Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Daddy State

This is a transcript of my remarks, given today at the Unite Against the War on Women in NH rally on April 28, at the State House in Concord:

Conservatives, especially in NH, love to throw around the term “nanny state.” Generally speaking, anything that involves legislation that protects people (food labeling, professional licensing, seat belt wearing, non-smoking in restaurants/bars, drunk driving laws -(you get the idea) is labeled as “nanny stateism.” “Nanny state” must be said with a Randian sneer. The implication is that pesky liberals want to micromanage your life, force political correctness upon you, and prevent you from allowing your kids to play dodge ball and feeding them deep-fried Twinkies for breakfast.

It’s been my experience that whenever the far right tosses terms like this around, what they’re REALLY doing is projecting their own behavior on to others. Sure they love to bleat about FREEDOM and LIBERTY, but as soon as anything even remotely related to the freedoms of any group NOT comprised of white male, heterosexuals comes up, we see how invested in freedom they really are.

Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen an increase in authoritarian laws. Protestors can now be sequestered in so-called “free speech zones.” Security personnel can feel you and your children up at the airport, all the while telling us this is necessary for our safety and security. We can be wiretapped without our knowledge. We’ve seen NH become the only state in the union to actually decide to USE the death penalty, as opposed to ending the death penalty, which many states are doing.

In the last 2 years, we’ve seen the NH legislature eager to regulate women’s bodily autonomy, by attempting to limit access to both abortion and affordable birth control. We’ve seen that same legislature attempt to strike down NH’s marriage equality law. Apparently the silly women and homosexuals of NH need Big Daddy to make our decisions for us. That’s why I mentioned projection. They complain about the nanny state, while initiating something far more sinister: The Daddy State.

Daddy is an authoritarian, a stern patriarch who wants to set the rules, and punish the girls when they’re bad. 

It's Daddy who must make the rules for our reproductive decisions. After all, left to our own devices we might continue to use birth control and choose not to have children so that we can have careers - and even run for political office! Women might actually choose to continue to compete with men!

The Daddy Staters don't like that. Daddy Staters know what's right for silly girlies.

Last year, Executive Councilor Ray Wieczorek voted against funding for Planned Parenthood in NH. At the time, he said: "I am opposed to providing condoms to someone. If you want to have a party, have a party but don't ask me to pay for it." Councilor Wieczorek stated that he was opposed to abortion. Planned Parenthood provides mammograms and pap tests. Apparently the health of the incubator is of no concern to Wieczorek - who, by the way, wisely chose not to run for re-election.

Rush Limbaugh, one of the Stern Patriarchs of the Daddy State gave voice to what many didn't dare to say, when he called college student Sandra Fluke a slut for testifying before Congress about the importance of birth control. Somehow, in Rush's drug addled brain, Fluke's testimony on how birth control is used as a treatment for some serious medical conditions, turned into a demand that the gubmint give her excessive amounts of free birth control. The Daddy State Patriarchs know that only bad girls have sex, and bad girls must be punished. They think forced incubation is an appropriate punishment.

That the Daddy Staters want to cut every safety net program that would help women and children tells you all you really need to know about how deep their concern for the unborn really is. Once that little nipper hits the chute, it’s pick yourself up by your bootie straps time.

We saw the Daddy State go wild when CNN pundit Hilary Rosen commented that Mitt Romney’s advisor on how to speak to women…his wife had never worked a day in her life. What Ms. Rosen meant was that Mrs. Romney had never worked outside the home. In the ensuing backlash and round of apologies, the most important part of the discussion failed to occur.

Certainly anyone who has been a mother knows how hard it is. Mrs. Romney had 5 boys. I know how hard I struggled with only one girl. Feminism has always been about giving women choices: reproductive choice certainly, but also the choice to go to school, join the military, work outside the home, or be a stay at home mom. Ann Romney was lucky that being a stay at home mom was a choice for her. Unfortunately she’s completely tone deaf when it comes to that.

Ann Romney never had to worry about how she was going to pay the electric bill or the rent. She didn’t have to agonize over how to stretch the groceries till payday, health insurance, or how on earth she was going to get new shoes for the kids. Most moms have to worry about money. Ann Romney never did. She is married to an incredibly wealthy man. Her failure to acknowledge that is – for me anyway – the most irritating thing about her. Wealth is the best insulation there is. Not only will you never be cold, you’ll also never have to even consider what life is like for those who lack insulation of any sort.

And Mitt is a Daddy. He wants to regulate women’s reproduction for them. He wants to cut the kind of safety net programs that help low-income women and their children stay afloat.

In fact, Mitt, while Governor of Massachusetts proposed raising the required number of work hours for people on welfare so that they could have “the dignity of work.” In NH, Mitt had this to say:

"I wanted to increase the work requirement," … " even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, 'Well that's heartless.' And I said, 'No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.'"

Apparently wealthy white women are born with an innate sense of dignity. When they stay home with the kids its hard work – but doing the right thing for the children. When low-income women stay home with the kids, it’s because they’re lazy.

The Daddy State has no real concern for women or children. They just want to govern them.

Birth control has been the big game changer for women. It ensured that anatomy was no longer destiny, and allowed women to pursue careers, including political ambitions. We hear the representatives of the Daddy State frequently express a desire to “take our country back.” I bet I’m not the only one who shivers a little when I hear that phrase. Perhaps I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale too many times.

The lesson for all of us is this: Constant vigilance is the price of women’s equality. Somewhere along the way we may have thought we’d won, that we didn’t have to fight these battles any more. We were wrong about that.

No matter how much the right wing media smirks and denounces the very idea of a war on women – women know it’s true. And we must fight back, harder than ever. One of the easiest ways to fight back is at the ballot box. Women fought and died to give us the right to vote – and we have a responsibility to honor them by VOTING!
We need to encourage women to run for office, and support them when do. We must also support the men who believe in equality - because as the old bumper sticker says: Men of Quality Support Women's Equality!

We must also speak out against injustice, even when it makes us uncomfortable.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of my favorite suffragists. She said a lot of smart things, but this is one of my favorites, and the thought I leave you with, today:

“The best protection any woman can have... is courage. “

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I recently read a comment on Huffington Post that said that all young people in America should learn fluently a foreign language, set up if possible a bank account in that country and become absolutely familiar with whichever foreign country they choose. Soon, they may be forced to uproot and leave for that country in order to avoid draconian, highly invasive and frightening big government measures forced on us by a right wing party that declares to hate just that. Have no idea what's happening to the minds of people in this nation, but we are headed for a terrible place. The ox wagons are circling and it appears we are headed backwards in time to pioneer days and the wild west. Welcome to the new WestWorld.