Is it 2012 … or 1962?

By Chelsea Irvine

  • Only promiscuous women use birth control.
  • Women don’t deserve equal pay.
  • Victims of rape aren’t victims, they’re “accusers.”
  • Funding for early child education is unnecessary.  Women should be at home with her children.

Are we having a flashback to the early 1960’s? Did we stumble on a black and white documentary about the woman’s rights movements at the outset of the Baby Boom generation?

These aren’t memories from a generation ago. These are statements being made today, twelve years into the twenty-first century.

It’s true. Fundamental rights and basic perspectives my generation has taken for granted are under attack. The twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, and our younger brethren, are having to engage in the same fights our mothers and grandmothers took on decades ago. They marched the streets, refusing to give in until they won the right to vote, the right to work side-by-side with men, the right to make decisions over their own bodies. They spent decades pleading their case for equality. Great strides were made; the world was changed. Younger generations are the beneficiaries.

Now, sadly, the fringe element has started our country on a path that only goes backward.

Just last week, we celebrated “Equal Pay Day” in America. Consider that it takes three and a half months into the next year before a woman, on average, reaches the same pay as her male counterpart. A woman working the same job as a man has to work an extra 120 days each year to receive the same compensation on average.

This past February, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student speaking to Congress in favor of a private mandate for contraception coverage, even within institutions with moral reservations, a slut. He equated her pleas for contraception to an admission of promiscuity. He said that by covering her birth control, citizens were “paying” her to have sex, and therefore they should be able to watch her perform the act they were paying for.

This is not a joke.  A college student (a law student, no less) is being called a prostitute for making the responsible choice in her own bedroom to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

I don’t want my comments misconstrued as male versus female diatribe, but an irony lies in the fact that birth control expenses are covered in 28 states while Viagra is covered in all 50. This, despite the fact that due to the availability and education regarding family planning (including birth control), teen pregnancy is at a record low. The New York Times recently reported that the birth rate among 15 to 19 year-olds has fallen 44% since 1991. The Times fairly concluded that the decline is “almost exclusively” a result of an increase in contraception use.

This year, we saw another surprising occurrence. The Violence Against Women Act, which has been reauthorized every Congressional session since 1994 on a non-partisan vote, has been stalled. The bill authorizes funding for investigation and prosecution of crimes against women and imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, among other things. It is suggested that some conservative members won’t vote for the measure due to its coverage of same sex couples and Native Americans. Even after law enforcement from around the country, including California and even here in Sacramento, travelled to our nation’s Capital to lobby in support of the measure, the bill has yet to be reauthorized.  We are holding out hope that when the bill is taken up in the near future, the opposition will have a change of heart regarding this very important measure.

As our country explores avenues to deal with budget deficits, the programs lined up first before the chopping block have been those that disproportionately affect women.

Planned Parenthood, accused of being an “abortion mill,” has been one of the most popularly mentioned options for elimination by conservative politicians. We need not mention that Planned Parenthood is one of the main sources of medical care for low income women and their children. One must also note that much of the funding for Planned Parenthood comes from private donors, so taxpayers aren’t footing the entire bill to begin with.  Furthermore, many of the services provided by Planned Parenthood offset expenses that would otherwise be paid through Medicaid.

It is unacceptable that a Congressional panel exploring mandated insurance coverage for contraceptives should be void of a female perspective (the panel was exclusively comprised of men). It is unacceptable that a woman who speaks out should be publicly shamed for what she does in her bedroom and her views reduced to crude, locker room jokes.

These are serious discussions going on that could limit the freedoms and lifestyles we are accustomed to. It is time that we reconvene, as family, friends and neighbors to reinforce the strategies and successes of the women who preceded us. Each woman should have the right to choose when they want to have a child, or if they want to have a child. A woman should have the opportunity to earn the same living as her male equal.  Low income Americans shouldn’t be denied healthcare and education for their children. Men should support women and women should support men.

If you’re interested in joining the movement for equality, I urge you to come together on Saturday, April 28th.  Nationwide, nearly 60 rallies will be held in support of equal rights for everyone.  In California there will be rallies here in Sacramento (on the North Steps of the State Capitol), in San Diego (at Balboa Park, Organ Pavilion) and in Los Angeles (Pershing Square in Downtown LA).

Men and women will be standing in solidarity to say this war on women is wrong. One message, when spoken by thousands of voices, rings loudest. Let’s unite against the war on women.

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Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GOTG. However, we value the opinions of ALL women – and believe that everyone has a story worth telling and a viewpoint worth sharing. We encourage GOTGer’s with opinions (on any topic) to share them with our readers. For more information, please visit here.


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