The state of women’s welfare in these divided states
It is difficult to form an original thought. One quick online search often turns up results that point to numerous others who have had the same thought before you. Yet I never find where anyone else says what I am about to say: legal abortion is a consolation prize for women suffering under systemic oppression.
I have held this idea for most of my adult life. When I would receive polling calls from organizations such as NARAL, NOW, and Planned Parenthood, I would express my sincere belief that abortion might be unnecessary if there was 1) comprehensive sex education taught in middle schools everywhere, 2) free birth control for all, and, most importantly, 3) that this nation dispense with being a rape culture.
Fortunately, there have been significant strides made regarding my second point, and the first point is wrongfully left up to local school boards to decide. But the third point is the most difficult to take on, and it takes a lot more than the #metoo movement to solve. At the very least, law enforcement needs to take action on the evidence they collect instead of shelving rape kits without the intention of further investigation.
Punishment needs to be doled out, and I am talking the kind of punishment that would prevent a man from ever committing the crime again. Fortunately, we have the technology to humanely deliver this kind of punishment in the form of chemical castration.
Some may argue that the side effects of the drugs used are inhumane, but these drugs are often prescribed to women as either a means of birth control, or as treatment for certain reproductive health issues, and no one seems to have a problem with women suffering those same side effects.
Roughly one in three women experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their life. I don’t really need to cite that statistic because we have all known this to be true, but if you have doubts, you can see what the United Nations has to say about it. While the statistic pertains to a global population, as just one nation, the U.S. isn’t much better. In some ways, we are worse, because there are times when the law will define something that is undeniably rape as something else.
Such is the case with statutory rape, which is defined as someone who is at least of the legal age of consent engaging in intercourse with someone who is below the age of consent. Consent is the key to defining acts of sexual assault and rape, but if someone is not of the age of consent, then they cannot legally consent. Period. Except for when that person who is under the age of consent is married. I know what you are likely thinking: WTF?
Yes, child marriage is allowed in 44 states in the U.S., including Wisconsin. I know that some would argue this is to honor the tradition of diverse cultures, but I have known many people in the cultures people lump into that statement who want to get rid of those traditions as they disproportionately harm women and girls.
It might surprise people to know that female genital mutilation occurs in the U.S., and wasn’t outlawed until 1996 (with amendments in 2013 and 2020). While this blatant abuse of human rights still happens here, legislation has made a difference.
The issue of abortion gets more attention as a women’s rights issue than the problems of predation and mutilation of women. The message to girls is this: “You can count on being forced to have sex and have law enforcement do nothing about it, but at least you can terminate any resulting pregnancy.” As the right to safe and legal termination of pregnancy slips away, it lays bare just how poorly our system of laws protects women and girls.
I think that too many organizations have myopically focused on abortion exclusively, and that has set feminism back in many ways. I would even argue that abortion has received more attention than equal pay for equal work. I don’t try to pretend that I am 100% for legal abortion; it is not a black and white issue for me. I think that the idiots who had the notion of calling a life saving procedure “late term abortion” or “partial birth abortion” should burn in Hell.
What is so frustrating about U.S. law is that common sense is often sacrificed for syntax. I sincerely believe that if a pregnant woman is murdered, it should be treated as a double homicide. But we can’t just have that signed into law, oh no… this opens up the floor to talk about “personhood” and leads down a dark alleyway where women who miscarry are ghoulishly treated as suspects in a murder investigation during one of the most traumatic moments in their life.
The bottom line is that when it comes to human rights for all females in the U.S., we still have a long way to go. Picking our battles seems to be the key to getting anywhere while the Equal Rights Amendment remains in limbo. I think that if enough people speak up about something like child marriage, we can effect policy change in a way that benefits women. Reach out to your legislators at both the state and federal level and let them know that allowing child marriage is legal child abuse and it needs to stop. Ask for more severe consequences for sexual offenders. Women’s rights are human rights.