Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? Hell no!

Parsing the memes dealing with women in this election season is almost dizzying.

From “binders full of women” to the insinuation that if women get pregnant from a rape, it’s “something that God intended,” Republicans seem determined to put their feet their mouths over and over again.

There are signs now that women are getting the message, and getting more politically active as a result.

Yesterday I received the new Lesley Gore video, “You Don’t Own Me,” from several sources; if you have’t seen it yet, it’s worth a look: it’s a composite of many different women (most of them young) telling the politicians to get their f**king hands off our bodies (emphasis mine).

The specter of Roe v. Wade being reversed has a lot of women frightened.

We seem to be heading eerily towards the scenario imagined by Margaret Atwood some thirty years ago in The Handmaid’s Tale: a nightmare landscape of environmental devastation and societal breakdown, where the elite, safe in their gated communities, feel righteously justified in considering forced childbearing the only function of fertile young women.

I am still trying to wrap my head around the reality of the fact that we live in a country where Viagra is fully covered by insurance, but contraception often is not.

We live in a world where powerful men can get away with assaulting women and boys repeatedly, with the collusion of those around them. Sandusky and DSK, I’m looking at YOU—but these just the most scandalous recent cases, there are so many more in their club.

And if we move over to the virtual world, the violence against women’s bodies grows exponentially.  People always tell me that there’s all kinds of porn out there, from the soft & cuddly to the whips and chains, but from what I know, there are an awful lot of men jerking off to women’s pain.

I really don’t like calling men out like this.  I believe that many–probably most—men are fine upstanding citizens who would never hurt a woman.

But the truth is that we women need all those fine upstanding men to stand up for us now.

I was shocked at the statistics released last week showing that if only men voted in the Presidential election, Romney would win.

That means that an awful lot men support the kind of patriarchal social structure Romney indisputably stands for.

When is the last time you heard of a Mormon woman running a big company, or holding political office, or doing much of anything outside of doing the admittedly fulltime work of raising a big brood of children?

And then there’s the other half of the ticket, Paul Ryan—a Roman Catholic who seems to be Scrooge re-issued in a virile young package.

These two are the front men for a huge back-to-the-future wave of religious conservatism that employs much more subtle means than the Islamic Brotherhood, but with the same ends: to uphold male privilege and keep women securely ensconced in the private sphere.

A Romney might take a look at those “binders of women,” but in the end he’ll choose a nice young white man as the “most qualified” of the lot.

A Ryan might approve of a married woman leaving the home to earn some extra bread for her husband’s table, but if her daughter was raped while mom was out and got pregnant, too bad—suck it up, have the child, life goes on, and it’s just too bad that rapists are so rarely punished.  After all, boys will be boys, and girls ask for it.

If all American women voted in this election, President Obama would win by a landslide.

Obama has been good to women where it counts: he’s drastically improved health care and fought off the insurance dragons who want to label even pregnancy a “re-existing condition”; he’s stood up for women’s ownership of our reproductive health; the stimulus he put into place in his first year has kept our economy limping along,despite the repeated and concerted efforts of Republican Congressmen to sabotage it; and his government showcases a number of powerful, strong women who provide excellent leadership models for all Americans.

Shortly after he was sworn in as President of the United States, Barack Obama wrote a public letter to his two daughters, Malia and Sasha, in which he says:

“These are the things I want for you—to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That’s why I’ve taken our family on this great adventure.”

The historic election of the nation’s first African American President represented a giant step forward for this country.  A racial barrier that had seemed insurmountable fell, just as suddenly as the Berlin Wall fell two decades ago, ending what had seemed to be an everlasting Cold War.

We need the gender barriers to fall too. I know there are young women in the political pipeline today who have the dream of breaking through all the glass ceilings and reaching the sky, and we should be doing all we can to support them.

Today, what we need to do is prevent the takeover of this nation by rightwing religious conservatives.  We need to vote President Obama back into office.

And then we need to keep going, to make this a nation where all our children—no matter their gender, their race, their class, their religion or their ethnicity—can soar.

Surmounting the challenges facing us not just as a country, but as a planet, will take every ounce of creative, innovation and intelligence we can muster.

We need all our children to turn their minds to this task.  We can’t afford to leave half the population—our women—barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

Leave a comment


  1. Martin Lack

     /  October 26, 2012

    In the news in the UK these days, we have the curious juxtaposition of two stories:
    1. The late (soon to be ex-Sir) Jimmy Savile – a legendary philanthropist in life; now posthumously revealed to be a record-breaking child molester.
    2. The 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, shot by her local Taliban for defying their stipulation that girls don’t need an education.

    There has been an awful lot of grandstanding and pontificating (mainly by men) on both these issues but, the fact remains that, even though we stopped chopping people’s heads and hands off at least 200 years ago, many Western democracies are really not that far advanced from the misogynism of the Taliban.

    Having watched the PBS biographic special on both POTUS candidates (i.e. The Choice 2012), I too was left in no doubt about who I would vote for if I could. If Romney wins, I think the USA’s credibility on the World stage will be massively reduced – not least because it will have an elected Head of State who believes that God is a paranoid schizophrenic who cannot decide what His story is, and who believes he is destined to rule over his own planet in some alternative universe when he dies. You may say that no-one could make this stuff up but, sadly, I suspect Joseph Smith did just that.

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  October 26, 2012

      You said it, Martin–I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for all you do to stand up for the planet–and best of what makes us human–on a daily basis!

      • Martin Lack

         /  October 27, 2012

        Very kind of you to say so, Jennifer. Not sure about the daily basis. If it was not for recent news in UK, I would have been intimidated into silence (as a man) by such powerful and passionate writing but, sadly, it needs to be said (and to be read). I would not be surprised, though, if you felt exhausted just by producing it.

  2. Jennifer, you are busy, no doubt, ensuring the safety of your sons in the face of Sandy. Hope the disruption and damage are manageable for you.

    …a very sad way for your writings and entreaties over the past 18 months or so to find vindication.

    Bless you,

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  October 28, 2012

      Thank you, Angie. Yes, we are waiting for a big storm…there will be many more. How many have to hit before our leaders get the message that it’s time to CHANGE?

      • I don’t think your major party leaders CAN get the message; Romney’s constitutionally prejudiced against it, and Obama will lose the sponsorship of the powers that be and thus lose the presidency should he utter truths.
        I understand that you personally will not risk voting for Stein – who gets the message loud and clear- and that you throw your support behind Obama because the alternative is, at best, regressive. Many around the world are hoping that all those Americans who don’t usually vote because they will not participate in a corrupt system etc, will make the effort to register their demand for change by voting Green.
        And that pigs will fly

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