Women are the new illegals

Those in the Republican Party who are intent on exercising a fervent grip on women’s reproductive rights by cutting off oxygen to Planned Parenthood, yes, those like leading presidential contender, Mitt Romney, who want to “get rid of it,” aren’t referring only to Planned Parenthood when they say “it,” but to half a century of gains women have made in the workplace.

From the ultrasound requirement that crept from Kansas to Pennsylvania to muted chatter about rolling back affirmative action rulings, this assault on choice isn’t about morality, or the dubious rights of a one inch fetus, but instead garden variety economics plain and simple.

Rich white men of the mostly Republican persuasion are increasingly threatened by the emergence of women as a force to be reckoned with in the marketplace. Mostly rich white men of the conservative persuasion are likewise threatened by the growing number of women in Congress whose constituency includes not merely their wives and sisters, daughters, and mothers-in-law, but their bosses, too.

Nowadays, men often find themselves subordinate to women, and having to deal with the growing probability that there may soon be almost as many women in America’s boardrooms as in America’s bedrooms. The solution for Santorum, Romney, Gingrich et. al is to return to the days when women were toiling over a hot stove, mostly barefoot, and pregnant.

The growing phenomenon of women in the workforce and so-called “illegal” immigrants both pose a threat not merely to the financial elite, but to firefighters, law enforcement officers, service members, those in the service industry, as well as in any industry that is often called blue collar. Arguably, men who see women as competition for a job, regardless of their income bracket, are more likely to vote for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, et. al.

What’s more, now that more women are graduating from colleges than men, pretty soon women will have better documents than men to get those high octane, six figure jobs.

So it is then, in a thumbnail, when listening to Romney talk about pulling the plug on Planned Parenthood, remember that this has nothing to do with abortion, or contraception either. Romney has said he’s not trying to dissolve Planned Parenthood, but merely to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Remember that the candidate who wants to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, if elected, will be the president who appoints the next justice to the Supreme Court who will doubtless roll back whatever protections are in place for minorities in affirmative action rulings.

By way of contrast, as his first act as president of the United States in 2008, Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Some may argue this was mostly a symbolic act, and that the egregious inequality in pay for men and women still exists. This is true. Rest assured that none of the candidates from Romney’s party will lift a finger to address this economic injustice, but instead work to reassure those who feel most imperiled by the economic empowerment of women.

Indeed, it is doubtful that women would win the right to vote in the current neo-conservative climate that has captured the House, and much of the Senate.

Not only are the Republican candidates not addressing the gross inequality between the sexes that manifests not only when it comes to payday, but in the fact that women pay more for everything from dry cleaning to health benefits, but if given their way, they will work sedulously to roll back those inroads and safeguards that have taken half a century, and a Democratic administration, to achieve.

Once the Republicans pick their nominee, in the coming months, expect to hear more banter from that party about the issue of “illegal immigration,” and how to secure the border to keep more “illegals” out.

Republicans are right to focus on the issue of illegal immigration. They just have it a little backwards. They should instead be highlighting the egregious, ongoing exploitation of undocumented workers both in this country’s farms, as well as in sweatshops.

Similarly, those who are most emphatic about the right to life of an unborn fetus are really more concerned about the “right to wife” of men who are fed up with having to salute their women in the boardrooms, and on the front lines, and who want to return to the days of saluting only in the boudoir.

So it is then that the struggles of undocumented workers and women in 2012 are a push back against exploitation, and for equal opportunity, a push back against reserving a college education for the privileged few, and for keeping higher education, and social mobility unobstructed.

Those who want to highlight the so-called right to life are accomplishing what they never set out to. They are making the differences between the two parties sharper than they have been for generations.

Voters will have to choose, in November, whether to allow those who want to take from the rights of the living to enhance the rights of the unborn are to prevail. They lost that battle fifty years ago, and they must not be allowed to win it now.

Jayne Lyn Stahl is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

One Response to Women are the new illegals

  1. Dear Ms.Stahl,
    Regarding your article about women, illegals and the Republican Party: I wholeheartedly agree and know fully well who I’m voting for Nov. 2012