Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Time For A National Movement To Demand Full Civil rights For Women Is Yesterday, Not Some Vague Time Down The Road.


I hear the constant refrain:  women must get out and support Obama, or some other politician.  But I never hear anyone demanding that Obama, politicians, or any other group get out and support women.  Instead, despite the ongoing assault against women in every area of life, I hear the same tired old excuse:  women need to wait.  There are more important things.  We must end the wars, create jobs.  I'm tired of waiting.  The time for a national movement to demand full civil rights for women is yesterday, not some vague time down the road. 

People need to stop telling me who I need to support, and start telling me what they have committed to doing to protect and defend women.  It's not a one-way street.  It's useless blather which accomplishes nothing except getting millionaires elected to office.

We lack the discipline and honesty to sit down at a table and reach a negotiated agreement. Instead, it is simply assumed that one group, such as women, can be called upon to support politicians in an election. Who is supporting us? Where are the people committed to helping women? You can't say that the right politicians will take care of the problem, because they haven't and we don't have enough time to wait anymore.

Women still receive radically less in pay every paycheck for their entire lives. They are routinely battered at home, sometimes murdered by husbands and boyfriends, raped by both and by strangers, and demeaned, trivialized and ridiculed in public.  That needs to change by direct action and civil disobedience, picketing, boycotts of businesses, picking them off one by one, until they raise women's incomes to the same level as men.

There has been a decades-long commitment by the federal and state governments to try to end smoking, educate the public about how many people die, how bad it is for their health, encourage people to get support to end that terrible addiction.  Why don't we have a similar commitment to ending violence against women including the "bitch and ho" popularity among young people as well as the crotch-shots and boob-shots which saturate popular media and diminish all women down to the level of body parts for porno sites. 

For the most part, women are either ridiculed, sexualized or ignored. It's like an embarrassing issue. If you raise any issue about women, it's always the same answer: there are more important issues right now. We need to end the wars, we need jobs, we need to win the election. But women do not deserve to be constantly shuffled aside and told that they are not important. We are important, and the time for full equality for women is right now.  When do women get support from other members of our society?  When are our needs put to the front?  Everybody expects women to support their group, but nobody shows up for us.

You see this lack of negotiation and coalition commitment with the whole gay marriage issue. Gay groups are up in arms because some black ministers are against gay marriage. Yet I don't recall ever seeing organized gay groups out in the streets working with black groups demanding basic civil rights for black Americans including jobs, education, housing, and a commitment to make sure all Americans have a decent opportunity at life.

The Republicans and their supporters have much in common. They are wealthy, white, and often racist. They share the fundamental views of the Republican party: cut their taxes, hate everyone, and beat down most of the rest of us. Their supporters show up because the Koch brothers give them money. For the rest of them, they are so enraged by fear of everything, hatred of non-whites and immigrants and of women with a brain, that they carry guns with them everywhere, just hoping they get the chance to shoot us. That is what unifies them.

We need to stop acting like children waiting for a superhero, and form a national coalition of groups representing the traditional democratic base.  We need to get together and enter into a coalition to support each other. Not support the politicians, but support each other.

If the members of one group are not personally supportive of an issue from another group, then they need to decide whether their personal views are so important that they will continue to watch our rights be destroyed and our democracy ended. Or, if they are sufficiently adult, they can put aside their differences and make a commitment to the coalition, make a commitment to support other people's rights.

For people who don't like abortion, don't have one, but don't use your views to force other women to bear unwanted pregnancies. For people who don't like gay marriage, don't marry a gay person, but don't kid yourself that this issue is more important than is the need for a coalition, national and local, and people who are disciplined enough to commit to support each of the groups. If there was a defense of abortion action scheduled in one city, I want to see the unions, the Hispanics, and the blacks out there supporting it. If they don't, then don't bother calling me about your own issues.

This is one of the key indicia of immaturity in American politics, that every group thinks their issue is important, and they do not grasp the need for large coalitions, negotiated agreements, and a commitment of people and time to support each other. Support each other, not support the politicians, not support the elections. That is what is lacking on our side. The maturity to negotiate and the integrity to then show up and honor the agreement.

Just think how different everything would be if we had women, blacks, hispanic, unions, teachers, seniors, children, the poor, all show up at an anti-war demonstration because they had made a commitment as part of a coalition; all show up to picket a school board that was planning to close a school; all show up to demand banks write down the principal of loans in their communities to avoid the further devastation of neighborhoods caused by foreclosed and abandoned homes.

Organize, establish a coalition for each of the groups, negotiate the terms, then live up to the commitment. There is no politician or political party that is going to help us, and none of us can do this alone.

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