Throughout the course of history it has always been a man’s first instinct to intrinsically protect women because they were not physically as strong as a man. It had nothing to do with chivalry, but was an innate, built-in mechanism that went beyond familial ties from the cave-man days to the modern era. However, here in America in the 21st century, a segment of the male population has been indoctrinated by evangelical snake-oil salesmen to believe that women are objects to be manipulated and used as incubators instead of equal members of society worthy of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
Let it be clear that this is not an indictment of all American men. It is an indictment of Christian conservatives who are in positions of power who have made it their goal to place women in an untenable position of forced birth based on their belief in an ancient, Bronze Age mythology from the Holy Land. By extension, it is also a condemnation of Christian conservatives who support such Draconian beliefs by voting for and supporting politicians who are proud of their suppression of women and unapologetic for allowing religious dogmata to dictate the worth and place women occupy in American society.
2011 will go down in history as the time American women were forced to subject to Taliban-type rule at the same time our military is fighting and dying to protect the lives of innocent Arab civilians and women who are treated like slaves and beaten, stoned to death, and dishonored because they were raped or had the audacity to show an inch of skin. The pertinent question in this issue is; where are America’s men and why are they giving their tacit approval for the degradation and vile treatment of American women? Why are men in America sitting idly by and allowing a select few Christian conservative legislators degrade women and subject them to such horrific treatment? It is a combination of abject fear of displeasing the religious right and a belief that Christians will only persecute someone else’s woman. In other words, it is acceptable to persecute an unknown, faceless woman; especially if they are poor women of color and women who are not Christians.
The good Christian men (and women) in the Republican party have consistently voted against equal pay for women doing the same job as a man because of a belief that women, no matter how qualified, do not have the same value as a man regardless how unqualified the man is for the job. Do men accept as tolerable that their daughter they’ve sent to college is worth less than a man with a high school diploma? It extends beyond just equal pay because in state after state Republicans vote against gender equality in health care coverage and retirement benefits because women are inferior. Do good Conservative Christian men think their wives are not worthy of the best medical care because of their gender? Since the beginning of the year, conservative Christians in Congress and state houses have passed legislation that restrict a woman’s right to choose their reproductive health, and they have gone to great lengths to demonize women who have the audacity to speak up or make choices contrary to Christian-inspired beliefs.
The spending cuts Republicans proposed inordinately target poor women by cutting benefits for programs to assist women in caring for their children; children Republicans abandon as soon as they leave the womb because as Christian conservatives have shown, they are pro-life as long as the life is a fetus. In many states as well as in the United States Congress, women who are violently raped must prove their rapists beat them before sexual assault is considered rape. It is questionable whether a Congressman whose wife was raped would allow anyone to consider her an accuser, or if she would have to subject to a physical examination to determine the rape was brutal enough to warrant being called a victim. Would a conservative Christian congressman tolerate his wife being called a whore because she wore a dress the rapist thought invited a sexual assault? What kind of man would force his daughter to give birth if doing so meant her life may be in danger? Based on recent legislation at the Federal and state level, any good Christian man would force his daughter to die just to satisfy Catholics and evangelical Christians.
The problem men have with women is endemic and has been around long before this current round of Christian conservatives gained majorities in Congress and state legislatures. Today 28% of unmarried working women with children fall below the poverty level but just 6% of men are in the same situation. There is a structural inequity that has been in existence since American society began. The Republican spending cuts are disproportionally aimed at women and the attacks on unions, public-sector employees, and social services are attacks on jobs that are predominately held by women.
The point is that women are held in such low esteem by men, especially Christian conservative men, that it has become socially acceptable to target women whether it is for reproductive choices, employment equality, or the right to a safe environment. Still, at some juncture, targeted women must have a man in their lives that should bristle at the thought of their mother, daughters, or wives being unfairly singled out for discrimination and legislative assault. Yet, men are silent. There are some males who advocate for women’s rights but they are few and far between and the religious excuse doesn’t hold water. There is not a proliferation of devout evangelical Christian men who advocate for their own women to undergo the shame Christian conservative legislators have set in motion with the new wave of anti-women laws being passed in the legislatures.
American men, indeed all men would protect their women if they were under direct assault by anyone whether it was a criminal or an irate boyfriend, husband or a casual acquaintance. However, when Christian conservatives in Congress and state legislatures pass laws that directly target women there is absolute silence. It is of no consequence that congressmen (or congresswomen) claim to be doing the lord’s work or that they are protecting a zygote or fetus, they are still singling out women for abuse. It is time for more American men to make their voices heard in defense of women’s rights before they lose the opportunity. At the rate Christian conservatives are moving, they will shift their focus to include men who speak up in defense of women’s rights and at that point it will be too late. It has been said that chivalry is dead and that may be true. Recent attacks on women that are left unanswered are making it painfully clear that justice for women is dead and so are the men who are tasked to protect them.