Last In Line
Where is the outrage? Texas has just put a bounty on women’s heads, has just declared open season on women seeking an abortion, and other states are ready to follow. You don’t even need a hunting license. Anyone can catch one, or someone aiding her. Where is the outrage?
My husband and grandson were talking over breakfast this morning about how, in 2007, 15 years ago, 17 African American players were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. On Wednesday, despite a long wait, four more will be enshrined. I looked at them over breakfast, and asked how many women players were in the Baseball Hall of Fame. They looked surprised. Never mind outrage. Nobody had really noticed their absence.
In how many areas are the absence of women taken for granted? Try Constitutional Rights for one. We’re the only segment of the population….a majority segment, yet…who are not guaranteed equal rights under the Constitution.
We were the last to be granted suffrage, the last to be represented in Congress (the first African American members were voted in in 1870, the first woman in 1916), the last to be part of the executive branch of the US government, the last to be admitted into the military, and many more lasts.
Every time we’re about to gain a foothold (the suffrage movement, second wave feminism, the Me Too movement), the rights of another group take precedence (the civil rights movement, which did not include the civil rights of women, the LGBTQ movement, the BLM movement). Please don’t get me wrong; I have been, and continue to be, active in all of these movements, and have risked my safety and future in some. I just want to know why women always get put on the back burner in terms of movements, why our rights and safety are not as important as those of other groups.
I do have a theory (I always have a theory). I think it is because women are not ghettoized in the same way that other groups are, and therefore, don’t have the same opportunity to bond, and to organize against the mainstream culture. There isn’t a one of us who doesn’t, or hasn’t loved a man in our immediate lives; a father, a husband, a brother, a son. We don’t really see them as oppressors, and, indeed, many, maybe even most, are not. Or, at least, are not consciously.
But, oppression takes many forms. It can take the form of protection, eg.my husband pleading with me not to go out and confront some neighborhood troublemakers, because then he’ll have to come out and defend me. Guys, I’ve been confronting troublemakers all my life, with or without a male partner. I’ve lived in slums, and I’ve worked in prisons. Yet, I know that he was acting out of love and a genuine feeling that I might get hurt if he didn’t take care of me (and I might; so might he).
My sons, entreating me not to buy a house in a high crime neighborhood. Or, it can be financial; my first credit card, obtained during my early 20’s first marriage, could only be issued in my then husband’s name, even though I was earning more money than he was. Nonetheless, it is hard to form a movement against people that you love, are living with, and want to care for. It is easier to mobilize when your worlds are separate, and women’s are not separate from the world of men, unless men dictate that separation.
And, now, we are bounty. There is no penalty for a man who impregnates the woman seeking an abortion. No citizen can arrest him, not even the women herself. Even if he is legally prosecuted for incest or rape, she bears the burden of the pregnancy and an unwanted child.
Where, oh where, is the outrage? And, why, oh, why, are we always last in line?