For a long time, society has held a mentality that “boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls.” Because of this, it’s considered okay to overlook sexism and inequality in cases where there is some gray area.
What society needs to understand is that there is no gray area when it comes to being in charge of your own body, and what that body is and is not comfortable with.
The media has declared a “War on Women,” but the war is, in fact, on everyone. It’s up to this great nation to make the decisions, especially with this upcoming election, that honor each citizen as a human being.
Earlier in the year, the news was dominated by the debate over whether or not birth control should be covered by health insurance. Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, brought to light the struggle many women encounter with not being able to pay for birth control when they need it, whether it is for medical challenges, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, or for use as a contraceptive.
Yet, when this woman gave her testimony, she was called a slut and told her parents should be ashamed of her. Rush Limbaugh, an angry conservative radio talk show host, gave the brunt of the insults directed at Fluke and her cause.
“So, Ms. Fluke, and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal, if we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” This was just one of the perverse comments made by Limbaugh, according to Linda Lowen from About.com.
These comments were rightly, though minimally, condemned by the Republican Party. However, the only real condemnation major leaders of the GOP, such as presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave was that Limbaugh was being moronic and was not using the right words.
The fact that Limbaugh’s comments wer beyond stupid is not what should offend or concern any empathetic person, which Limbaugh and many of his cronies have shown they are not.
What should have been attacked is the fact that he, on public radio, sexually harassed Sandra Fluke. He demeaned her by calling her a whore, using such derogatory language to show that he feels superior to her and that he has power over her.
He then went on to belittle her cause even more by referring to her and women who spoke up for their health as “feminazis.”
The worst of it is that he asked for her to videotape herself having sex for his viewing pleasure.
Any woman can tell you that if a complete stranger asked that of them, they would feel quite violated.
Yet, he got away with it. He was not penalized for blatantly sexually harassing a young woman on live radio, where all her family and friends could hear him humiliate her.
Some say this is a lone incident and that it is not the general mindset of the majority of people, but only a few weeks ago, another Republican, Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, said what many have just not been able to put into words.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare [becoming pregnant from rape], if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” said Akin, in an interview, cited by the New York Times on Aug. 19.
At first glance, this statement seems shocking and careless, to say the least. Many other Republicans denounced what Akin had said, saying that his statement was idiotic.
However, his words illuminate a very sick truth of what many people believe, and that is that some rape is not “legitimate,” and if a woman enjoyed the act physically it could not be rape.
Just because a woman’s body reacts physically to stimuli does not mean that her unwillingness for the act initially is therefore eradicated. If a woman says no, even hesitantly or if she is drunk and falling over while saying it, no means no, no matter what.
Based on what Akin said, any guy in the nation can be at a party with a girl, both drunk, both flirting, and take her into a bedroom and try to have sex with her. If she is hesitant, tries to push him away, says she does not think she is ready or that it’s not the right place, he can justify going for it because her body is physically reacting to everything he is pushing on her. Her pain in the morning will not be legitimate. A pregnancy that results from that act, according to Akin, will be because the mother would have enjoyed what was given to her.
Unfortunately, however, it is not just the absurdly conservative men who have adopted ridiculous ideas of how women should be treated, but women themselves are buying into it as well.
Women need to stop attacking each other. Calling a friend a slut or whore because she is wearing a low cut shirt will not help anything. A woman can and will provoke attention, but nothing warrants sexual harassment or abuse.
When women judge each other based on their appearance or how many people they have been with sexually, they are catering to stereotypes and allowing women to be demeaned based on what they decide to do with their body.
The so-called “War on Women” is raging in the public sphere. The only problem is the other side is winning. Yet, it is not just women who need to speak out for their female comrades, but the men need to step up and speak out in defense of women, and therefore in defense of basic human rights.