In the wake of the Supreme Court’s precedent-demolishing decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, I’m revisiting a column that ran on Jan. 3, 2018, followed by some after-thoughts:
The year 2017 was the Year of the Woman, but not the one many predicted. It should have been the first year of our first woman president. Hillary Clinton lost (sort of) to a self-absorbed misogynist pig, so everyone thought the dream had been deferred yet again. But if Hillary had won (actually, she did, making it all the more galling), women might have been lulled into complacency, believing the system still works.
Instead, the Trump travesty mobilized women in ways that otherwise would not have been possible.
It started with the Women’s March on Washington (and elsewhere), an in-your-face act of defiance aimed at everything that’s wrong with this country, particularly patriarchal dominance.
The marches represented everything that’s best about this country, the outburst of creative sign-making slogans being a high point.
Then the “#MeToo” movement blew the lid off sexual harassment. Our Groper-in-Chief awakened the fierce power of the feminine. Just in time. It’s pretty obvious the out-of-touch (but way too touchy) patriarchy will destroy this country and our planet if allowed to go unchecked much longer.
We don’t deserve it, but men need women to ride to the rescue. Men have proven that, left in charge long enough, the results will be disastrous. Somehow women must grab the political wheel.
It needs to happen soon. We’re running out of time.
I’ve been a feminist since the late 1960s, when I was 16 and came across the book, The Natural Superiority of Women, by anthropologist Ashley Montagu. Here’s the way goodreads.com described it:
“Among the central issues of the modern feminist movement, the debate over biology and culture, over sex and gender, over genetics and gender roles has certainly been one of the most passionately contested. Making revolutionary arguments upon its first publication in 1953, The Natural Superiority of Women stands as one of the original feminist arguments against biological determinism. An iconoclast, Montagu wielded his encyclopedic knowledge of physical anthropology in critique of the conventional wisdom of women as the ‘weaker sex,’ showing how women’s biological, genetic, and physical makeup made her not only man’s equal, but his superior. Also a humanist, Montagu points to the emotional and social qualities typically ascribed to and devalued in women as being key to just social life and relationships.”
Feminism has been gaining momentum for 50 years, and this may finally be the breakout moment. Women are discovering the power of their collective voice. What a gift — to men as well as women.
A shift to matriarchy isn’t the answer. Dominance by one gender is the problem, and gender equality is the answer.
Carl Jung described a healthy psyche as a balance of male and female, or as he called it, the animus and anima. The best way for that to happen politically is for more women to run for elected office and more men to support and vote for them. Men need to get a clue and women need to get elected — with the active support of every man who wants to change the “good old boy” school of American politics.
Well, the “good old boy” network is still around and it’s hard to see overturning Roe v. Wade as anything other than part of an ongoing effort to disempower women. But women’s empowerment cannot be undone. It will prevail.
This is epitomized by the surprising emergence of Liz Cheney over the last three years as an authentic American hero, a genuine profile in political courage. She refused to trade her integrity for her career and serves as a shining example of a politician who demonstrates that in a time of crisis, country comes before party loyalty.
I may disagree with Cheney’s politics, but I admire her commitment to telling the truth, on full display right now as co-chair of the January 6 Commission hearings. I don’t know where she stands on abortion and reproduction rights, but I do know where she stands on women’s empowerment: front and center.
She and her fellow commission members are showing the entire country how extreme and ruthless the Republican Party — which extends to their judicial affiliate, the Supreme Court — has become.
I hope Cheney decides to run for president in 2024 because she would give what remains of the center right in this country someone to rally around. But she isn’t the only standout. Many other women are ready to lead, with many more to come. Women are gaining and this awful court decision will only intensify the surge.
They must and will have reproductive justice. Women, all human beings for that matter, must be able to decide what happens to their own bodies. The state cannot decide for them. That right is pre-eminent and inalienable. If we do not have bodily autonomy, then we have no rights at all.
How we treat life in the womb, anti-abortion extremists say, is a measure of society’s morality. But how we treat children and women beyond the womb is a more accurate measure. Morality minus love is immoral, and there is no love in this court decision. The hidden agenda is disempowering women.
But women will only grow stronger because they are endlessly resourceful, imaginative, and strong. You cannot stop them.
And in this November’s midterm elections, I believe, with our active support, they will prevail.