by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
January 30, 2003
THE WAR AGAINST WOMEN
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Watching President George W. Bush give his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, I thought about snakes.
It is a myth that snakes hypnotize their prey; they don't have eyelids, which makes their gaze appear penetrating. And snake charmers don't hypnotize cobras with their flutes; snakes can't hear. But they closely follow their prey, so as the charmer sways from side to side, so does the snake.
Watching President Bush, I felt exactly like snake prey - both hypnotized and charmed. But the President's speech was merely snake oil, and to break the spell, I had only to think about this "compassionate" man's venomous war against half the world's population - women:
Now that President Bush has a slender majority in the House and Senate, expect to see him bring his attack on women back home:
"If abortion were the only target, the administration would not be attempting to block women's access to contraceptives... (or) declaring war on any sex education," said the Times. "Women's constitutional liberty has been threatened, essential reproductive health care has been denied or delayed, and some women will needlessly die."
Title IX is next.
Contrary to what most people think, Title IX is not just about sports. It reads: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
In other words, the 1972 law gives girls and women the same educational opportunities that are offered to boys and men.
"Before Title IX, schools at all levels limited the participation of women and girls," says "Title IX at 30: Report Card on Gender Equity," a 2002 study issued by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE). "Many colleges and professional schools had quotas limiting the number of women who could attend. Female athletic programs generally consisted of cheerleading... . Many high schools prohibited boys from taking home economics and girls from taking vocational classes such as auto mechanics."
Title IX is one of those great pieces of legislation that actually improves people's lives. Consider these statistics from the National Organization of Women:
In the next few days, Bush's "Opportunity in Athletics Commission" will attempt to weaken, if not dismantle, Title IX through sports. It will accuse the law of instituting athletic "quotas," even though every court which has examined the issue specifically states that Title IX does not require quotas, and even though 72 percent of colleges and universities have added teams for women without cutting any teams for men. In fact, the number of men's teams, men's budgets and men in intercollegiate play have increased.
"No changes to Title IX standards as applied to athletics are warranted or necessary," said the NCWGE. "Modifications to the standards that would limit future opportunities for women in favor or expanded opportunities for men would violate the goal of gender equity."
It doesn't take a crystal ball to see where all this is headed. When women are once again steered into teaching, nursing and secretarial work, when they are denied the feelings of accomplishment and well-being that come from achieving athletic goals, when they are discouraged from following challenging and financially rewarding career paths, when they are discouraged from exploring their own sexuality, and when they are forbidden to make their own choices about family planning, they will probably find themselves once again barefoot, pregnant and back in the kitchen.
And then - and only then - will they no longer have the effrontery to challenge the God-given right of white men to rule the world.
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel.