I have been meaning to write here about something insidious creeping stealthily into our lives. I am referring to the rash of recent stories about the marginalization of women, and what is more troubling, the marginalization of these stories in the media.
For instance, did you hear the one about a Georgia lawmaker proposing that rape victims no longer be termed “victims.” Instead, these women would be referred to as “accusers,” until the perpetrator was proven guilty. Subtle, eh? I heard that one on my evening commute on NPR and nearly had to pull over from the outrage searing through my body. Now, if this was proposed for all victims of crime that would be one thing (a murder accuser? sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?), but the fact that it was focused only on rape victims…well, that made me see RED.
And evidently, this effort was being pushed because increasingly restrictive state abortion laws (are you following Ohio?) are not getting the support hoped for. The latest here is the proposed federal legislation to mandate women whose insurance covers abortion to report this on their income tax filing to the IRS. What? Whether one is pro choice or not, this is a completely inappropriate and sexist use of the IRS.
And today, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores, the sex discrimination class-action suit. For the past nine years, Wal-Mart has been arguing that Betty Dukes’ case should not be expanded to a class action on behalf of more than one million present and past female employees. And no wonder: it could be worth billions if Wal-Mart loses – and with their disturbing labor practices, they have every reason to be concerned. But will the Supreme Court actually deny the class action suit for women? This case is being heard TODAY: the single largest class action suit in the history of this country. Seems important we take notice.
No matter how we feel individually about these events – that they are fringe elements, that they aren’t our business, that we don’t have the time – it is important for American women not to take our freedoms and our rights as individuals for granted. Look out into the world and see plainly that these rights are indeed precious, precious because so many women do not enjoy them. Let us pay attention to what is going on, let us join together and support efforts to maintain and expand the rights of women, let us demand coverage of these issues. And let us not forget our own history or those who aspire to the freedoms we take for granted.