What’s at stake in the 2012 presidential election

We’ve come a long way in terms of LGBT and women’s rights, but if the Democrats don’t win the election, all of that progress may be reversed.  Both Rue Landau and Carol Tracy touched upon the progress made in the government and politics over the past several decades. Whereas politicians struggled to even mention the word “gay” in the 1980s, today DOMA has been repealed, and President Obama is the first president to openly support marriage equality.  Likewise, women have made great strides with Roe v. Wade, Casey v. Planned Parenthood, Title VII, and the Lily Ledbetter Act.  But with the conservative right wing, things for women and the LGBT community are looking grim.  Mitt Romney’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Todd Akin’s comments on ‘legitimate’ rape, the Republican congress’s difficulty passing the Violence Against Women Act – these are just a few warning signs that our rights won’t be protected unless we fight for them.  Like Carol Tracy said, people thought that women faced obstacles before, but we’re facing the worst challenge to reproductive and women’s rights today. Is it going to take right-wing extremists to make the nation stand up for our rights?  I think so.

Carol Tracy said that if Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prevents employers discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, or national origin) was put before Congress today, it would not pass.  This statement really shocked me because it shows how cynical some Americans are of our government and how extreme both parties have become.  If Congress really is this divided and if the right-wing really has become this radical, then I fear for the future of this country.  I have hope that bipartisanship may one day prevail, but given our current political climate I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.  Tracy’s statement also showed how little we’ve actually progressed.  Like I stated above, we have made strides in recent years through Roe v. Wade/etc, but the fundamental issues are the same ones we’ve faced always faced. The problems that exist around reproductive health have fundamentally the same foundation as the problems that existed around women’s suffrage.  It all comes down to the distrust/fear of women and the need for men to maintain their authority by controlling women’s actions.  So even though the issues themselves seem more ‘progressive’, the underlying conflict is still the same.  We haven’t been able to move pass this fear and distrust of women; until we do, women will never truly gain equality. This reminds me of the Subject/Other dichotomy that Beauvoir described in The Second Sex.  At what point will women no longer be/were no longer considered “The Other” from a political viewpoint?  When she gained the right to vote? When men stop regulating reproductive health?  When a woman becomes president?

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