In the early 70s, I attended an international conference on women in Mexico City. It was a learning experience for a lifetime. I was with a different woman or group of women at every meal, every session, every break. I took every opportunity I had to be in touch with women of different nations and different cultures. It was a chance to peek into the depth of our beings. They were women just like me and totally different from me. But the differences lay mostly in where we were born. That fact governed most of our experiences. But even poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of freedom, or severe hardship could not totally erase our dreams and visions as women. At the depth of our beings, we all wanted and needed the same things: food: shelter; clothing and necessities for our families or the children around us; opportunities for our children to be all they could be; a safe place for our families; opportunities to provide for family and community needs; and to live in peace and freedom with equal opportunity for ourselves and, more intensely, for our children.
And now it’s 2012.
It’s that time again. The political commentary and political diatribe about how women will vote is at a fever pitch. The gender gap discussion is with us again. Many seem to think they know what makes us tick. Others seem to think that if they just say the magic words, we will think the way they do.
I am really tired of the constant barrage about reproductive rights. Is that all there is in the minds of those who continue to argue about who women are? Our reproductive life is not all that we are about. For every decision about our reproductvie life that we make in a day, we make hundreds of decisions about other things.
We go about our days thinking about food, what to wear, where we work, where we go to school, about transportation, about life decisions, our recreation, church or the library, the store or the theater. We think about the sunrise, the sunset, the clouds, the rain, the beach, the mountains, and the beauty of the landscape. Add the museum, the trip abroad, or no money for a trip, new curtains or blinds, hunger, thirst, not enough food to feed our children, the dentist, the doctor, the sport practices, music lessons of our kids, the meetings of the week, the apartment, the house, the hungry children, war and peace.
We could fill several pages! Our years, our months, our days, our minutes, and our seconds are filled with all kinds of decisions–decisions dependent upon how old we are, who we are, where we are, what our visions are, where we live, and where and who our parents are or were.
Why then, do all of you folks arguing about how we will vote think our major interest is our reproductive rights? Why do you think that you; have such a hot political issue?
Speak to us about our future and the future of our children, whether we have enough to eat, what the price of gas is, whether or not we will have an America where our young can dream, whether we have schools that allow our learners to develop to the top of their God-given talents. Speak to us about the choices available to us and our neighbors because we have good jobs, and because our schools and universities are places that prepare our people for jobs and professions that are viable for this day and the future.
Speak to us. Let us know that you think we are more than our reproductive organs and our reproductive rights. We are whole. We are women. We have talents and wisdom and energy and courage and compassion and humanity. Yes, and when you check out my record, you will see that I have spent much time and energy promoting the status of women, energizing education for equality of opportunity for boys and girls, speaking and consulting on limiters placed on boys and girls, and on men and women. When you minimize one sex, you minimize the other. Speak to us about our humanness, our wholeness.
Yes, you can convince some that a major issue in this campaign is the war on women relative to reproductive rights. I say to you that the real war on women is about the millions of women who live in poverty. It’s on the families that have been destroyed because the single mom can get more welfare money without the husband in the house. It’s on all the moms filling up their gas tanks this morning. It’s about all the young women who graduated from college last year who can’t find jobs. It’s on the girls and young women in a failed educational system.
We have the right to choose what we do with our reproductive systems. It is the rights for all the other important things that I am thinking about when I cast my vote. Because it’s the great freedoms in my country that guarantee all the things I make choices about each day, I will vote for those who understand the exceptionality of my country. I will vote for those who want to make America First, Again. It is those candidates who will preserve my freedom, my rights, and yes, my reproductive rights.