In a sad reality check, we were launched into Women’s History Month this week with a political debate on contraceptives that turned just about as ugly as it could have gotten. As the name-calling flew it was almost refreshing to have some blatant evidence that the War on Women is far, far from over.
And it’s a theme we’ve seen before, isn’t it? Religious freedom versus women’s rights. Especially in the last three years the hijab has been wrought with debate over whether it represents oppression or expression. I can’t remember name-calling, but this debate too has certainly seen is ugly moments.
Why do debates come down so frequently between religious freedom and women’s rights? This week, both sides did their best to cover up the other type of freedom at issue. Women’s rights advocates asserted that this debate was only about an attack on women, and religious advocates asserted that the Blunt amendment was about anything but women’s rights. But there’s no denying both were at issue.
Religion is historical, it is based on tradition, and as such it is kind of portal to the past. Which is nice. When you walk in to a place of worship the world feels simpler- you’re focused on traditional ideas and tenants that have been around for thousands of years. An unfortunate result of this, however, is it brings along relics like not always being so welcoming to the idea of the personhood of the woman.
As societal values alter religion does change too, some religions faster than other. But it is hella slow. And sticky. Personally, I’m pro-contraceptives and pro-hijab. So in the mean time, is it possible to have the women’s rights vs. religious freedom debate and remain decent?
The brave souls (especially Sandra Fluke) who stuck up for women’s rights this week were called sluts, prostitutes, whores, and Obama, was labeled a dictator. I’m surprised (and ok, disappointed) there weren’t more people responding by questioning the sexual/contraceptive practices of the Blunt Amendment supporters and name callers. (I’m just putting a guess out there that one of Rush Limbaugh’s four wives has also used contraceptives.) But really, cheap insults don’t get either side anywhere fast.
It would be great if this month was about acknowledging the history of women’s rights advances. But recent events, especially this week, just make it more apparent that the War on Women is alive and well. Thus, maybe this month should be used to acknowledge the current problems in women’s rights and discussing how we can make them history.