"UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL!"
Every day it seems that we hear about still another force or plan that is aimed at dividing women to decrease their political power. These may come from within or from without. Prominent examples of both are the ancient controls still propagated through our culture.
In addition there are the political forces engaged in forcing us back to our past powerlessness. Politicians have learned to fear the power of women's votes and are determined to nullify that power by polarizing us.
Choice is a uniting force for women since most of us feel that each should decide what is suitable for herself. We may consult with health professionals but we do not want governmental or religious dominion over our reproductive choices.
Cracks are already forming as the deep pockets of political/religious groups are emptied into attempts to curtail women's reproductive rights.
Their final goal is to deprive women of all birth control, but they are concentrating on abortion methods. Using terrorism and murder along with the ballot, they have severely restricted the rights of many women already. They have pushed through punitive and restrictive laws in most states.
The media support their tactic of dividing women using lies and emotional blackmail. We seldom if ever hear accurate descriptions of the reasons and procedures for late term abortions (see Gappers 1998 - 003 No Zippers, No Velcro.) Instead, the media constantly barrages us with pictures, paid ads and "news" stories of "partial birth infanticide" -- a term designed to play on voter's emotions and label women as baby killers.
Propaganda messages abound which may usurp our words and play on them to turn them against us. We must be vigilant to counteract them. Case in point, (and thanks to) Governor Chiles of Florida who vetoed a bill that would have allowed a specialty license plate to be issued showing two children and the words "choose life."
Terrorists activities have largely frightened off doctors since many feel it is too risky for themselves, their future practice and their patients. This has in turn caused most medical schools to cut or restrict all abortion training.
So now it is mostly women who are trained and dedicated to the service of our sisterhood that stand against those terrorists who hold a bible in one hand and a bomb in the other.
Florida is now under concerted attack as women's clinics are being subjected to noxious chemicals such as butric acid. In some cases, holes are bored in the doors and windows and the chemicals pumped in. A bill to limit abortion availability is said to be certain to pass the legislature. The hope is that Governor Chiles will veto it.
In upcoming elections, one of the Shrubs (Molly Ivins's word for the Bush boys) is in contention for the office of Florida governor. It's a sure thing that this Republican would favor anti-choice legislation.
Watch Florida carefully -- your state and your freedom may be under attack next.
Those are some of the threats from without. The threats from within may be just as devastating to our unity of purpose.
We have remarked before that women emerged from pseudo-slavery and began to develop their true potential in this century. This in contrast to the thousands of years that men have had to learn and develop.
Our previous training never prepared us for dealing with opposing viewpoints. We never had the tradition of team sports to train us for teamwork. We could only back down and suffer in silent resentment or compliance when faced with opposition. Compromises and the courage to make them are just two of the skills that we must learn and we must learn quickly.
In a nearby town, a woman's organization which has enjoyed community support for many years has been nearly ruined by a long feud between two women with different philosophies who will not compromise. Both are ardent champions for women, but . . .
One woman's political views are to the left and is determined that the efforts of the organization be directed toward poor women and support only left wing local candidates.
The other woman is a centrist. She insists that the organization must direct its support to all women and not affiliate itself with any political party.
The membership has been torn apart and the formerly great organization flounders and has lost its effectiveness. The city is considering a proposal to eliminate their funding and a formerly supportive community is disgusted with a "cat fight" that did not need to happen.
Being a strong and independent woman does not mean that we use our strength against other women to promulgate our own political agendas. It means having the grace and courage to compromise for the team.
Many women have still not learned that we cannot all pitch or be on first base. Some of us must be in right field "watching the dandelions grow." It is not our position that is important, it is our dedication to teamwork -- to getting the job done together.
Copyright 1998 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M