Pawns in the Game

Hello everyone. It’s me again. Okay, you don’t have to read that so dispondantly. Let’s try again with some pep in that mental reading voice. Hello! I’m back!

Much better.

Now we can get down to business.

There is a great deal of concern about Trumpaloompa’s Supreme Court Justice pick, Brett Kavanaugh. Some have been familiar with fighting his work for some time, while others met the announcement with a big round of, “who?” Well, if you aren’t familiar with him and are currently curled up in a ball with your favorite blanky and stuffed animal whispering, “Please be a dream. Let me wake up,” over and over again, begging the universe as a whole that you’ve been stuck in a coma-induced nightmare for the last year and half, then let me sum up Brett for you. Bad. Bad choice for women. Bad choice for LGBT. Bad choice for voting rights. Bad choice for if you would like our nation to remain a democracy that holds every person accountable to the law, up to and including the President of the United States. So, bad if you don’t want to rubber stamp four years of dictatorship after every election. But we are going to focus on the first one today. Okay, not just Bad. The bad for women one. But not in the way you think.

I’m not going to be here to bash old Brett today. He’s a crappy, ultra-conservative, far outside the mainstream, Republican. Just exactly what we would expect from a Trump pick.  We would be having this discussion about basically anyone the Ultra-Conservative, Religious Right throws our way. And that is kinda the point. The Right Wing Conservatives are not the only bad guys in this article.

Suddenly, once again, and with ever-increasing zeal, the Right has been pushing hard against women’s rights. We have seen so many attacks both through this administration and the policies they have proffered and from the empowered conservative minority. Exactly as we should have expected, and most of us did.

But who is to blame? Well, to some degree, we are. Whoa! Did I just say that? Oh, yeah, I did. Why would I say such a thing? Well, because we settled for good enough. We settled for a Supreme Court Ruling to guarantee our reproductive rights. We have had since January 22, 1973 to establish something more permanent; to guarantee our rights to our own bodies. But instead of pushing for this, we put our trust in a court, in a court whose justices would change over years, in a court where the decision could be challenged again and overturned. We left our rights thrown into the turmoil and unsolidified body of political whims. We have been political pawns for both sides of this coin.

“Both sides?” You might ask. Yes. Many minority groups have won their freedoms initially in the courts. But did they leave their freedom bound to that decision, alone? No. We enacted constitutional amendments to safeguard them. Now, women are not exactly a minority group, are they? No, they are roughly half the population. What women ‘are’ is a subjugated half the population continually told we must depend on someone to safeguard our precious, human rights or those rights could be swept away. And far more easily than they were established.

Women have been as much pawns to the Democrats as they have to Republicans. Election after election, for more than forty-five years we have witnessed Republicans playing fictitious heartstrings claiming they want to protect babies, when all they really want is to implement their so-called Biblical ideologies into the bedrock of our laws and keep firmly women in their place in our patriarchal society. But what did the Dems do, you ask? Well, their actions, in reality, are almost as bad. They have used women’s reproductive rights as part of their talking points, making it a part of their party platform to gain female votes. They encourage women to vote for them to ensure their rights are “safeguarded.” But they did not push, and keep pushing, for the only thing that could really protect a woman’s right to autonomy: a constitutional amendment.

Approximately 80% of the United States supports a woman’s freedom of reproductive choice, including abortion of non-viable fetuses, plan B, birth control, and voluntary sterilization. Almost everyone would be horrified at the thought of having to disclose their sexual activity, measures of birth control or reproductive procedures on an employment application. We have laws safeguarding the medical history and treatment of individuals which prevent employers from accessing medical records and/or using it as a determination for employment, and the potential employee must only disclose disabilities which might prevent them from being capable of performing the tasks required for the position. Those disclosures are a safety issue where people could be harmed. For instance, if you are blind, then you probably shouldn’t be a pizza delivery driver. If you have seizures, then you might not should work in a Discotheque.

But there is no equivocation between an illness or condition which could potentially result in injury or death and the reproductive choices of a woman made between her and her doctor. The latter has no affect on the employer nor other employees. But the Democratic Party has used Choice as a rally cry to charge women into repetitive battles to keep their rights. They kept us teetering on a high wire act with the constant threat of falling and no safety net.

Now we are about to fall and go splat. Thanks a lot.

But they aren’t rights, are they? I mean, they should be, but they aren’t. Women do not have freedom. Inalienable rights are something that can’t be taken away by a Supreme Court Justice, or any court. They are protected. And they do not need the election of a particular party to safeguard them. There have been plenty of opportunities to push these demands forward, to change the dialogue, and to make equality a priority. But where have they done this? Instead, they have acted in defense, constantly. While I can appreciate attempting to defend our rights, it is not the same thing as ensuring them. The truth is that the Republicans benefit from attacking women’s reproductive rights by espousing religious dogma and the Democrats benefit from the constant attack by scaring women into action. Why should the Left change this tactic if it works to energize women into voting for them? It is a built in money-maker.

It is the fact that women are still fighting the battle for autonomy of their own bodies, something men have without question, which says we are not equal. We are still second class citizens with almost, but not quite, the same rights as men.

I’m certainly not saying to discard your ballots. Nor am I suggesting to vote for those who would take your freedoms and throw them away. But we need to hold those we elect to a higher accountability. We need this fight to happen. The fact is that should Trumpster’s pick -Bretty-boy- be confirmed, the only hope for women to overcome this mess and establish any meaningful permanence to reproductive freedom will be through amending the constitution. It is the one thing no court can change.

Oh, and LGBT, you are probably next. Your rights to non discrimination, to marriage, to adoption, to your employer staying out of your sex life, those are on the chopping block, too. Any freedoms safeguarded by the Supreme Court decisions of the past are not set in stone. Those freedoms are illusions, as easily, more easily in fact, swept away as they were established.

We can no longer afford to be pawns in these political power games. Our freedoms and rights are not prizes, nor gifts. If we are going to be forced to fight, yet again, we must fight for something more than simply staying an execution. We must fight for permanence. We must fight the most difficult battle, and win it, to ensure our daughters won’t have to fight it, and theirs again.

This is a game of chess, no doubt, but we must stop allowing ourselves to be the pawns of those seeking power, when in truth, we are more powerful, we are strong; we are queens.

Resist. Fight. Demand better.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

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