Business Casual: Women And Their Issues
Sorry to break it to the boys’ club at the state Capitol, but there are a lot of women who are mad at you. Really mad.
You may not see them or even hear from them. They are likely too busy with the minutiae of their lives – tending to families, holding down jobs, volunteering in the community – to spend much time on the steps of the Capitol waving placards.
So it’s probably easy to convince yourself that the females who challenge you on your approach to women’s issues are just a disaffected few, a bunch of chronic malcontents disappointed in love who should be sent back to their covens.
But I’m here to suggest that you are wrong. This year you have underestimated your constituents and overplayed your hand.
Even women who might be inclined to agree with you on some crucial items are steamed. They may not be marching or initiating social media campaigns, but they are watching.
And they are wondering, as I am, why so many male politicians are so appallingly anti-female? Or why they are acting as though denigrating women is a perfectly acceptable political tactic.
Why did Rep. Doug McKillip (R-Athens), a lawyer, not a doctor, set himself up as a medical expert and ignore the testimony and evidence of those who have actually been to medical school and practiced medicine? McKillip, a Democrat until he switched parties in 2010, was the chief sponsor of HB 954, which imposes new limits on abortions. The bill passed in the final moments of the 2012 session.
The bill changes the legal deadline for abortions to 20 weeks instead of 26 weeks because McKillip and many of his colleagues are convinced – contrary to the best medical consensus – that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks.
Worse, the bill permits no exceptions in the case of rape or incest and allows no consideration for the mental status of the mother.
Thanks to the courage and compassion of some lawmakers – including some senators who crossed party lines – one of the most egregiously insensitive provisions of McKillip’s original bill was deleted; so abortions are allowed for medically futile pregnancies or those in which the fetus is not viable.
But who could forget the compassionate words of Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn), a co-sponsor of the bill who, on the floor of the house, compared women to farm animals? As in, farm animals that carry their young to term, even when the young are dead, and how beautiful England thinks that is.
There are others who express themselves less offensively, but still choose not to challenge a colleague who makes such degrading comments.
I am not trying to change anyone’s mind on the matter of abortion. I believe it should be a personal decision. I understand those who are uncomfortable with or opposed to abortion; but those positions don’t require uninformed bigotry disguised as righteousness. You can be opposed to abortion without degrading women.
All of this was playing out against the backdrop of a strong anti-women sentiment on the campaign trail and in Washington. While our Georgia guys were extolling the virtues of cows and pigs as women’s role models, Congress was debating whether or not to renew the Violence Against Women Act (usually accomplished easily, with bipartisan support) because some fear federal money might be spent on a lesbian or an illegal immigrant who was a victim of violence.
This anti-woman movement is as baffling as it is disturbing. Where have these men been? Do they live in a bubble where it’s always 1956 and the little woman can be kept in line with a mink stole and a Frigidaire? Surely they have women in their lives who are available to enlighten them.
There are a lot of wives and mothers and daughters who are watching the performances of misguided zealots masquerading as righteous lawmakers – and taking names.
Frankly, it isn’t that hard to find a conservative politician in Georgia. There are conservatives who can carry the banner without alienating and offending half of the registered voters in Georgia.
See you at the ballot box, guys.