The United States heads into today’s Fourth of July celebrations consumed by anger at its women, as one state legislature after another attempts to enact laws that remove a woman’s right to manage her own body. Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis of Texas recently became a national figure when she staged a twelve-hour filibuster to kill SB5, a bill that would have shuttered the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics, an event that exposed some truly ugly anti-female leanings from her right-wing colleagues (and a swift decision by chromosome-challenged Governor Rick Perry to schedule a special session to pass the bill anyway in a manner that won’t be able to be filibustered). Ohio’s budget bill recently signed into law by Governor John Kasich contains language that redefines the concept of when pregnancy begins. And it appears that North Carolina has also followed suit by slipping anti-abortion wording into an unrelated bill. Medical decisions that should belong only to women and their doctors are being shoved down throats (or, to put it more bluntly and accurately, up vaginas) by old Bible-waving men whose medical expertise is limited to having seen every episode of Trapper John, M.D. It’s abhorrent and nauseating to imagine the damage that will be done by these draconian measures, and the mind simply reels at the idea of a country where a vagina must be strictly regulated but doing the same to a lethal firearm represents an infringement on freedom.
The U.S. is not alone, but merely the latest world player to climb aboard the bad ship Misogyny. We look aghast across the ocean at nations where women are forced to veil themselves head to toe and walk ten paces behind their husbands, and cannot even ride bicycles, let alone drive cars. It is the most bizarre of pendulum swings that as women become more independent, successful and (gasp!) powerful, the old guard reacts by trying to legislate them back into submission. By suggesting that women aren’t intelligent enough to manage their own bodies, and that it falls to Big Strong He-Man to pat her on the head and tell her boys know better while ushering her back to the kitchen to make him a sandwich and fetch him a beer. Oh, and to have unlimited sex with him whenever and only exactly how he wants it.
That kind of backward attitude can only come, it seems to me, from a place of pure fear, fear of the mystical and irresistibly compelling unknown that is the lady parts. What continues to elude me though is why all these men are so afraid. What do they think is going to happen? Truly? Perhaps it’s the terror of the eternally insecure, the paranoiac who forever walks in worry of being exposed as a complete fraud, a construct of paper with no purpose to his existence. An excellent depiction of this fear can be found in Ksenia Anske’s upcoming novel Siren Suicides, where the heroine must deal with an abusive father who insists that women are made only to “haul water.” Papa frequently belts his daughter across the face to “remind her” and keep her controlled. As the story unfolds, we discover that the seed of this hatred of women lies in his betrayal by one woman in particular. It is not a stretch to imagine that much of the world’s misogyny originates in a man’s frustration with one specific woman from his past – projecting her perceived “sins” onto her entire gender. “You’re all a bunch of feminists,” Marc Lepine railed infamously as he perpetrated the Montreal Massacre. You’re all. Woman is all women. The so-called failings of one are the failings of the collective. They must be controlled, regulated, kept down, lest… well, that’s the question, isn’t it, and that’s where you’ll find the fear.
I’m sorry, but I don’t get it, and as the politicians say, let me be abundantly clear. I’m goddamned tired of it. Because as men, we can do so much better, and yet we’re letting the standard be lowered daily by mouth-breathing troglodytes who can’t handle the funny feels that spring up (pun intended) in their groins when a woman walks by. Who resent the notion that anyone could have power over their manly manliness and who try to prove it by essentially wrapping vaginas in red tape (or shoving ultrasound wands inside them, as the case may be with some of these recent laws). Is this really what men want to be known for when the history of the 21st Century is written?
The aforementioned Neanderthal types need to take a hard long look in the mirror and ask themselves if this is what they signed up for. If they want to perpetuate the cycle of hatred for another generation. I have little optimism at this point that they will do so, however – the proverbial road-to-Damascus conversion is just that, the stuff of proverbs. So it is incumbent on the rest of us – and I’m speaking to my fellow men here, the ones who shift silently and uncomfortably in their seats when their best friend’s douchebag cousin makes a crude remark about the waitress instead of telling him to shut his filthy mouth and get the hell out. We need to be louder, and announce that not only do the Rick Perrys and John Kasichs of the world not speak for us, but that we’re kicking them out of the club, effective immediately – do not pass Go, do not collect $200. That’s it. Their “man card” is revoked. They will no longer be welcome in gatherings of real men, nor will they earn a single one of our votes come election time. We won’t drink with them, we won’t talk sports with them. We’ll cross the street to avoid them. We’ll shun them without pity. They will be condemned to peer longingly in the window from the cold street at those of us who know that a woman’s place is wherever she wants to be.
A man who demeans a woman or women in any way does not deserve the honor of being called a man. He’s an amateur, a lightweight, an utter joke of a waste of otherwise usable DNA overcompensating for what nature saw fit – justifiably so – to deny him. It’s time the rest of us men started treating him accordingly. Like how he treats women. Hopefully he’ll learn something and change his ways. Until then, forget it pal, you’re outta here.