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As a woman who was raped at gunpoint in my own home when I was in my twenties, and shot at while escaping from another would-be rapist a couple of years later, then endured an abusive relationship just to round out the nightmare, I could relate very well to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin), who stood up on the floor of the House of Representatives and recounted her personal experiences of child molestation and of being raped as an adult — a rape that resulted in pregnancy and her now 40-something-year-old son — as part of a Democratic message to the GOP regarding the Republican “war on women.” I suspect there are a good many American women who can also unfortunately identify with Rep. Moore.
Once upon a time, the Violence Against Women Act had bipartisan support, but as the Republican Party continues to devolve into rightwing extremism, Republicans like Rep. Bob Turner (R – NY) — a good pal of Rush Limbaugh, and instrumental in getting the conservative talk show host his own television program back when Turner was a television executive — voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act. What a surprise.
But lest we think it’s all the fault of rich fat white men, the GOP has lost no time in trotting out their angry mama grizzlies to support the backlash against women and minorities in general. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) the only woman in the GOP leadership, called Rep. Moore’s statements on the House floor a “distraction,” and accused Democrats of “manufacturing this war on women because the Democrats know that the Republicans won the women's vote in 2010.” Her colleague, Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) managed to expand the rhetoric to include anything the current administration supports. “Whether it is spending, whether it is the cost of your health insurance, whether it is the price at the pump, this administration is too expensive to afford.” Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) even managed to shoehorn a few sacred catchwords into the mix, evoking “moms of America” who want “freedom for themselves and their kids” ... whatever that means.
One might think that anyone with a mother, or a sister, or a daughter, or an aunt — which is to say most of the human race — would find state agencies, rape crisis centers, and organizations that provide services to vulnerable women to keep them safe and alive, to be something laudable. Something worth funding and fighting for. Something that transcends political affiliation. Apparently, not Republicans. They don’t give a flying Fox about women.
This isn’t so much of a war on women, or even a debate about who should pay for contraception, as it is on rolling back as much of the progressive laws of the past thirty years that offered formerly impossible opportunities to women, as well as minorities, gays, immigrants, and anyone else who wasn’t a card-carrying member of mainstream and Main Street America. The Republican agenda is about power — nothing else — and that craving for the power to repeal all the political gains women, and minorities, have made over the past three decades.
But some GOP female lawmakers are not quite in lock-step with their Tea Party hostesses, although their concern seems more politically motivated than anything to do with ethics or even a sense of humanity: “I think that my party is in an unfortunate place right now as viewed by many, many women in this country who are feeling very anxious about what they believe to be attacks on women's health,” Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said. Might I suggest to the honorable Senator from Alaska that it might be because it is an attack on women’s health, and women in general? That maybe women in this country have genuine reason to be very anxious indeed?
It is a war. Not simply a war on women, but on all those who care about women as an important part of our society as a whole. About their well-being, their futures, their rights and, by extension, those rights that should be expected as inherent to all Americans, even all human beings, regardless of race, sex, color, or religion. It is a war we are losing — judging by far too many comments in political blogs. Not just rightwing sites like Malkin’s or RedState, where hatred and fear of the Other is their bread and butter. But even on a site like The Hill, written for and about the U.S. Congress and supposedly non-partisan, where an article featuring Rep. Gwen Moore’s speech to Congress garnered exceptionally vitriolic and despicable comments that made me angrier than anything in the article.
“Ohh boo hoo!” said one upstanding American citizen. “Maybe if she can’t take a little probing (no pun intended) then she should resign.”
“She must of [sic] been molested by a blind man.”
“If you choose to believe her. I don’t, she’s trying to sell some left wing legislation.”
“First Bobby Rush and his hoodie and now this?!? What is it, victims on parade day at the capital?”
“They have Planned Abortionhood, what more do they need?”
“This woman is disgusting.... Another progressive Dem using her own party’s games with standing law to gin-up a manufactured ‘War on Women.’ FAIL!!”
There’s more, but that’s about as much as I can stomach, frankly.
Any woman who stands up and declares that she was sexually abused as a child and raped as an adult is not doing it lightly. And this is why: Rep. Moore knew she would face accusations that her honesty is not to be trusted because she’s a Democrat, a politician, a black, a liberal but most of all, because she’s a woman. Her physical attractiveness is denigrated, the erroneous idea that rape is sexually motivated still ingrained in our society. Her motives are suspect, this can't possibly be about how women in American society are increasingly being forced back into second class citizenship, their rights eroded, their bodies open for exploitation by rapists and Republicans alike.
Rush Limbaugh might have done the country a favor in firing the opening salvo in this war on women, encouraging every bully gang dittohead to reveal the depths of their bigotry and ignorance on blogs all over the internet, overcoming the customary tendency to mask one’s malicious depravity in public to blatantly, even enthusiastically, vomit up all that poison that has been festering under rocks for decades. It might be appalling, even saddening. But it’s easier to fight an enemy if you can finally see them in the clear light of day.