Tag Archives: Birth Control debate

Women Are Still Underrepresented in America

21 Feb

I must admit that I am a little behind on the whole birth control debate that swarmed the blogs last week. For those of you who don’t know, on Thursday, February 16, 2012, five male Congressional leaders held a hearing about women’s access to birth control. More specifically, the hearing was regarding whether or not religious employers should be required to pay for birth control for their female employees. Despite the fact that this issue is dubbed a “woman’s issue,” there were no women invited to partake in the hearing and there were no women at the Congressional table. Religious or not, the hearing was being held to make decisions about a woman’s body, yet no women were invited to give their opinion. Isn’t it strange that women are 51%of the population, yet they still don’t have a say when it comes to their reproductive rights.

In addition to last week’s Congressional hearing, the State Legislature of Virginia passed some awful law requiring women seeking an abortion to receive a trans-vaginal ultrasound, which requires the insertion of a probe inside of a woman’s vagina, whether or not she agrees or wants an ultrasound. This bill, if passed, will be considered one of the toughest ultrasound laws passed in the states. What is most shocking to me about the trans-vaginal ultrasound is that there is a noninvasive ultrasound procedure that could be adopted instead. The law will also require a printout of the ultrasound to be placed in the woman’s records, whether or not she wants to view it. To put it another way, Virginia has authorized State sanctioned rape when a woman decides that she wants, or in some instances needs, an abortion.

Then, to top it all off, Rick Santorum backer, Foster Friess, told host Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC that “Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” Essentially Friess was telling women to keep their legs closed, and getting annoyed that a debate on contraceptives was even going on. Seriously? Does this guy still live in the 1940’s? Does he not see how we live in a hypersexualized society? Does he not see that the media often depicts women in a derogatory manner, making young girls think that sexualized activity is normal? Freiss’s comment makes it sound as if the increase in sex among young, and even old, women is simply due to the fact that these women can’t keep their legs closed. This guys needs to come to grips with reality and open his eyes.

Now, although it may seem like I am, I am not trying to talk politics or religion. I am simply writing to express how concerned I am that more women are not represented in the U.S. government. I am also frustrated that despite our grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ efforts, women still don’t have a say when it comes to their reproductive rights. Women hold only 90 of the 535 seats in Congress, which is an astonishing 16.8% of seats within the U.S government. Only women are currently acting as state governors and only 35 women have ever held a governorship.  What statistics cannot explain, pictures can. In an article entitled It’s Reigning Men: Birth Control Panel As One Float in DC’s Televised Patriarchy Parade, Karrin Anderson showed various pictures proving that it is mostly men who debate the hot topics in Washington that have an impact us. The pictures prove that women still don’t have a seat at the table when it comes to important decisions.

If the past week has shown women anything, it should be that we are not adequately represented in our government. Because of this, we cannot automatically assume that equality will come from our government and the laws and policies they enforce or enact. Sure, there are some men who have women’s interests in mind, but men and women often have different views on such issues and men don’t really understand what it is like to be a woman. Does a man really know what its like to have a probe inserted into their vagina? Do they know how uncomfortable that could make a young woman feel? I doubt it.

So what solutions do we have? The only solution I see is to encourage other women to run for political office. Women need to come together and support, rather than criticize, female candidates. Sure, we may not like Sarah Palin’s politics or Hillary Clinton’s stance on a particular issue, but that doesn’t mean that we need to put her down. Women need the support of other women. We need to support all women that run for political office as they are our only chance at equality.

How can you get involved with this cause? There are a lot of organizations out there trying to ensure that women are adequately represented in government, such as the National Women’s Political Caucus, The 2012 Project, and Off the Sidelines.

In my opinion younger women need to step up and help women become better represented in Congress. What are you going to do?