For too long, violence or the threat of violence has been the accepted means for men to keep "their" women and children under control, particularly if the wife's behavior was "out of line." If you follow the Republican's regressive rhetoric carefully, ALL women are to be treated as subservient wife and the only men who get to play the role of domineering dad are white, straight, men who think they have lost their birthright to be in charge of home, commerce and country. They lay blame for a country in shambles squarely at the feet of "out of line" women: "femi-nazis," welfare moms, immigrant women, corporate bitches, lesbians, single moms and those political women who by their mere presence have made Congress and the White House too "fem-centric."
We have an opportunity on April 9 to reject this misogynistic vision and condemn the use and tolerance of violence as the central strategy of oppression, that keeps women from achieving full civil and economic equality.
Anti-abortion fanatics are the most obvious oppressors waging a war of domestic terrorism against women, but they are not alone. Every time Rush Limbaugh calls feminists "femi-nazis" it makes activist women less sympathetic targets of violence. Every time a man who batters or kills his wife gets off with a slap on the wrist the message reverberates loud and clear that corporal punishment for a wife or girlfriend who "steps out of line" is not really a crime -- just a family matter. And every time Newt Gingrich blames poor women for the violence that is destroying their children or the economic deprivation that is perpetrated upon them he sends a tidal wave of anger and fear through the hearts of women and men who are themselves just one pay check away from poverty.
The backlash against women is now institutionalized in Congress, with a few new anti-feminist women sycophants on the Hill themselves going so far as to declare they are not "femi-nazis." Government funding for relatively new programs supporting women's health, economic well-being and physical safety is under attack. The programs in jeopardy include: research money for breast and cervical cancer; funding for mammography and family planning; funding to implement the Violence Against Women Act; nutritional programs for pregnant women, infants and children; food stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children; school lunch and immunization programs; and even the minimum wage.
The Rally for Women's Lives April 9 is the first national mobilization against the violence and the war on women. It is imperative that the true majority of this country stand and be counted as we serve notice to Newt and his good-old- boys-town cronies everywhere that "We Won't Go Back!" We will fight back.
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