Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Hey Girls, We Slipped Up

Filed in Stories, voices :: March 16, 2012

This month we’re remembering and honoring and celebrating women who’ve gone before us by telling their stories.

Today’s Nest-Making post by Ann Wijkstrom takes a slightly different tack, thanking a man who reminds us that our mothers’ work is not yet done.

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Would I like to honor someone during Women’s History Month?

Well of course!

I come from a family full of fabulous and strong women. And I have always been a feminist. Although, more of a feminine feminist than a bra burning, hairy-legged one. I figured my mother and her generation got that all out of the way back in 1968. My view on the subject has always been that I am pro-women as opposed to anti-men. A “Feminist Light,” so to speak.

As I tried to figure out whom I wanted to feature in a column about women, I got somewhat stumped. And confused. And the two conclusions I finally ended up with surprised me:

  • I think being a Feminist Light is naïve and that today’s debates require going back to our mothers’ fights; and,
  • I want to thank Rush Limbaugh and dedicate this column to him.

You see, Mr. Limbaugh actually managed to clear up a topic that had had me thoroughly confounded:

Ever since the debate regarding the requirement for religiously affiliated hospitals and colleges to offer insurance coverage for contraception for their employees started, it was constantly referred to as a question of freedom of religion. And I couldn’t understand the logic: surely it is up to the individual to, according to their religious beliefs, decide whether they will use contraception or not. Or did the new insurance rules state that every man and woman had to use contraception unless they were planning to have a baby?

I know, I know, the commonly agreed on definition of church vs. state is that it is the institution itself, not the individual, that receive the freedom when it comes to core values. But I still found it confusing, as I would have thought that the institutions in return would give the same kind of respect and religious freedom to their employees. Especially when receiving federal funding. Or does religious freedom supersede the separation between church and state?

Anyway, back to Mr. Limbaugh: it wasn’t until his rant and verbal abuse of the female Georgetown law student who testified to the congressional committee that the issue was brought to the plane where it should live: this is not a question of religious freedom. It is one of women’s rights. By calling Ms. Fluke names that I will not repeat, as it is not how I was raised, Mr. Limbaugh shone the spotlight right in the issue’s ugly face. The fact that he continued and said the poor woman, by simply asking for women’s health to be included in her insurance, owes the male population filmed documentation of her sex-life, distributed on-line, kind of signs the deal in my mind. Where in the Bible does it say that we should watch porn, Mr. Limbaugh? Don’t get me wrong: I think people should watch whatever makes them happy as long as it is within the law. But I’m not one who has built her reputation on claiming moral superiority the way so many of the men on this bandwagon has.

I could go much further here and explain how, even though it might seem like a highly domestic issue, this has implications on women all over the world as the Pope and the US are two of the biggest power-houses when it comes to the international arena. Just think of the effects it will have on women in the third world when women’s health and sexual education/contraception information become this political and the consequences it will have on its funding.  Or wait: you don’t have to go overseas to see the implications. Just look at Texas and what happens to the women’s clinics, serving over 100,000 low-income women, when they lose its federal funding as a consequence of the state implementing a new law that cuts state funding to Planned Parenthood.  But I understand: it is secondary that 100,000 women lose their (in many cases only) health care provider to prove a point.

Am I a hardcore feminist to think this is wrong?

Here’s what I do know: words matter. And the political debate that is going on right now is claiming to own morality when in reality it is rewinding the work done by so many women of my mother’s generation. We slipped up, girls. We got comfortable. I don’t care where you stand politically, but do we really want to go back to a time where women are the lesser sex and the head of the household is the strong man who can steer us, the immoral rib, on the right track? Where women are being called prostitutes when asking for adequate health care?

Here’s one thing I’ve never heard though: I have never heard a call to action, or even seen a badly produced PSA, from those men who presume to preach high morals telling young men to Man Up and not have sex until they are ready to be fathers. Because that’s one important factor that Mr. Limbaugh forgot to bring up in the midst of all that vitriol that he was spewing: if we stop having sex there won’t be any kids. And, if the sex thing were out of the picture, would it then be OK for women to receive their health care?

In a world without sex, no religion will risk losing its freedom. No one will have to call women derogatory names. And Mr. Limbaugh won’t have to explain how come, after all his marriages and all that subsidized Viagra, he still has no children.

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Ann Wijkstrom is a freelance writer living in Miami.
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For more nest-making posts, look here and here and here and here.
Filed in Stories, voices