Where Are the Women?
Yes, indeed! This is a question that we’ve been asking for years, not just this last week. Where are the women in positions of power? Where are the Congresswomen? Where are female Senators, Governors, Presidential Chiefs-of-Staff? The list goes on and on.
“Where are the women?” is what Rep. Carolyn Maloney called out to Chairman Darrell Issa, Chair of the House Oversight Committee last Thursday. His Committee was scheduled to hear testimony about the Administration’s decision to require employers to offer their female employees contraception coverage in their insurance plans. Chairman Issa, never one to miss a chance to beat a conservative drum, wasn’t asking any questions about contraception. No. No. He and his GOP cohorts were focused on the employers who would have to foot the insurance bill and who believe that contraception runs contrary to God’s will. (In the current century this means conservative and fundamentalist religious leaders, most particularly, but not exclusively, Roman Catholic.)
Issa had gathered an all-male panel of religious leaders and scholars to testify about their religious beliefs against contraception. The Democratic Committee members attempted to seat a female law student who wished to testify about the important uses of some contraceptive drugs for women’s health beyond preventing conception. Issa would not seat her.
At that point, it was clear to all that no women would be heard in the first round of testimony--and let us remember that it is the first round that gets heavy press coverage--so Maloney, along with Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and ranking Minority Democrat Elijah Cummings, walked out in protest, leaving both the floor and the mikes to the group of conservative male religious leaders and professors. Before leaving, Maloney cried out the famous, “Where are the women?”
Maloney and Norton captured the news cycle for a second and a half. Maloney’s question was even headlined on some interesting essays in the next two days. However, the interest quickly blew away. The sorry fact is that the question still stands unanswered, unheeded and, by now, forgotten by the msm.
Where are the women’s voices today? With Conservative GOP Presidential hopefuls elbowing each other aside to be the Top Voice of Sexism, there is now, more than ever, a need for a strong, clear feminist response. As Eve Ensler reminded us in the on-line Reader Supported News, [Here] “Today, one out of three women in the world--more than 1 billion women--will be raped or beaten. As economies collapse and the 99 per cent struggle with less and less, . . . the violence against women and girls increases. They become targets. They become commodities, sold in many places for less than a cell phone.”
No, most women in America aren’t being raped or beaten, thank heaven, but we continue to be marginalized, which is a form of spiritual violence. What is so difficult about this for most men to understand? How could Darrell Issa even think of excluding all women from his initial panel about religious consciences and contraception?
And where is the ongoing outrage? We dare not forget Carolyn Maloney’s shout and question. It still hasn’t been answered . . .