Move LifeStyle

Move LifeStyle

Women: Where Do We Stand?

I like to keep my political opinions on the down low. I’m happy to let people know I skew left on social, environmental and human rights, and tend to lean further right when it comes to fiscal and immigration policies. For the most part I try to sit out of heated political debates with people who aren’t immediate family, (or known scrappers like myself, lest it cause rifts). I even steer clear of lawn signs and bumper stickers because the race is so heated and contentious. No matter how sure I am of my position I’d rather not start up with a neighbor in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. However, with the election so close and the two parties so polarized, I’m finding it more and more difficult to hold my tongue.

Perhaps I should preface my comments by saying I love the democratic process and am a bit of a political junkie. Having lived in the US for thirteen years, I’ve only just become a citizen so the upcoming Presidential election will be my first time voting and it really means a lot to me.

I love America but I’m worried about it. I’m worried about the increasing prevalence of “us” and “them”. I’m worried that Universal Healthcare, (which having grown up in Canada, I know to be successful), will fall into a partisan black hole or forever be mired by bad legislation. I’m worried that half the country seems to think environmental concerns are a farce, or worse, a hassle in the race to turn a profit. I’m concerned at the selfish grasping of money and tax loopholes that some of the wealthiest American’s and successful corporate industries are hell-bent on keeping rather than giving back. I’m perturbed there’s talk of returning to the deregulation that took the banking industry so far off the rails, and I’m saddened that we’re still discussing gay marriage and adoption well into the 21st century.

What concerns me most is what’s been breaking my usual silence when it comes to political discussion. It’s not that we’re not moving forward quickly enough on gay rights or clean energy, not that we’re still giving tax credits to big oil or struggling with a clearly broken immigration system.

When did women’s rights come back on the table? Why are they up for debate?

What’s really alarming me is that one major political party is actively proposing moving backwards in regard to rights that have been solidly established for decades. All elections come with hot button issues, but I’ve never been so aware of one party coming down so blatantly on one particular group: Women. When did women’s rights come back on the table? Why are they up for debate? I’m horrified the Republican party is proposing a ban on gay adoption. I’m disappointed that we can’t just accept gay rights as part of our future just as civil rights and race equality have become. Why are we back to debating equal pay for equal work, and the right to have an abortion?

I see the Gay Marriage/Equality as one issue that America will eventually come out on the right side of. The gay community may still be riding the back of the bus, so to speak, but I foresee a future where it’ll be inconceivable it was ever an issue. I’m not nervous that we’re not progressing or turning the tide of ignorance fast enough – change takes time – but I’m incredibly uneasy that there are politicians – current, hopeful country leaders – who propose returning to a time when certain forms of birth control are outlawed and in-vitro fertilization is illegal.

I can’t get my head around it. I can’t understand this frame of mind, and I can’t fathom how any woman, of any political leaning, could be alright with it. These men – and I say that because they are all men – are actively proposing sending the women’s movement back fifty years.

As Bill Clinton pointed out in his DNC speech, no President in the history of the country could have accomplished such a task

Most women who are planning to vote Republican will tell you it’s for one of two reasons: religion or economics. Romney holds the religious power position as his faith is a big part of who he is, both as a man and a candidate. Despite the fact that he’s preaching a theocracy in terms of church and state, and disregarding the fact that America’s first settlers came here so other people’s religions wouldn’t dictate their lives, there are people who feel connected to Romney’s because Romney feels connected to God. As far as economics, the argument is that the Republicans have a better plan to fix the country. In speaking  with people, and reading literature online, it becomes increasingly difficult to explain said plan, with its five points. Most independent economists agree that the current administrations policies could work * if they could get through Congress, but many are  writing off Obama because he has yet to fix the country’s economic problems. Only four years and he hasn’t fixed the worst economic crisis since the great Depression? Is that really a fair criticism? As Bill Clinton pointed out in his DNC speech, no President in the history of the country could have accomplished such a task, but Obama’s being vilified for it. I see it like baking a cake: The current administration has assembled the ingredients, mixed them, and poured them in a pan, but on the way to the oven, the kitchen sink exploded, (oil spill in the Gulf), the kids got in a fight, (wars in the Middle East), and people deliberately stood in front of the oven, (blocking of legislation in Congress with the sole of goal preventing the President from succeeding). Now, half the country’s pissed off that the cake’s not ready. I say let the man get it in the oven. Give it a chance to rise. If you don’t like it once it’s done, then hire a new chef. Don’t stop a process that’s only halfway through, not to the detriment of so many of our social rights. If you really think a business man, (and Romney’s really more of an acquisitions manager than a creator of business), whose career and fortune have been made by dismantling other companies for profit, a man who has zillionaire Super PAC donors bankroll him in order to look out for themselves, a man who believes that working women require flexibility in their jobs so they can go home to cook for their families, who promises to lower taxes, (as well as the deficit), without explaining how is the best person to serve the country, I can’t help argue you’ve got it wrong. The economy, (which is currently sitting in the same place it was when Obama took office as far as unemployment, with more regulations implemented to stave off another crash, and with statistics showing a clear upswing), may be an important issue but does it take precedence over the extremely important social issues that will change the face of the America for decades to come? I’m not sure it does.

Equal pay for equal work. The defunding of Planned Parenthood. The reversal of Roe vs. Wade. The outlaw of IVF. Illegal gay adoption. And that’s not to mention PBS, the virtual abandonment of alternate energy sources, the lifetime cap on medical benefits, (which for someone like me with a chronic disease, will effectively kill me), and the lifetime appointment of the next four Supreme Court justices. These are important issues to keep in mind when deciding your vote. It doesn’t just come down to family values or faith or economics. There’s more at play here.

I don’t care that Romney makes gaffs like saying he goes through “binders full of women,” I care that he can’t say he believes in equal pay for equal work.

In a free country, one’s beliefs should not dictate the decisions of others. Live as you see fit and let others do the same

I care that birth control is covered under your company’s insurance plan, (though I do understand exemptions on religious grounds). I care that women are in charge of their own bodies and choices. No matter where you stand on abortion, the idea that they could be banned – regardless of choice, desire or trauma – is shocking to me. I don’t agree with the hate preached by the Aryan Nation but I defend their right to say it because I believe in Free Speech. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have an abortion. Teach your children abstinence, (and hope they listen to you), but your opinion of what other people should do with their bodies should be irrelevant. In a free country, one’s beliefs should not dictate the decisions of others. Live as you see fit and let others do the same. I don’t believe in abortion as a form of birth control, but no woman should be forced to carry a child to term. In the twenty-first century this should not be up for debate.

I don’t think anyone should have to feel like Penny did in Dirty Dancing. We deserve the right not to be trapped by our government.

I keep thinking back to one of my favorite movies, Dirty Dancing. Set in 1963, the main crisis of the movie hinges on a young woman who has an illegal abortion. It had to be set in the past because at the time the movie was made, (1987), a woman wouldn’t have been put in such a tenuous situation.  The Romney/Ryan ticket actively proposes taking us back to that time. All other issues aside, how is this happening? How did we get to this place? And what are modern women thinking, voting against their personal rights?

I’d love to see more jobs in America and an end to the wars. I’d like to see more money going to public schools and an increase in training for new tech and manufacturing jobs. I’m against Super PACs and the corporate buying of elections. I’d like to see our forests and parks protected and more research and development for alternate fuel sources. I think the rich could pay more taxes, but I also don’t think it’s their job to give away their money to pay for lower class entitlements. I think our social security system should be adjusted to deal with inflation and increased life span and I think Medicare is an important tool in caring for our aging population. My opinions don’t fall simply on one side of the fence or the other. I’m able to see both sides of a debate. I may skew Democratic, but there are aspects of my beliefs that run Green, Independent and Republican. When it comes right down to it though, no matter where I stand on every other issue, I believe this Pandora’s box of women’s issues can NOT be opened.

We seem to have lost all sense of middle ground.
Image courtesy of

We teach our children that everyone is equal,

We teach our children that everyone is equal, that girls are as good as boys, that you shouldn’t hate people and lying is bad, but grown-up politics is tells a different story.

that girls are as good as boys, that you shouldn’t hate people and lying is bad, but grown-up politics is tells a different story. The current conversation highlights that everyone isn’t equal, that girls might not be worth as much boys, that blind hate is patriotic and lying and bullying gets you ahead. The Constitution of the United States, the country I proudly became a citizen of this year, dictates that everyone has the right to expect Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. If the Republican ticket is elected to the Presidency, women can kiss those essential and inalienable rights goodbye. I don’t believe our liberty should become secondary to other’s beliefs, nor should our happiness be irrelevant in the face of a cause.

I step away from the sidelines of political debate to implore all women in America to see this issue for the slippery slope it is. We can’t move backwards to a time of inequality and intolerance where our ‘daddys’ make our decisions. We must be informed and stand up for the rights that belong to us. Even if you’re adamantly Pro-Life, you have to see that making abortions illegal is merely exchanging one injustice for another.

Without our choices what are we?

*Glamour Magazine, Election special November 2012 p. 78


Author Description

Leigh McGowan

Born in Toronto, Canada, Leigh was a working actress in NYC until she married an actor and settled in LA. Deciding there were one too many actors in the family she now works as a portrait photographer and writer. She is the mother of a four year old son and has been living with pulmonary hypertension, a rare and currently incurable lung disease, since 2008. Her blog In Case I'm Gone has garnered enough attention since it's 2011 launch to soon become a published memoir.

  • Izzie
    Personnally, I love Obama, he’s a great and good president!!!! :) :) He’s better that mine….. Yes he can be the President again! ^^
  • Steve
    Out of deference to your relationship with your son, I will withhold my original comment with one caveat… I hope for your family’s sake you consider voting for Romney. I would hope you can see that the trashing of the US healthcare system can only negatively affect your family and future… Listen to Margaret Thatcher… She was right on the money with her comment on Socialism. It is completely incompatible with the US Constitution. If I find a way to send you a message directly I will send what I wrote.
  • Pingback: Women, Please Vote! It's Election Day.()

Move LifeStyle is an e-zine for the modern working woman created by Autumn Reeser, Jenn Wong and Ashley Fauset.

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