When the United States arrived in Europe to combat Adolf Hitler’s brutal regime during World War II, one of the most precious casualties of war were women. 400,000 thousand of us were used and mistreated in an effort to “comfort” Japanese soldiers. These comfort women were lured from their homes, kidnapped, and forced into unpaid prostitution. Some of the victims were held at gunpoint and brutally raped repeatedly while others were hogtied and tortured for pleasure. Even after the war ended and Japanese government apologized for this harsh mistreatment of women, the emotional and physical scars remained.
In 2012, women are still oppressed, though the method of suppression is much different. The war on women and our reproductive rights is thriving without a measurable solution in sight. Harmful legislative initiatives and policies are being proposed in the United States’ Congress. All of these tyrannical measures, including the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the redefinition of rape, are designed to inhibit women and suppress our freedoms.
According to Karen Teegarden, founder of UniteWomen.org, legislation that impacts women and our reproductive rights have been passed in the 112th United States Congress and in numerous states with Republican-controlled legislatures. In 2011, state legislatures enacted 135 provisions affecting women’s reproductive rights.
From the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which redefined rape to exclude statutory rape, to the proposal to pass legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, the assault on women is real. There has also been a budget proposal to cut $758 million from WIC, which provides federal assistance to low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, and several proposed bills that define personhood at specific gestational periods during pregnancy. These despotic legislative acts should have women questioning what it is that we can do to protect our bodies from governmental interference.
According to ABC News, on April 28, UniteWomen.org organized marches in 55 cities to protest the war on women. Though there were thousands in attendance, media coverage was sparse. Our fight for ownership of our wombs wasn’t considered important enough for coverage on local and national news stations. Yes, the war on women is a hot button political issue and will be debated often between now and November, it extends much deeper than the 2012 Presidential election. Without our voices, we as women will be stripped of the womanhood rights that Susan B. Anthony, Julia Ward Howe, Lucy Stone, and others fought and died for during the Women’s Suffrage Movement and beyond.
Feminism and womanism developed out of the disregard for women and our voices. What will evolve from this blatant assault? That question lingers, but our need to get involved should not. If we send letters to our elected officials that explain our position on laws that impact us, support organizations fighting for our rights, and vote against these brutal legislation, we can have a significant impact. We do not have to be comfort women. The tools for fighting oppression are in our grasp. Use them! Your womanhood depends on it.
Cross-published on NAACPConnect.org