As a woman, few things are as disturbing as watching history unfold as progress takes a giant leap backwards. The outcome of the Hobby Lobby case has proven yet again that patriarchy, and slut-shaming, are alive and well in America, and may have women who once considered themselves moderate Republicans rethinking their votes in the upcoming elections.
This week’s outcome in the Hobby Lobby ruling has re-opened the question: Just where should women stand politically in order to protect the underlying interests unique to their gender?
It’s no secret that women have had to navigate a minefield in their attempts to gain a modicum of legal equality and possession over their own persons. In the early 18th Century, domestic patriarchalism was the ideology that husbands held authority and ownership over their wives, and proclaimed women the legally inferior sex.
In March of 1776, Abigail Adams asked her husband John to “Remember the Ladies” in order to protect women from the legal tyranny of their husbands. “If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation.”
Certainly less than eighty years after women were burned at the stake for witchcraft, adultery, whore mongering, and giving birth to bastards, Abigail saw that little had changed for her gender.
Throughout history in America, and, in the name of Christianity, women have been denied access to preventative healthcare, land ownership, child custody, interest payments on their investments, were openly belittled in publications as idiots and whores, and considered radical progressives simply for demanding equality when it pertains to voting in elections, decision-making authority over their own bodies and reproductive systems, equal pay and workforce opportunities.
In 1968, the slogan targeting the young, professional female consumer by Virginia Slims “You’ve come a long way, baby” no longer seems to have merit.
If nothing else, the Hobby Lobby case pushes Republican-leaning women to make an unsavory choice: vote based on their economic and fiscal philosophies that support capitalism, or vote their conscience as women who have been consistently fighting the battle to protect their medical and reproductive rights while struggling to hold on to the marginal legal legitimacy that has taken over 300 years to accomplish in this country.”
The Hobby Lobby case is being touted as a “Constitutional” win by improperly informed so-called “patriots,” and since most of them are unaffected by this ruling simply due to their gender or economic status, they have jumped on an embarrassingly ignorant bandwagon.
The lawsuit itself was not based on the First Amendment or the Bill of Rights; an argument that is laughable, yet simultaneously disturbing because (a) those (mostly male) people believe that a corporation’s First Amendment “rights” which should belong solely to individuals have been upheld, and (b) these people vote without consideration of the impact to 50% of the general population.
The Hobby Lobby case was a statutory lawsuit that broadly misapplied the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which notably, was enacted to support and enforce the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act. The Hobby Lobby lawsuit bastardized the purpose of a law positioned to protect Native Americans’ religious practices from the overreach of white-man expansion and oppression, and was instead used to enhance the “person”-rights of a large corporation to impute the owners’ fundamentalist Christian will on its staff.
Though it remains to be seen the actual breadth of this ruling, at least forty other corporations are awaiting their day in court so they can deny all access to all birth control medications to all women employees. Wheaton College just received their injunction to ensure they too, will not be “overburdened” by providing an insurance policy that offers contraceptive care to women which, they feel, is in conflict with their deeply held religious beliefs. It only took a few days, and we are already watching angered women SCOTUS justices file scathing dissents against their male counterparts.
The Hobby Lobby case has been eye-opening for many women, especially those that may have previously defined their political persuasion as “fiscally conservative/socially liberal.” Women who do not spend their time as political watch-dogs and instead spend ample time on social media have seen Facebook strings and Twitter posts blow up in a most disturbing way.
The public, relentless, slut-shaming reaction on social media outlets regarding the Hobby Lobby ruling has proven that patriarchy and misogyny are as much a product of the firmly held belief that women are less valuable to society than their male counterparts for fundamentalist Christian men today as it was hundreds of years ago.
With self-proclaimed pro-life Republican men proudly making statements such as: “… if you want fuck coverage pay for that shit yourself” and “[t]he whiny ass bitches are the ones that didn’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision” it’s becoming more difficult for women to jump on the GOP bandwagon.
Other comments by men when it comes to this issue are more obvious in their viewpoint of where women belong, such as “roles in society are predetermined by our genetic makeup” and, “go work somewhere else if you don’t like it.” as well as dismissive quips such as, “that’s like saying since men won’t pay for dinner anymore [so] women can’t eat.”
These fundamentalist self-declared Christian men are also, evidently, extremely knowledgeable in women’s medical care: “the whole argument about the hormonal benefits of these pills that women take, but not for the contraceptive itself is ridiculous,” and that the “…extreme amount of pregnancies that women put themselves into by just sleeping with whomever they want because that’s what this generation does now” is by no means a reason to permit access to birth control that is only available by prescription.
Perhaps, women should just know their place: “Too many women believe the ‘my body my choice’ crap” and women should also keep this in mind next time she’s sexually assaulted: “Nobody told a chick to say yes. Nobody told her not to use protection. Nobody said she couldn’t say no.” And if a pregnancy is a result of rape? “There is NO CHOICE.”
A polarized Congress has ineffectively legislated, forcing the SCOTUS to legislate from the bench. As decades of progress get dismissed by the majority-male, conservative justices sitting on the bench in the Supreme Court (despite contentious dissents from their female counterparts), there are serious philosophical questions women must ask themselves: How do we protect and promote our economic philosophies while protecting the personal rights to our bodies, workplace equality, and prevent fundamentalist ideologues brow-beating us with their dogma?
The GOP has placed their party at a great disadvantage when it comes to capturing or retaining female voter loyalty. A discouraged woman will likely vote Democrat.”
Christianity has its own form of Sharia Law, it seems, and while the American right-wing fundamentalist Christian men spew their hate on all-things women, legislate from the bench, and await the Rapture, female voters who once considered themselves fans of Reagan’s GOP, now must sadly consider jumping ship to protect themselves from the very party they once supported.