2012-04-27 / Columnists

Big Mouth Bass Redux

Putting The Genie Back In The Bottle
Commentary By Joan Mettler

Margaret Sanger established the first birth control clinic in 1916 which blossomed into Planned Parenthood. Women fought long odds to get the vote in 1923. Soon after, women were given permission to drive a car. Women could not smoke cigarettes or drink in public until we were depicted as such on the silver screen.

If women were seen at a bar, we were considered floosies, loose. We were represented in the workplace on a limited scale prior to WWII until we were hired by the millions to perform jobs that assisted in the war effort.

Women have been seeking equal pay for equal work for decades to little avail.

Now, in 2012, four years away from the anniversary of Margaret Sanger’s first established clinic, the Republican Party on the state level is determined to put the genie back in the bottle, abridging one women’s liberty at a time.

It is beyond comprehension why they began with Planned Parenthood, an organization that enables women to plot the course of their child-bearing years. What is not beyond comprehension is the GOP’s full intention with regard to women’s rights in the long term. Why is the GOP so determined to put the genie back in the bottle?

Beginning with the closing down of Planned Parenthood Clinics, Republic governors of 17 states have shown their disregard for a woman’s right to determine her own future by closing down PP clinics and denying women access to various means of birth control and family planning.

There is one fact that must be understood from the beginning. Women do not enjoy the prospect of enduring the emotional and physical pain of abortions. They neither enter into the abortion procedure happy or without regret. However, for whatever the reason behind the intense personal choice, one must respect the right of the individual in her choosing.

Simply said, it is none of anybody’s business what choice a woman makes with regard to her pregnancy.

The ultimate decision is difficult enough without government intervention.

Yet, in 2012, that our government can intervene in a woman’s extremely personal life is unconscionable.

Nearly one hundred years ago, Margaret Sanger, a nurse, recognized a woman’s need for more effective ways of controlling her reproductive role. Her mother, it is referenced, had 20 pregnancies including nine miscarriages consequently dying at the age of 50 from cervical cancer (and tuberculosis).

Sure-ly monitoring her mother’s physically debilitating birthing routine combined with her medical vocation inspired Sanger toward her goal of giving every woman the right to choose her reproductive path.

Sanger empathized with women noting how many times she had heard of desperate women opting for pregnancy termination through back-alley abortions, the coat hanger used as the surgical instrument?

Thus, her first clinic which eventually became Planned Parenthood in which contraception and legal, hygienic pregnancy termination was performed, liberated women to serve society to the best of their ability on their own terms.

Rather than visiting a hospital as an annual reproductive obligation, women could postpone their pregnancies and, for instance, attend college and pursue a career.

There goes that genie!

Many of the same men and women who cringe when they see an articulate well-educated person of color, are reviled when women rise to high private sector or government positions. Whether it is jealousy, intolerance, a combination of both, an uncomfortable awareness that the faction of old white males are in danger of relinquishing their stronghold on American society or just the desire to recapture the ‘good old days,’ those opposed to PP and equal pay for equal work still control the ‘bottle’ and are desperately trying to cling to their hold on the genie.

Understand that the pre-FDR genie had nearly everyone in society perfectly performing in prescribed roles: Women in the workplace were factory workers, sales girls, teachers, nurses and secretaries emerging into banking as tellers and essentially working in jobs men scorned.

It was the unusual situation where women became doctors or law-yers, normally attributable to the fact their fathers, doctors or lawyers themselves, set the example and plowed the way.

The WWII era, where so many American men were in the service broadened workplace opportunities for women. Currently, women students dominate in veterinary colleges and are well represented in medical school and law school. Opportunities for female engineers are abundant as scholarships abound for women in engineering.

Nonetheless, some numbers don’t lie as in merely 27 out of the top 1,000 corporations have women CEOs.

With that statistic in mind it is significant to learn the pay scale of women CEOs vs. that of their male counterparts: Carol Meyerwitz (TJX) $3.9 million vs. $11.9 male, Lyn Eisenhaus (SUN) $2.2 million vs. $18.6 million male, Andrea Jung (AVP) $11.9 million vs. $42 million male. In reality, it is difficult to feel sorry for CEOs earning millions of dollars. However, the juxtaposition of female to male earnings is startling.

As a point of information, those stockholders, sympathetic with the treatment of females in major corporations who receive annual proxies, should make it a point to note the paucity of females on boards of directors (one, possibly two; but, never more) and vote accordingly.

If the bottle controllers could keep paying women substantially less for performing the same work as men, they would.

Fortunately, President Obama just signed the Lilly Ledbetter bill into law demanding equal compensation for men and women.

It shall be interesting to monitor how this law affects the workplace in the future.

Whether it is equal work for equal pay or self-determination of one’s reproductive role, there remain those who would turn the clock back on women in 2012 cramming us back in the bottle.

Today women comprise 34 percent of U.S. governors, 22 percent of CEOs of major U.S. corporations, 5 percent of all boards of directors of American corporations, 18 percent of the Senate and 27 percent of the House of Representatives.

Yet, women total greater than 50 percent of the American voting population. As an aside, it wasn’t the big deal over allowing women to join Augusta National Golf Club.

It was the bigger picture of men controlling the bottle.

Clearly the time for each American woman to vote her future is here. Without going out on a limb, it is evident that women are currently struggling to retain the progress men have allowed us to make that they so obviously and desperately want back.

Woman may not like President Obama’s economic policy; or, parts of ObamaCare. But, setting those issues aside in favor of voting for the future of our gender, women who visualize the bottle and the genie struggling to stay out, must strongly consider voting the prowoman party in the future no matter past party affiliation.

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