As a political writer, there is nothing worse than having a logjam of thoughts and emotions lead to writer’s block on an issue of importance, especially one that your editor specifically asks you to address.
In my case the announcement that the Violence Against Women Act finally passed the house was received at the same moment that I was surfing social media pictures of my colleagues who were in Washington DC that day, celebrating the centennial of Women’s Suffrage with the Smithsonian Institution.
The 100 year anniversary of suffrage and the fact that my state representative, a woman and a republican, actively opposed renewing the VAWA collided in my mind and got mucked up with irony and righteous indignation. In spite of promises to my editor, it has taken me more than a week to wrap my mind around these happenings and my mixed up feelings about them before I could put pen to paper.
It strikes me as repugnant that one century after Women’s Suffrage (and months after an election settled by women) our nation’s republican law makers hesitated, procrastinated and balked at every chance they had to pass this bill with its new provisions for protecting Native American Women, as well as GLBTQ women and undocumented immigrants. Barely able to form and communicate a decent argument against protecting all women regardless of race, gender or place of birth, the GOP stood firm against the bill for months before finally allowing it to pass the house and go on for presidential signing.
More than five score of years have passed since women first won the right to vote in my state and yet my representative, Cynthia Lummis, the only woman representing the populace of “The Equality State,” voted against the VAWA.
Ten decades have passed, with countless women (and the men who honor them) devoting themselves to feminism. I am happy to take up their torch, their fight is my fight now, even though it should have been laid to rest and done long ago.
I am willing to step in and lend my voice to the cry for equality, but I will not applaud or celebrate the centennial of suffrage as a job well done, but instead as a battle won in a long war. We are not done yet.
To change metaphors, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps we should bring Beyonce in to sing, as it looks closer to halftime than game over for Women’s Equality to me.
I look around and I see that there is a significant portion of our national leadership who do not believe that gay women deserve equal protection of the law. Republicans are willing to deny Native American Women the right to face their abusers in a court of law. They are willing to leave these women behind while their rapists and abusers escape on technicalities of law and loopholes in jurisdiction. The GOP says that they aren’t waging a War on Women, but they are willing to allow women who live in our country illegally to be raped and beaten without being entitled to the right to expect help from their society.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled at the passing of VAWA. Because of that law, all women, no matter their color or sexual identity, or means of being in our country are protected from abuse. Still, I am angry. I am angry that the GOP is willing to weigh women down, hold them back, and passive aggressively oppress them for some misguided ideology. I am angry that we are still fighting this fight.
Until both political parties stop idealizing and demonizing women, until we all cherish and honor each individual woman in our nation as we would our own daughter, and we value our daughters as we value our sons, we are bound to being held back from our goal of equality.
The fact is, I was asked for my opinion on the fact that VAWA passed the house last week. All I can think of to say is, “This is malarkey, this is absurd. Why celebrate something that ought to have been a given, supported by everyone, and passed on day one?”
Shame on you GOP. History will not look kindly on your obstructionism in the pursuit of Women’s Equality.