Devaluing Women and Blocking Their Autonomy

GOP war on women.

The theocratic Gilead of The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) devalued and disempowered women and forced them from the public sphere.

It all happened gradually… drip, drip…

Mirroring what some in the (probably more fundamentalist Christian branch of the) Republican party try to do today.

Like their fight against birth control, which keeps women in the home and dependent, as we’ve seen.

But there’s more. Here’s a sampler:

Child marriage in New Hampshire

In March New Hampshire Republicans voted against raising the legal age of marriage to 18. Under current law girls as young as 13 can marry in NH with the consent of a parent and permission from a judge.

What 13-year-old really understands what she’s getting into with marriage?

And marrying young is disempowering because we are dependent and manipulable at such a young age.

Unequal pay in Utah

Utah has the second-biggest wage gap between women and men (only Bible Belt Louisiana is worse). And one Utah legislator recently argued that women should get less pay than men.

Wasatch County GOP Vice-Chair, James C. Green insists men deserve higher pay because:

  • Men are the primary breadwinner so they need more money.

Women never provide for their children? My divorced mom did.

  • If women got equal pay, companies would have to pay men less! And then men wouldn’t be able to support their families by themselves

Clearly, Mr. Green feels that women are second-class citizens who should be dependent and not independent.

And they should be home, not in the public sphere.

Women should be seen but not heard in the US Senate

Apparently women should be seen but not heard in the US Senate.

When Senator Elizabeth Warren read the words of another woman — a letter by Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell infamously silenced her. That was pretty much the only time such a censure has been made.

Women should “dress like women” says Trump

Donald J Trump insist that women who work at the White House should dress like women.

Combat boots like women soldiers wear?

Trump is a traditionalist so he’s probably talking skirts and pumps.

Women “dressing like women” may seem trivial, but it sends a message that privileges men.

  • Men get more comfortable clothing — pumps are not comfortable. And skirts are drafty in colder seasons.
  • Suits allow more freedom than skirts, which leave women monitoring themselves for modesty.
  • Women’s clothing choices are dictated by men, helping women to get accustomed to being controlled by men.
  • It’s easier to put men on top if you emphasize gender differences. Viva la difference.

The Republican Convention was hostile to women

Trump’s Republican Convention was also hostile and insulting to women with calls of “Lock her up!” and “Trump that bitch!” or “Trump can grab my pussy!”

Unfortunately, women often unconsciously internalize misogyny and join in. Just as the women of Gilead did.

The Jakarta Handmaid’s Tale

In other parts of the world countries like Jakarta, Indonesia are also looking more and more like a realization of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Jakarta is majority Islamic yet has leaned toward gender-equal democracy until recently, as Islamic fundamentalists make inroads.

To paraphrase the New York Times:

Their High Court recently struck down a law allowing the federal government to invalidate discriminatory local laws, like those regulating morality or women’s behavior.

Since 1998 more than 440 local ordinances have been adopted imposing elements of Islamic Shariah law… What the Islamists have in mind already exists in Aceh Province, on the northern tip of Sumatra.

Over the years, the law has become increasingly strict: Women are required to dress modestly, alcohol is mostly banned, and adultery and homosexuality are punishable by public caning. The morality police roam the province, scouring hotel rooms and beaches for immoral behavior and ordering people to go to mosques and pray.

It all happened gradually… drip, drip…

Whether in the US or Jakarta, women and the men who love them must be more assertive in demanding their rights!

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 8, 2017, in sexism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I’ve already created a tee shirt that shows a picture of her–when she dressed down the bankster CEOs–and above it, applied the phrase, “NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED.”

    Beneath the picture I added, “Elizabeth Warren for President 2020.”

    I do love that woman! I read her book, A Fighting Chance. I’m convinced that she knows more about the economy and how it is rigged than most, if not all Republicans.

    But, then again, perhaps the Republicans know exactly what supply-side economics is doing and what the effect would be if they succeed in abolishing public education. A more ignorant society is easier to control with propaganda and religion, and can keep them in power, keep redistributing the collective wealth of the workers upward to the already wealthy, put women and darker skin people back in “their place” and provide industry with a much larger, cheap workforce.

    I think that the only thing that could reverse this sinking, rigged and unjust system is to elect a progressive Congress and White House via left wing populism–ala Sanders and Warren.

    I’m afraid, however, that it is too late. I hope I’m wrong, but I see that the conservative strategy to radically divide the nation by sowing fear and hate has worked so well that the most powerful cannonballs of evidence, fact and reason will not even scratch the religious and/or political, fundamentalist walls of almost half the nation. Grrr!

    • “Republicans know exactly what supply-side economics is doing and what the effect would be if they succeed in abolishing public education. A more ignorant society is easier to control with propaganda and religion.”

      Yes, Trump loves the uneducated.

      I worry that workers keep voting against their interests.

  2. When it comes to marriage, I don’t think anyone should get married until they are in their 30s, since that gives them the opportunity to experience life and you have a pretty good idea of what a person in their 30s is like, unlike a 20 year old. Given that statement, easily to tell what I think of laws that would permit a 13 year-old to marry. I wonder if someone in their early 20s even understands what they are getting into. Small wonder the divorce rates in the USA are so high and it is starting to be an excepting to see a woman with children, who is married or even divorced.

    It is too bad moderates don’t have a party, liberal left and conservative right. But on the plus side, moderates do determine the outcomes of the USA Presidential elections.

    • US vs French election showed that right-wing dictator wannabes don’t succeed when moderates unite against extremists. But how they can succeed when right-wing moderates join the right wing. I’m hoping that going forward Moderates can be more united in the US.

  3. Some of the statements that come out of the mouths of legislators in this country are just astounding. During the women’s march in Washington, one county politician in New Jersey was quoted as speculating about whether they’d be home in time to make dinner. In the aftermath his doorstep was flooded with take-out menus.

    • I wonder why he thought that would be helpful?

      And If movement toward the reality of the Handmaids Tale hadn’t already happened in real life, and wasn’t happening strongly, like in some places in Indonesia, I wouldn’t be so freaked out.

  4. Is there also a problem though of being too “liberal” with thinking of what would be good, but more idealistic than realistic and this causes people to be so scared of not offending or not too scared to not be pc or anything that could seem ‘anti-muslim” even if being cautious and such helps. No, I’m not talking about what Trump wants, but I’m talking about the opposite direction with sweden. We talked about it before, but you even said that the birthrate is higher of muslims than swedish people. The rape percentage has increased there, though some of it is from more reporting. But still stats showed muslim men or that descenet in sweden were 80% the perpertrators of rapes or assaults. So if there is just logically a chance for it to bump up when you have more fundementislt men and that population increase who don’t respect women compared to swedish men brought up in more egalatrian culture. You talk about handsmade tale, what you think could happen to sweden when muslims become majority of Swedwn, coming from fundamentalist countries in middel east and though not being terrorits or not saying that of course, but having such values, what do you think they are going to do in regrards to women or gays? Women in sweden had more freedom was far as less sex objects and the topless sunbathign that wasn’t a big deal there and more liberal views with women and their bodies. If things change with muslims being majority what do you think will happen? Women will probalby have to not just cover up but covered up good.

    And all the other rights, especiallly if population becomes a majority there would be a good chance the Swedish government would be taken over by muslims leaders and president or leader probably a muslim fudementalist. That sounds depressing to me and sometimes the negative side of liberalism. I know the bad of conservative trust me, I’ve seen trumps and all this BS from the GOP. But i see people on this side and others on that side. Conservative and liberal. Like it sounds cliche, but I swear you and others should be “in the middle”. That’s what I am with views. It gives you a good objective view and for what is the best solution. My view has always been on what would seem best for everybody or as much as possible. Conservative views can fuck many people over with enviroment and rights, but sometimes liberal one’s either do this or don’t look at reality or may help disadvantaged but step on the toes of hard working middle class people or others in the same sense. I do agree that more often it is worse with the conservative ways, but there are liberal things that irritate me too. I personally believe, America would be better if people had balance in their views. My conservative friends too often are all this and unbending with their conservative views and seen no wrong or refuse too when there is plenty wrong and same for liberals when some things aren’t right. When you’re in the middle, you aren’t blinded by your “team allegiance” and cause and just see things as they are and how they help or hurt overall. I think America would be better if more people were in the middle area with. When it comes to social views, I bounce both ways, depending on what it is.

    • Well the Swedes have become aware of this problem and are trying to deal with it in a different way. Instead of a Muslim ban they are working to teach all immigrants their values of recognizing the worth and dignity of each person and recognizing the value of all of us, and moving people away from attitudes marked by male dominance. I listen to the speech of the new French President and he wants to make sure that Muslims are incorporated into the society instead of standing outside of it, and not left with high unemployment rates, which creates anger and alienation. I hope he’s successful.

      A Muslim ban would backfire anyway, radicalizing young people into terrorism – because it sends the same message that ISIL is trying to send them.

      I worry Trump is actually trying to use a Muslim ban to incite terrorism so that Americans will get scared and allow the removal of our rights as we create a military dictatorship with him as head.

      • Muslim ban they are working to teach all immigrants their values of recognizing the worth and dignity of each person and recognizing the value of all of us, and moving people away from attitudes marked by male dominance. I listen to the speech of the new French President and he wants to make sure that Muslims are incorporated into the society instead of standing outside of it, and not left with high unemployment rates, which creates anger and alienation. I hope he’s successful.”

        But will that work? Didn’t they think or hope muslims would assimilate to their values, but they haven’t thus far? People really hold on to the values they’ve grown up with even if they are bad or conservative. So I wonder if they will even with that attempt and if it doesn’t, if things can go bad and then have all these people who refuse to assimilate and have Swedish values. Hopefully Sweden and Europe have a well thought out plan with finding work and helping with employment with muslims. Because they took in more muslims than they could provide for, so I don’t know what they will do to set up jobs and such for the surplus of muslims they have in relation to the sources they have for such population. Some small countries can’t handle that much, because it’s a small country and a big population surge can strip them thin like Sweden.

        And yes What Trump is doing is bad. His challenge to the 1st amendement is scary too. Challening the press which represents our freedom of speech and if you lose that, then that’s where dictatorship can come from as president controlled information would be all propganda. The healthcare that just came up, which trump touted obamacare is bad and this and that, well his stupid healthcare is worse than obamacare and crap. I mean not only does this pre existing illness not covered by insurances which hurt women and BS with post partum depression, domestic violence, there are some other things too. But arthristis which many people have, I have autoimmune issues and I’d be SOL if not for being employed luckily by a good job and have health insurance, but so many people with medical problems who will be less covered than they were before
        . Ironically the same people who voted, especially elderly, who voted for trump can and will suffer from this healthcare. I know some people can be spiteful and think, well that’s the karma on these people. But that’s a bad way of thinking, because being spiteful is always a dangerous road to go down, because then one’s heat becames filled with revenge rather than empathy and compassion. But it’s not good.

      • Sweden is making more of an effort now then they had in the past.

        Immigration bans won’t stop terrorism, it will just radicalize and create terrorists among people who are already here or there (Europe). Better to better-integrate immigrants into society, I believe.

  5. Really unfortunate, to say the least. The world’s oldest democracy, still largely tethered to donkey and elephant emblems, appears to be asinine in its archaism and elephantine in its capacity for botch-ups. While the US and UK seem to be losing the plot, France with new star in the horizon in the form of Emmanuel Macron, is surely leading the way, not only for EU but rest of the world as well.

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