A Witch and her Womb: A Modern Day Witch Hunt.

The Salem Witch Trials

In the mid-1600s, hundreds of women were accused and hanged for being  “a witch” in Massachusetts. Puritanical and European ideals of gender bias provided the perfect backdrop for mass hysteria surrounding the autonomy of women and their station in life. This means that certain women were targeted as being witches depending on whether or not they were married, widowed, or had inherited a large sum of money and land. Basically, the more freedom a woman had, the more likely the men in charge (and women with less freedom) believed them to be witches. Ladies, it is akin to your husband not wanting you to go out and party with your single female friend because she could be “a bad influence”, or the opposite, when wives don’t want their husbands to party with their single male friends. It is about insecurity, low confidence, and lack of control. During the 1600s, the men in charge could not get passed the gender-roles imposed by cultural norms and religious ideology. So, they accused women of being “witches” because they wanted to limit the freedoms that they procured. A woman unrestrained by the bonds of marriage, or in possession of large amounts of money, was dangerous to the social order. What would happen if all women started thinking they could do whatever they wanted? Using religion to oppress women was the puritan’s saving “grace”, and their bread and butter. How would men eat if the women didn’t prepare the bread and butter, get it? Everyone’s actions sound legitimate when you say that God (a Christian God, of course) is the reasoning behind it. Read more about gender bias and religion during the Salem Witch Trials here.

Cut To the 2017 Witch Trials

You may be thinking…Chelsea, what are you talking about? Women are not being hanged or burned at the stake. Well, yes, that is true #progress. It is probably because it is now illegal and the government targeting one half of the population is generally frowned upon. So, we fast forward to our contemporary society, and guess what? Republican law makers are targeting half of the population. Say it with me: when women have control of their bodies, they have the freedom and power to do what they want. Hmmm…

It seems like the religious right and republicans do not think women are smart enough to make their own decisions regarding birth control and abortion. No, that’s not it at all. It’s about tying our hands behind our backs. 

Conservative lawmakers hide behind “family values”  and religion, in order to take away choice from women, making our lives more difficult. I respect the religious beliefs of individuals who do not personally believe in abortions. However, I also respect the Constitution. Hence, the term “pro-choice”; the word CHOICE is key in that phrase. It also gives women the option to choose to obtain an abortion and what birth control method is best for them.  However, making it more economically difficult to access these choices, effectively takes away the choices for most women and THAT is what lawmakers are counting on. 

Why do they want to regulate my womb more than firearms in the United States?

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees a Separation of Church and State. This means that a congressman’s personal religious view has no place becoming codified between the walls of Congress (let’s read that again). Essentially, Congress is giving businesses the “religious freedom” to exclude birth control and abortion coverage under their healthcare benefits. THIS IS CRAZY! Just like certain State Legislatures allow discrimination of the LGBTQ community and minorities, under the guise of religious freedom. Oh hell, I didn’t realize we went back in time to America’s puritanical heyday! How is this happening in 2017?  I thought that women fought this battle in 1973, with the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade. 

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Image via Psychology Today

 

Mo’ Freedom, Mo’ Problems

So ladies, our ancestors fought for the right to receive an education, the right to vote, the right to be treated equally. Why we are still fighting their fights plus more! It is now our fight! All of our fights, irrespective of political and religious ideology, because we are all women! Abortion became Federally legal in 1973 during a time when many women were still working in the home. To put the inequality during that time into perspective, women could not own a credit card unless it was in her husband’s name, or serve on a jury, or use birth control pills, and more. 

Ladies, do you want to go back to those “good old days”?

Since the 1970s, women have pushed their way into working outside the home and proving that they can run the hell out of a company, run a State, and run a household. Today, women are able to have their own bank accounts, credit cards, and pretty much anything we want #BossLadies. Despite this move forward for women, we encounter challenges every step of the way.  Social norms, religious ideology, family pressures, and economic challenges can make us feel like we are walking up hill with a load of bricks in our backpacks. We keep walking up hill, while trying to dodge the rolling rocks of patriarchy being thrown at us by a misoginstic society (my Women and Gender Studies minor is really coming in handy). We are resilient, because we keep fighting for what we want! We have managed to be elected to political office, earn seats in boardrooms, and make our own decisions based on what is right for us. Unfortunately, I think these freedoms have scared the crap out of a lot of middle-aged white men that hold public office, because they keep trying to roll back the Roe decision, and in general make it harder for women to access birth control, safe abortions, equal pay and equal say, and equal opportunities.  Why is this so important? Again, because when women do not have children to take care of, they can do and pursue what ever passion they want and take control of their own futures. Many men and some women sadly, feel threatened by that freedom. THIS IS ABOUT OUR CHOICE, NOT THEIR CHOICE! 

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Parks and Recreation Image via Tumblr

There is absolutely nothing wrong with women choosing to have a family and to work inside the home, but women should not be made to feel like that is their ONLY choice, or the only RIGHT choice. Studies have proven that women who do not have children can more easily pursue higher eduction and higher positions at work. Access to birth control also leads to an increase in health and happiness within communities.  This autonomy has threatened many an unenlightened man, so they try to roll back the tides of progress through a dogmatic religious approach. States are trying to pass laws on religious grounds, that will make all abortions illegal, even for women who have been raped (Read my additional resources below to find out more). Now, companies can say no to providing birth control to women because it offends their religious ideals? How is that fair? How can you impose your religious views on someone who may not have the same religious views as you? Can your Christian Scientist boss refuse to pay for your family’s health care now, or your kid’s vaccines? Watch out, those floodgates are opening now.  ARE WE IN A DEMOCRACY?

So, we have more overall freedom and autonomy, but less choice on how to conduct our personal health issues! Why? Since everyone (especially male CEO’s) know it is much harder to get (and afford) an education, or sit in the boardroom when you have a family to take care of at home. Why do women have to work extra hard, just to get a seat at the table when [white] men can walk right in?  Also, I can’t even begin to talk about the stigma thrusted upon working moms and how much of the workload at home falls squarely on them alone, so I will have to save that lovely convo for another post. We live in a world that was socially constructed to make life easier for men, and more difficult for women. Was it because men did not think women were capable, or was it because they were scared that women were more than capable?  When we look (and not even closely) we see how much these social constructions of patriarchy are still woven into most institutions (public and private) in the United States. Obviously, women are fully capable of accomplishing anything their male counterparts can; and with more challenges to contend with.  So when male elected officials try to make access to birth control more difficult, think beyond their religious justifications and really see why we (woke men and women) must be united against the female oppression that women and their daughters in the United States still face. Stand up tall ladies and speak up; they won’t hang us anymore! We are the daughters and granddaughters they were unable to burn! 

Thanks for reading,

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Additional Resources: 

Arkansas passes law allowing rapists to sue victims who want an abortion:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/arkansas-abortion-law-that-will-let-rapists-sue-victims-husbands-second-trimester-a7561066.html 

Abortion Statistics: Conducted by the Guttmacher Institute:

https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states 

Birth Control Statistics: Conducted by the Guttmacher Institute:

https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/contraceptive-use-united-states

 

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