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Justice Ginsburg is right about Roe

It looks like my writer’s block is over.

The NYTimes has an editorial about Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s thoughts on Roe v. Wade.  This is prompted by her tepid approach to marriage equality and that a grand sweeping ruling may become the new political football that provokes a backlash.  I’m not sure that’s true in this case because as I wrote in my previous post, the right has some potentially good reasons for trying to steal the gay voting bloc away from Democrats.  They may try to present marriage equality as a fait accompli to their more religious base that is dying out anyway.

At any rate, half of the gay population is already in the privileged class simply because they are men.  As long as they kept their sexual orientation under the radar, there was nothing stopping gay men from partaking of all of the benefits of being male in this society.  In a way, I think the success of marriage equality depends on men standing their ground and refusing to give up those privileges.  The fact that lesbian couples may also benefit is just icing on the cake.  So, maybe Ginsberg’s concerns are less grounded this time around.  Besides, what are the Bible Belt states going to do?  Become more obstinate, belligerent and Republican than they already are towards gay couples?  Is that even possible?

But it’s a different story when it comes to Roe v. Wade.  My theory is that Roe dealt a huge blow to the movement for women’s equality because once it was decided, many women had the mistaken idea that the battle was won.  Instead, Roe became the political football for BOTH political parties.   It’s the primary criteria for which party voters decide they belong.  It’s the fear tactic that Democrats use to corral women to vote against their economic interests as much as it is the tactic that Republicans use to rally their constituents to feel power and control over other people’s lives.

Not only is Roe a political football, it has had major repercussions in setting back women’s equality.  Because abortion has been such a cultural hot potato, we tend to see women as a collection of body parts, primarily reproductive body parts.  We are uteruses and vaginas and breasts and all of our discussion is about who gets to control those body parts.  I am not a man or a male hiring manager but I have to wonder what crosses men’s minds when they see a female colleague.  Do they consider her intelligence, determination, ingenuity and hard work or do they secretly thank god that they weren’t born with ovaries that are subject to religious and governmental regulation?  There are things the state can compel or forbid a woman from doing that men don’t have to worry about.  I cannot believe that this doesn’t have an effect on how women are perceived in all the various aspects of her life.  Maybe if she were a bit smarter, she wouldn’t have to put up with that.

I do not agree with the NYTimes editorial board that women wouldn’t have won their reproductive freedom without Roe.  This is going to sound weird but when I was on the cusp of puberty back in 1970 when New York allowed abortions, feminism was vibrantly alive and kicking, unlike 2013 when it’s barely visible, tepid and calling yourself a feminist is outré and derogatory.  You younguns don’t even know.  You had to be there.  Women were on a roll. I was brought up in a religiously fundamentalist household and yet I was a raging feminist back in the early 70s just like many of my friends.  The world was our oyster and we could do anything. The zeitgeist was definitely and defiantly feminist.  Roe brought that to a screeching halt.  If Roe had failed, there would still have been states where you could have gotten an abortion and the fight would have intensified, not slackened because the effects of abortion restrictions elsewhere would still be vividly real.

So, if Bader-Ginsburg’s concerns are that Roe short circuited the political drive and momentum for women’s full equality, then I totally agree with her.  There were a million reasons why Roe should have been decided as the law of the land but the best one is that women are free and equal persons whose rights should not be abridged simply because they have different genitalia.

Instead, what we have is a hollowed out right to abortion and no equality because we stopped fighting.

Dump Roe.  Revive the ERA.

8 Responses

  1. ” Besides, what are the Bible Belt states going to do? Become more obstinate, belligerent and Republican than they already are towards gay couples? Is that even possible?”

    Yes. The first time a gay wedding is bombed.

    • But it’s not like they aren’t already capable of doing that. It’s not going to stop violence against gay people. Preventing them from marrying does not stop them from doing stuff they couldn’t have already done. And as far as I know, committing violence is illegal. Besides, if gay marriages become targets, the participants can always do it in secret. They can go to a JP or have weddings in their homes. It doesn’t need to be a public event.
      Abortions, on the other hand, can only be conducted in special places and, right up to the door of the clinic, in full view of the public.

  2. If you will forgive an offtopic post, I wanted to suggest that you read (if you haven’t already) David Priestland’s “Merchant, Soldier, Sage: A History of the World in Three Castes” which I found extremely thought-provoking and relevant as to where we are today, and where we might be heading. If nothing else, I suggest reading the chapter Davos Man.

  3. The Willards of Wall Street will have us fighting among ourselves as they loot what little is left. The fights over Gender Equality, Freedom From Religion, and the right to reasonably priced health care are shams to keep us distracted form what congress is doing to us behind our backs on orders from their corporate masters.

    We have Pelosi-care (I mean what did Obama do but put down his waffle fork and sign the legislation) because any investigation into what Wall Street did to America would have implicated over half the Democrats in Washington. HCR diverted our attention from the fact that “Too Big to Fail” is still too big to fail and Democrats were paid handsomely for their efforts.

    • While I understand that the fights you reference were used and manipulated to divert from the on going upper class lootathon in progress, I can’t agree that the fights themselves were/are shams. They are over real things with real meaning to real people. ( For example, the Baucus Obama Romneycare Act is itself a powerful looting engine.) Now . . .
      can the millions of ordinary people who focused on these fights expand their focus to the looting too? Because these things are ALL real and all deserve some of our scarce and strained energy and attention.

  4. Considering all the new abortion restriction put into place, you wonder where all the FeMANists who said Obama was better for women and where are the ‘Women for Obama’ in the fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights?

    Yup, go for the ERA, the one ISSUE does not define all the issues of women, and considering all the recent loses it’s time to expand and not be a ONE ISSUE women.

  5. Speaking of same-sex marriage, I just found this MP: :mrgreen:

  6. I have somehow been away from here for months and am overjoyed to return to one of ther smartest blogs around. Thanks!

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