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No War On Women? I Disagree

| December 10, 2015

war on women delegal

It’s not over. (Daniel Mennerich)

By Julie Delegal

The publisher of my hometown newspaper has declared there’s no war on women.

Frank Denton’s recent column in The Florida Times-Union, “Political buzzwords we could do without,”  was edifying for the most part. He made good points about retiring phrases, most of them martial in nature, that polarize the electorate and trivialize the most horrible events in human history. The words “holocaust” and “slavery,” I agree, should not be uttered lightly or in vain.

I bristled at Denton’s sweeping declaration, though, that there’s no “war on women.” While I would not use the word “war,” I would point out that women are still fighting to secure equal pay for equal work. I would also point out that despite the gains made by leaders such as Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, corporate America and our elected bodies are still overwhelmingly and disproportionately male.

But these points don’t touch the core of my visceral irritation with Denton’s contention that there is no war on women. He wrote: “Looking at the other side of the ideological divide, there is no war on women, only differing viewpoints on a few issues that mostly affect women. The actual issues themselves, like birth control and abortion, are excellent subjects for civil discourse.”

I completely disagree that the most personal decisions in men and women’s lives – whether or when to have children – are “excellent subjects for civil discourse.” Rather, these are subjects to be discussed in the context of our most intimate relationships, ideally before any sexual intimacy occurs.

Further, to say that discussing birth control “mostly affect[s]” women is ludicrous. Last time I checked, no one needed a prescription to buy condoms, and no company was refusing to pay wages or benefits to men who bought them. The current debate about birth control completely affects women.

The debate reflects an ancient, unyielding, and ultimately impossible desire on the part of men to control a power that our creator entrusted to women: propagating the species. I’ll never forget a particular baptism that took place at our church years ago. When the infant’s father was asked by the priest, “Is this your child?” he hesitated for a fraction of a second before answering. The entire congregation broke out in uproarious laughter, acknowledging the age-old anxiety of men concerning their offspring – they ultimately have to take their female partners at their word.

context floridaThe archetypal story of Mary and the Archangel Gabriel illustrates the point: According to Christian teaching, When God wanted to bring his son into the world, he sent his angel to talk with Mary about it. The patriarchs who handed down the Bible through the ages perhaps slipped when they included Mary’s affirmative response, “Let it be.” It seems that Mary had a choice in the matter, and she might have just as well said, “Sorry, Gabe, I’m just not the one for this.” At the heart of the beginning of the Christian Gospel is a very personal discussion. God cared enough about Mary’s feelings on the matter to discuss it beforehand. Then he trusted her.

Perhaps if all men were to treat all women as God treated Mary, and if all women were to understand, as Mary did, the power of the gift with which they’ve been endowed, there would be no need for abortion.

But there’s another piece of the equation that men and women need to get right before we can stand as full, equal partners in the eyes of God. We feminists, in our zeal to level the playing field for women in the workplace, have unwittingly participated in devaluing work historically done by women, the work of caring.

Perhaps the feminists who value caring-work most are the ones whose spouses take on full-time care of their children. Or, perhaps it’s the ones who are tasked with finding the excellent childcare their children deserve. Or, maybe it’s the ones who make child-rearing their primary jobs, and who are tasked, in midlife, with the management of their parents’ care as well.

Revaluing, through our words and through our money, the intense and important work involved in caring for children, sick people, disabled people, and elderly people, is the next step for feminists. Only when that step is complete will the fear-based oppression of women come to an end.

Feminism’s progress is less a “war” than a civil rights struggle. And civil rights struggles always include an economic component, whether the dominant culture wants to acknowledge it or not. Historically unpaid or underpaid work remains, no less, infinitely valuable.

julie delegalJulie Delegal, a University of Florida alumna, is a contributor for Folio Weekly, Jacksonville’s alternative weekly, and writes for the family business, Delegal Law Offices. She lives in Jacksonville.

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13 Responses for “No War On Women? I Disagree”

  1. RP says:

    Good points to ponder for sure, but I must correct one thing. The Biblical narrative concerning Mary shows Mary acknowledging what was about to be done. She was told, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” (Luke 1:31). There was no choice in the matter. “And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38). Mary was exhibiting humility before the God of the universe.

    I do find the rest of the article thought provoking though.

  2. Outsider says:

    Can anyone cite one example of a woman being fired for purchasing birth control? I doubt it.

  3. Knightwatch says:

    RP, I think you just described rape.

  4. m&m says:

    I don’t agree with any of this. I believe “The Hand That Rocks The Craddle Rules The World.”

  5. Sherry says:

    Maybe women cannot YET be fired for taking birth cntrol, but the PUSH is definitely ON. . . take a read:

    Late last year, the city of Washington, D.C., passed the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA)—which protects women from being fired for health choices they make in their personal lives: including using birth control and in vitro fertilization. Late last week, the House of Representatives voted to pass a resolution called “H.J. Res 43: Disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014.”

    Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like: The new resolution, introduced by Republican Tennessee Rep. Diane Black, aims to make it legal for employers to fire women who use birth control or in vitro fertilization.

    Let’s not again get into the whole Hobby Lobby discrimination thing. . . you know, where Viagra is paid for by their insurance carrier. . . but not the “morning after” pill! Discrimination AGAINST the reproductive rights of women is getting stronger every moment!

  6. Percy's mother says:

    Speaking/writing as a professional woman, I would invite Ms. Delegal (or anyone else for that matter) to explain and give specific examples of “fear-based oppression of women”.

    By whom? How? Where? Specific examples, please.

    As a woman, I’m mystified by this article. I think Ms. Delegal has bought into the feminist narrative. I don’t hear feminists decrying what’s happening to women and girls in Syria at the moment. Now THAT is fear-based oppression. Why don’t feminists step up to the plate and say something about that issue?

    Birth control for women is freely available at any planned parenthood clinic (but that opens another can of worms). I think the story about women being fired for purchasing birth control is part of the feminist narrative. As we all know, if you tell a lie often enough, you start to believe it (in other words, feminists creating a false narrative). This issue has been bandied about in the media to the point that now everyone believes a woman can be fired for purchasing birth control.

    Again, this is woman (well-educated, well-travelled, legal immigrant, professional) writing from a woman’s perspective . . . one who hasn’t bought into the feminist perspective.

  7. says:

    Of course there is still a war on women. It exists in all aspects of life, from the corporate to the religious. What do you call politicians telling women they can’t make decisions about their bodies? Men passing laws specifically to restrict women from accessing health care? Tying to defund PP when only 3% of what they do are abortions and the other 97% is providing health care services to women?
    And as for Percy’s mother above who says she is “well-travelled”…well you can see women being victimised
    from Morocco to Venezuela. What about girl babies being abandoned to die in China because they are girls? What about women in India, raped and killed, their abusers seldom caught or punished? Young girls being circumcised and maimed for life in the Middle East?

  8. TBG says:

    Women have a propensity for complaint. It’s an unflattering and gender specific trait. It is also the reason behind the innumerable and tiresome Female Complaint Pieces that seem to be littering the pages of publications and blogs everywhere these days. Cheap filler for them I guess.

    And yes, men have their own unflattering, gender specific traits.

  9. Sherry says:

    Ahhhh. . . I see, women who have the temerity to believe they should not be treated like second class citizens, or “property” are considered to be gender specific “complainers”. . . especially since they are “adored” by reprehensible chauvinists like Trump. I suppose we should just stay at home, bare foot and forced to be pregnant. . . like in the good ole days.

    Really. . . how dare we become educated and speak out in public forum about something besides sports, politics, and T and A! “Stay home and keep to your sewing, child rearing and cookin’ girls. Don’t worry your pretty little heads or be bitching about your EQUAL RIGHTS”!!!

    1. To control your own body. . . “it isn’t yours. . . it’s your man’s”
    2. To have the same access to any birth control prescribed by your doctor as men have to Viagra. . . men and God control those things. . . “as you are property”.
    3. To equal pay for equal work. . . “you are not as strong as a man, and you are not the bread winner. . . so you don’t deserve equal pay”. . . “plus men are the bosses/CEOs/ owners” etc. etc.

    Yes. . . let’s do go back to the 1950’s when “all knowing” men controlled everything and women knew their places!!!!

    Not only is bigotry thriving in our community, but I guess condescending chauvinism is making a come back as well. . . what a world!!!

  10. YankeeExPat says:

    ‘Woman Is The Nigger Of The World’ by John Lennon

    It’s rude and abrasive term to use but, it makes its point.

  11. Outsider says:

    No Sherry, the push is not on. This is yet another example of a solution in search of a problem. How would someone ever prove they were fired for using birth control or in vitro??? This is ridiculous, and more likely an opportunity for lawyers to file more lawsuits and charge millions of dollars in fees.

  12. just me says:

    I don’t get the whole equating a woman using the pill to getting an abortion?? I don’t know of anyone who thinks ALL abortions even the most strident anti abortion people will conceit it to one or more of the following rape, incest or the life of the mother. I am for the choice in very early stages of pregnancy for it to be a personal choice for the woman. I also believe that that time line is moving further back in our nation as we learn more and more of how developed the person inside the mother to be is. What is needed is personal responsibility on the part of both parties involved to ensure as much as possible a unwanted pregnancy does not come about.

  13. Sherry says:

    Outsider. . . I “personally” worked in the recruitment and placement industry for over 20 years. I served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses and went to DC several times to speak to congressional leaders like Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer on behalf of that industry. I can most certainly testify from that “credible” experience that women were the object of massive “discrimination” in the employee and independent contractor selection process.

    My clients commonly and openly told me they did not want to hire newly married women of child bearing age because they did not want to deal with the costs of maternity. You know, like insurance and paid time off! They paid women less, when they were hired. They also said women were too emotional and sensitive and that they didn’t want to deal with issues like sexual harassment.

    Before you start saying things are vastly different since I closed my company 10 years ago and retired.. . . I am still in touch with women in the work place and the discrimination is still common. . . it’s just been driven underground. Here are some more obvious FACTS and ISSUES about discrimination against women:

    1. Women are still not receiving EQUAL PAY for EQUAL WORK
    2. The recent Hobby Lobby case is a great example of how employers discriminate against women by coming between women and their doctors and manipulating their insurance coverage.
    3. The PUSH to take women’s health care away from the underprivileged by cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood.

    Outsider. . . these inequities many not be important to you, but they most certainly are to millions of women across our nation. When you say the “push is not on”. . . please cite personal experience or credible analysis to the contrary. That is if you would like your “opinion” to be taken seriously.

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