A BLOG BY SHANNON FISHER
The word, “WOW” has an entirely new meaning for me than it did just four short months ago. This new definition is easily recognized by tens of thousands of women across the country – women who have organized in response to an overwhelming amount of anti-women, anti-equality legislation that has been proposed (and, in many cases, passed) in Congress and individual state legislative bodies throughout the United States in 2012.
These women have banded together nationwide under the umbrella of a new national organization, United Against the War on Women or WOW – an acronym for the War on Women. Rallies and marches were held in all 50 states on April 28 protesting this anti-women legislation, identified as the War on Women – and I can assure you this war is very, very real. This year, more anti-choice, anti-women’s health care laws have been passed at any time since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States.
Those at the helm of this war, proposing the legislation and dismissing our outraged response, are quick to assert that those of us organizing to amplify our voices are merely attempting to propel a “pro-abortion” agenda. I believe I can safely state that no one at April 28 events in any of the 50 States is pro-abortion; we are pro-choice – there is an immense difference between the two.
In addition, much of the legislation we are protesting has nothing to do with abortion; it is based on lack of access to birth control, the legality of some existing forms of birth control (some personhood bills would determine that a fetus is considered a person even prior to conception, which would render several types of birth control methods currently in use illegal), equal pay for equal work, and domestic violence.
Some, including Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell, have referred to our designation of this cluster of anti-women legislation as a “War on Women” as “political theater,” implying that this is some left-wing attempt to divert voters away from the “real” issues facing our nation. I would counter with an assertion that a large contingent of the socially conservative legislators proposing these bills, many of whom were elected during the customary mid-term backlash against an opposing-party president, have been attempting to keep this proposed anti-women legislation under the political radar.
Thinking no one would notice as long as they focused their public emphasis on other (also important) issues facing our nation, these lawmakers attempted to push their radical viewpoint through legislative bodies that are likely more firmly stacked in their favor now than at any time in recent history – due to the current divisive political climate. Much to their dismay, these legislators have actually exacerbated the political chasm by targeting women and alienating part of their own political base.
Women noticed; women got angry and impassioned females began to organize with fervor nationwide! An immediate threat to women’s health care in this country was recognized, and we acted to oppose it with unprecedented speed – United Against the War on Women was founded in mid-February of 2012.
Two women, Karen Teegarden and Desiree Jordan, took it upon themselves to reach out to women throughout the United States. UA WOW joined with women’s rights groups that have been in existence for decades, also recruiting women who have never been politically involved, all of whom volunteered their time to plan rallies and marches to be held in all 50 states on April 28 in support of women’s rights.
Women worked together tirelessly and seamlessly for their voices to be heard in unison, amplified exponentially in numbers in every state capital nationwide. The sign I carried to the rally in Richmond read, “Thought women wouldn’t notice the assault on our rights? Think again! We are angry, we vote and we aren’t going anywhere!”
This is a sentiment echoed in every corner of our great nation, and a social media campaign brought us together – United Against the War on Women. In support of us at the rally in Richmond were several lawmakers and former Gov. Tim Kaine. There were leaders from women’s rights groups, activists from local colleges and universities, clergy members, soccer moms, women who protested for women’s rights decades ago.
Represented were both Republicans and Democrats – and we were all united for a common cause. The spirit of unity was palpable, and our determination solidified with renewed vigor. We did it. But the work doesn’t stop here. We are united for a common cause and resolved to fight for our rights. That we even have to do so in 2012 is unfathomable to many of us – but we do, and we are, and we will. Never, ever underestimate the power of a woman; I imagine some unsuspecting lawmakers are realizing that about now. WOW.