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We Are The Women

Memo Pad

We Are The Women


For the past week, the front section of The New York Times‘ Dec. 28 issue has been sitting on my kitchen counter in Ohio, growing increasingly crinkled from use and sprinkled with circles, arrows and the occasional exclamation point.

The recent wave of anti-choice legislation in my state and across the country has made me keenly aware of attacks on women in America. Perhaps that is why I was so drawn to the Times’ stunning chronicle of women’s lives. I still can be astonished by how regularly the target of masculine rage is women.

From Somalia: A rape victim, draped in long folds of soft gray fabric, stood alone in a room, her face buried in her hands. She is one of thousands of women and girls being gang-raped and abused by militants who seize them as the spoils of a “holy war.”

From Cairo: An administrative judge ruled that the Egyptian military violated female demonstrators’ human rights by forcing them to undergo “virginity tests” meant to humiliate them.

From Israel: An 8-year-old girl whose parents are Orthodox Jews was terrified of walking to school, after ultra-Orthodox men spat on her and called her a prostitute because her modest dress failed to meet their more rigid dress code. The incident ignited outrage in Israel and around the world.

From Baghdad: Photographer Andrea Bruce captured the shy smile of 24-year-old Duaa Saad, an engineer caring for her mother and six sisters in the wake of her father’s death. She is risking her life because she is a woman learning to drive in Iraq.

From Islamabad: Two young women held photos of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, four years after she was murdered at a political rally in Rawalpindi. They look mournful — and defiant.

I hesitate to draw the comparisons. In America, women can drive cars and vote, and they wear whatever they want in public. Rape — by civilians or men in uniform — is a felony. As a group, we do not fear for our lives.

However, 2011 in America was a rough year for women’s reproductive freedom. The Guttmacher Institute reports that in the first three months alone of 2011, legislators in 49 states introduced 916 measures related to reproductive issues. More than half the measures — 56 percent — seek to restrict, sometimes eliminate, abortion access.

Why, after all that 2010 campaigning on jobs, jobs, jobs, do so many Republicans want to wage this war on our women?

When politicians restrict women’s legal right to abortion, they threaten multiple aspects of a woman’s life, from her physical and emotional health to the economic stability of her family. Only a fool believes this assault on women will prevent abortions. Only a self-serving zealot celebrates putting so many women’s lives at risk.

Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicated. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has also published two books: Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths -- a collection of her previously published columns -- and ...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, which chronicled her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

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  1. rustacus21 January 4, 2012

    … are/will be women too & what are learning &/or teaching about equality, justice and opportunity, in a world of Democratic principles? Not much, if we still allow injustice to slant our judgments, maintaining a subclass standard the only standard woman can achieve – currently! Tomorrow is too long a time away, when women & girls have the skills, ability & potential to change the world, just as much & even more so, than men. Being less “tribal”, more peaceful, better able to reach consensus, but more important, better “strategists”, in problem-solving. With all the challenges facing life on this 1 & only planet we share, it’s academic why NOW is the time we understand this and utilize all of our gender, racial and cultural resources while we have the option to, instead of needing to, as a result of urgent necessity. By then, authoritarian mandates may make peace, justice, opportunity and equality impossibilities to achieve. It’s our choice – IMMEDIATELY!

  2. Ihaveavoice January 6, 2012

    Some women claim they personally have reproductive rights… and they do. However, who has the right to silence another person? This is exactly what is happening to our daughters. When someone silences their unborn daughter through abortion. Yes, we have a right to be pregnant or not ~ however the right ends once there is another person involved. You have a “right” to have sex with whomever but once conception happens an abortion kills a separate person ~ it is no longer just “you” involved. That unborn child has a voice no one can hear ~ yet. But during the abortion proceedure your child is screaming for it’s life, screaming in horrific pain during abortion as it’s little body is torn apart. Your “right” over life ends with you. Once a child is conceived “your choice” then rules over the life of another person, one who is innocent and voiceless. A daughter perhaps. This is the reality of abortion. Like it or not, it is the truth. The life within you is not a dog or a plant, it is a living human being with DNA of it’s own. Your right ends with you. Yet, you talk about the horrors of women & girls in different countries and the abuses of what men have and are doing to women. What about the abuses women are taking upon their unborn. I dare say that these injustices are all wrong but to take a life of an innocent… how can you justify that? They change the name from “killing” to “abortion” so it doesn’t bring guilt and remorse along with the act. What if we changed the name of “rape” to “sexually toying with someone”? Does it make it easier to accept if we change the name? Not in my book. Do you have any idea how many women in this country alone are suffering from depression due to abortion or loss of their ability to conceive? This is the dirty little secret of abortion ~ you may be aborting the only child you may ever conceive. Is it worth the risk? Is it worth the inconvenience of having a child at an inconvenient time in your life if this is the only child you will ever have? Think about it! If this is the only child you will ever have do you really want to kill it?! Just because some law says you have the “right” does not mean it is the correct thing to do. Your right ends when you have sex and get pregnant ~ after that there is another person involved and you have no right to kill/abort your daughters… or sons. Take time to think about what you are really doing. Should your daughter (or son) pay for your “right” with her life?

  3. Mike65 January 6, 2012

    To Ihavavoice,

    I respect your opinions about abortion and would think that you are a perfect person to have “freedom of choice” in your future. You have obviously made the choice never to have an abortion for any reason. I also feel you are the kind of person that has firm convictions about animals having souls that will last forever, just like us. No One that is pro choice wants to restrict your beliefs and if women had pure “freedom of choice” your choices would certainly be yours to make, for whatever reasons you choose. It would be nice if however you think, you would keep your proselytizing opinions to yourself and act on them in your own manner without insulting people who have other opinions.

    No one likes to be told how to think, I’m sure you resent it as much as most people.

  4. Totenkatz January 6, 2012

    Really, this, young women are swarming pro-choice gatherings in Ohio, is amazing to me; however it doesn’t matter because abortion will always be legal in this country. All State bills that have tried to make abortion illegal have failed and most because the people of that state, even in the Bible belt, have voted against such bills becoming law. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t request that abortion be limited or that the mother to be have access to all options including abortion. I am pro-choice expect for so called late term abortions. If a woman has to wait until the third tri-semester to figure out if she wants the baby or not well then she should have the baby. Besides women in American have far more to fear from the left then the right in this country. Just look how conservative women are treated by the press, in media, by other women as compared to liberal women. This is what Connie should really be afraid of with respect to women in America.

  5. Thorkel January 6, 2012

    To ihaveavoice I respect your right to your opinion but I also feel that you should not try to push your beliefs on to others. There are many reasons why some women or girls choose to terminate a pregnancy such as rape, incest, medical reasons or immaturity. Every day we hear of children that are abused or killed by their parent(s). Some people should not be parents but maybe they are forced to because of guilt from people like you, economics or laws that prevent them from having an abortion. Personally, I don’t know if I could ever have an abortion but that should be my decision not any one else’s.

  6. charliewatkins January 6, 2012

    Abortion is murder, Life begins at conception, no woman has the right to end that life except under extraordinary circumstances.

  7. 1olderbutwiser1 January 7, 2012

    It’s an age old struggle between men and women, must have started with adam and eve.
    Women today are not as eve. Today’s women spend their husband broke, cheat on him on a whim, and hire lawyers to punish him forever. This is after she successfully seduced him into making a commitment to her. The laws need to change. Look on Jerry Springer, see what many of today’s women are like. If you think these are exceptions, think again. Talk to an honest divorce lawyer if you can find one, get the real scoop from Private Investigators. Welcome to the end of the american family, as it existed for the first 200 years of our nation. Easy money and full bellies cause most of it. TV and sexy advertising is another curse. Advertising condoms and tampons on TV for young kids to watch? How low have we stooped as a nation? I’ve said it many times, a real financial depression would do a world of good to get the true meaning of manhood, womanhood, and the worth of all life where it shoud be. I really don’t think God made woman as she has become in our society, that of a spoiled human being, not treasuring motherhood, and a wretched witch to get along with. Gotta keep up with the Jones’s, you know?

  8. patricia wiseman January 7, 2012

    When the right to lifer’s march and try to govern a woman’s body and her future they say their doing it for the right of the fetus. They don’t want to care for it as a baby, the bigest cut’s in spending in our society are in medical, housing, and food for it’s citizens. So it can die in the street and they don’t care about that. If we really care about the fetus we need to provide support for our citizens, but if we don’t care about them AFTER their born, then we should support the woman’s right to choose. This is a personal decission not a public one.


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