Attended a birthday luncheon party today and there were long time familiar faces around the table. Conversation touched over and over again on the assault on women that are we're watching unfold in Congress and state capitals all over the country. There was agreement that we must get together again soon with our email lists and decide how to organize ourselves. Many of us attended the National Women's Conference in Houston in 1977 during the Jimmy Carter administration, participating in those glorious days when anything seemed possible.
The conference was federally funded, mind you, and the wives of three presidents spoke as well as New York Congresswomen Bella Abzug and Shirley Chissom, Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, Gloria Steinem and playwright Ntozake Shange, (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf) and Dr. Spock. Oh, and Phyllis Schlafly held an adjacent anti-feminist conference instead of joining ours. Why didn't we pay more attention to her? Why did we think that once things changed, they'd move steadily forward?
First off, such a National Women's Conference would never be Federally funded in today's political climate. Does that tell you how far afield we've drifted, paying little attention as anti-women groups fight abortion rights when all along, underneath the raw images of bloody fetuses, this fight, this backlash has really about women's rights and not fetuses at all.
Newly elected Tea Party congressmen and state legislators are now expressing doubts about women being able to make decisions about our own bodies. These folks are serious about pushing Planned Parenthood off a cliff by denying Federal funding, because Planned Parenthood makes women promiscuous. Perhaps by offering prenatal care and contraceptive information to tens of thousands of women? These folks would like to cut off funds for children already born, saying we can't afford Head Start and think what is happening in the states as they make enormous cuts in funding for education. Do they really not want the next generation to know much of anything because the majority of young folks are 'other, ' not like us?
The women at this birthday luncheon talked about how to reorganize ourselves, how to form consciousness raising groups once again, when to begin a series of op-ed pieces and letters, how to effectively use You Tube and Facebook because fewer folks read newspapers.
We are worried and and reeling from this all-out assault on women's rights. I've attended three women's events in the last week and the women sitting around the table at each luncheon or dinner are in corporate, professional and non-profit leadership positions. They are lawyers, doctors, professors, designers, architects, all because of the sea change brought about by the women's movement.
Guess it's all been too much for a lot of men. They're working to get women in line. Start with the child bearing women and poor and minority women are easier to knock down first. I guess they figure the rest of us will die at some point. Then if they've calculated correctly, things will go backward, way past Mad Men. Hell, of late, the new folks in Congress are even disparaging President Lincoln.
So, women of all ages and backgrounds, "It's time to stand as one and say, 'No, you don't.'"And this time around, let us be inclusive. We left out so many women in 1977.
I 'd say there are going to be many marches and letters, tweets and YouTube videos in my future.