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Delicate issue, difficult solution

Let women decide

July 13, 2011
There's a song by singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked that goes something like this:

What's to be done with the prodigal son — welcome him home with open arms

Throw a big party, invite your friends — our boy has come back home.

When a girl goes home with the oats he's sown — draw the shades and the shutters

She's bringing such shame to the family name — the return of the prodigal daughter.

In real life, isn't that the way it really is? Throughout history, women have been considered second-class citizens, if even that. Consider Rembrandt, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Vermeer, Degas, Michelangelo and many others who are considered the most talented artists ever. What did they all have in common? They were all men. Few women were ever allowed to enter that world; it was believed that they had no talent except cooking and giving birth. And even today, there are still men who believe that.

In many parts of the world, women aren't allowed to even show their face. They can't leave their home without a male family member's escort. If they are raped, they are shunned by their family because they are "impure." They are stoned to death for any sexual violations as the men involved go about their lives. Many women all over the world can't show their legs, or even any bare skin, because they may "tempt" men. And if men are "tempted," it's the fault of the women. Meanwhile, many of these men can dress any way they want.

The old adage of "rape and pillage" applied to wars throughout history when the victors claimed their "spoils of war." And in some parts of the world, that hasn't changed. We — Americans — did nothing when thousands and thousands of women and girls were raped during the war just a few years ago in Rwanda, and the same thing is happening right now in the Congo area of Africa. Many of those who are raped become pregnant and, in a country where abortion is illegal, must live with the memory of that violence the rest of their lives, every time they look at the product of that rape. The men who commit those horrible acts go home to their wives and a good night's sleep. There will be other women victims tomorrow.

In this country, it was against the law for black men to vote until 1869 when the 15th Amendment was passed. But women, even married women, still weren't allowed to vote or even to own property until 1920, when the 19th Amendment became law. And the passage of this law came after years and years of protests and hard work by women activists like Susan B. Anthony, who was hated by many men back then. She's now considered a heroine, and her likeness has even graced an American coin.

And for generations after this country was founded, it was out of the question for a woman to have the ability to seek a divorce, no matter the reason. In the late 1800s, after her husband horsewhipped and beat her, a North Carolina woman took her plea for divorce to the state's Supreme Court. Her plea was denied and the court instructed her that the law gives her husband the power to use such a degree of force necessary to "make the wife behave and know her place."

This country is now facing another situation of unjust, a situation of men deciding what is best for women. The law referred to as "Roe v. Wade" was passed here in 1973, giving women the right to an abortion. That law has been attacked from every angle possible — for religious and other reasons — and many of those doing the attacking have been men. Politicians, who are mostly men, are, as we speak, doing their best to whittle away at Roe v. Wade with various state laws. The battle has moved from a difference of beliefs about abortions to using it as a tool to get elected or re-elected. Many absolutely useless politicians have been elected on that one issue, and we're still falling for it. Meanwhile, these incompetent politicians are turning this country upside down economically and socially, while the anti-abortion people can only focus on one thing: Roe v. Wade.

But it all comes back to one thing: men controlling women. Men don't have babies. If they did, there would only be one. And if men could have babies, you can bet they would never allow women to make a decision about their bodies. Politicians, again, who are mostly men, are now attacking Planned Parenthood and other groups that work to help women. A small part — a very small part — of what they do is related to abortions. A large part — a very large part — of what they do is furnish contraceptives to poor women. Let's face it, most of the responsibility for birth control falls on women, yet these male politicians are working to deny them that. And men still want to have sex with them.

So, what are these women to do? We hate them for giving birth to unwanted babies that we have to help raise, we hate them if they want an abortion, we hate them for getting pregnant, we hate them because men aren't responsible enough to help them with contraception, and we hate them for being desirable women that men will take advantage of. And still, we hate them when they have to deal with — often alone — the aftermath of our sexual escapades.

So, when it comes to Roe v. Wade, maybe we should stop all the fighting and put it to a vote. But only women should be allowed to vote on it. Men should, for once, just shut up. We've restricted women's choices forever, so let's, for the first time, allow them to actually make that choice. If the law is thrown out, so be it. If it's kept on the books, let's live with it. Once that issue is settled, maybe politicians, even the incompetent ones, can get to work creating a few jobs and salvaging what's left of the economy.

If we treated every woman as we do our daughters, in a caring and respectful way, abortion wouldn't be an issue. And wouldn't this be a better world? I'm at a point in my life where I believe that women are just better people than men. When it comes to women, men rape them, men make them pregnant and leave them, men beat them up because they want to and women are weaker, and men want to force them to have babies that the men don't want or care for, and to deny them the right to do anything about our sexual screw-ups. Throughout history, men, including Rembrandt and Michelangelo, have shown their true colors, and it's not a pretty picture.

Look, here comes a prodigal son, fetch him a tall drink of water

But there's none in the cup — cause he drank it all up — left for the prodigal daughter.

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