, parity between the sexes in every aspect of public life, social relationships between men and women based on equality, the rights of children to be acknowledged and respected, the right of women to use every tool science has to offer to maintain control over our bodies, wage equity, social policies to help parents, and healthy social attitudes towards sexuality.

And so the women in this country, completely disenfranchised from the political right and the political left, find ourselves adrift, needing our own Doctor King. We need someone to speak to our own hearts. We need someone to help us, as a nation, see.

Well, one of the admins, slgalt, suggested making this question a priority in the progressive framing of American values.

However, since posting the new framing effort, the response on this site that gets over 2,000 hits a day (which is not bad for a raw site) has been underwhelming. This does not surprise me, after these kinds of comments and non-responses on DKos.

We need women to speak up to be included in the progressive agenda, because it's not just the mainstream media that is ignoring the crumbling state of women's equal protection under the law in this country, but progressive men as well. Please come and join the discussion. The link to the "Women and the American Dream" thread is here.

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