Taking Us Back…

I’ve been working with a friend –a former academic colleague–on a book about the causes and consequences of what Americans call the women’s movement. He’s a quantitative guy (I think he sleeps in a bed of data…) while I am rather clearly not, but we are both interested in the history of women’s emancipation–not just questions like “To what extent did the invention and widespread use of the birth control pill allow women to enter the workforce?” or “How did the change from jobs requiring brute strength to those requiring skill benefit women?” but also things like “what changes in social and cultural attitudes were triggered by women’s suffrage, political activity and workforce participation?”

We most definitely aren’t planning an academic/scholarly book. Instead, we hope to provide a journey of sorts, an accessible trip through the last hundred years or so, focusing on the causes and consequences of American women’s change of legal and social status.

The incredibly important question we will not be able to answer is “Is that progress–and we do see it as progress–reversible?”

There are movements in today’s America absolutely committed to that reversal, and the current “abortion wars” are only one aspect of their agenda, which involves a wholesale retreat from numerous aspects of contemporary American life, not just the emergence of us “uppity” women.

Common Dreams recently had an essay by Mike Lofgren, describing the merger of some of the most retrograde of those movements and reporting on the danger posed by the recent “teaming up” of religious extremists with far-right fascist groups.

Here’s his lede:

The Supreme Court’s disastrous rulings on prayer on public school property and abortion rights have finally focused proper attention on the role of religious extremism in undermining democratic self-rule. For decades, not only has it been underestimated, most of the media has misunderstood Christian fundamentalism’s goals.

Make no mistake: the well-funded, well-armed alliance of motivated extremists that I have described constitutes the greatest domestic danger this nation has faced since the Civil War.

Katherine Stewart, who has written on the religious right for many years, has redressed this misunderstanding in a New York Times piece. She straightforwardly says that Christian fundamentalism’s goal is “breaking American democracy,” and that this is not an unintended byproduct of fundamentalism’s political activity. No, it “is the point of the project.”

You might think that church-going Christians, no matter how fundamentalist, have little in common with organizations like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, or with neo-Nazi groups like Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute, or the Aryan Nation. Yet Lofgren points out that there is substantial overlap in the membership of those groups. He says they “bury their extreme theological differences to ally against their common enemy: the Enlightenment, a tolerant society, and equal justice under law.”

Among their other motivating issues, these movements share a commitment to misogyny and to a cult of masculine toughness. (Paging Josh Hawley ...)

This is obvious among fundamentalists and white nationalists alike: Southern Baptists and other evangelical sects preach “submission” of women, and every nationalist movement of the past century has diminished women’s rights.

Lofgren notes that Peter Thiel, a billionaire funder of the movement, has expressed his belief that it is was a mistake to “give” women the vote…

Fundamentalists want a universally Christian America that

they insist existed at the time of the nation’s founding, objections from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Mark Twain, or Ambrose Bierce notwithstanding. White nationalists pine for a traditional white America, regardless of the presence from the beginning of racial differences and tensions.

Lofgren quotes Umberto Eco, who described what he termed “ur-fascist” tendencies: a faux-populism coupled with a railing against “elite” straw men; the habit of using a vocabulary similar to Newspeak in that it obscures rather than reveals meaning; contempt for the weak; and more. And he focuses upon the recent Supreme Court decisions undermining the right to personal autonomy and the separation of church and state.

Now that the Supreme Court has seen fit to read theocracy into the Constitution, Americans have begun to wake up to the political threat to their liberties and their way of life. But few have noticed how synergistic the rest of its rulings are with a religious-right campaign to wreck the constitutional order. Past campaign finance and congressional redistricting decisions have been a gift to a party that has given up on competitive electoral democracy in favor of Russian-style elections and public religion enforced by state diktat.

Obviously, women aren’t the only people threatened by this movement. Everyone whose fundamental right to self-determination has led them to live a life disapproved of by White Christian Nationalists is at risk.

Just think of us women as the canaries in the coal mine….


  1. The term is Neo-Fascism, and it’s already taken hold of many European states; Italy is getting ready to elect a fascist woman to join forces with the Hungarian leader.

    It only takes a couple of hours to research what’s going on in Ukraine in what Vladimir Putin called a de-Nazification process when he moved troops from Crimea into Eastern and Southern Ukraine. You can’t sit on your couch and “get informed.” The remote is not your answer to enlightenment.

    The oligarchs on the right have been exploiting the fears of humans for decades and will continue to do so. Their prejudices are relatively straightforward to provoke. However, those clinging to the Democratic Party for solutions are also being manipulated by their fears.

    If you’re judging right-wing subjects, guess what?

    Yes, you’re a left-wing subject.

    Both political parties are the problem. Both are used by the oligarchs to manipulate the people. The media is working on your fears and confirming your beliefs that the other guys are the problem.

    Don’t fixate on the play and the actors…look beyond!

  2. Progress does not always mean improvement! I am quoting myself for I have stated this for decades. Not only about women’s “emancipation” which has provided/demanded more responsibility from us while withholding the “rewards” of equal pay for equal work we now provide. We are no more “emancipated” than slaves freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Amendment XIII, “Neither slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The descendants of slavery are still fighting for those same equal rights but remain below white women seeking true equality. Women in supervisory positions in the workplace or elected to public office are being used for what benefits they can provide but remain in second place when benefits are being passed out. The majority of women, married or single-parent households, leave their lower paid jobs or elected positions to return to the responsibility of maintaining the home and parental responsibilities. Many become “golf widows” with husband who may not play golf but have outside relaxation away from home as we maintain the primary responsibilities we carried out before being “allowed” to work outside the home.

    “Emancipate; to free from bondage, oppression or restraint…”

    “Just think of us women as the canaries in the coal mine….”

    We are being forced back to the beginning of our battle and must now fight the Supreme Court of the United States for such rights as basic health care such as birth control and suffrage depending on where we live due to voter suppression.

  3. In light of this timely blog, the front page of the Denver Post had a lengthy article about how the Taliban is once again coming down on the women. Their version of Sharia “law” is all about dominating women, abusing women and treating women like slaves or chattel. It’s all quite disgusting, of course, but the point made today shows that WE have an AMERICAN TALIBAN. WE have white male grievance and insecurity that is driving this anti-woman movement. These men are terribly frightened of losing power; clearly a testosterone-derived fear. They are fundamentally insecure about their sexuality (Hawley is showing us how feeble he really is with his new book). All that adds up to the retrograde attitudes and behaviors. Those (mostly) white men who are so enthralled with their assault rifles suffer from ACUTE testosterone poisoning. They are the dupes of the right/evangelical creeps who push all that woman-suppression crap.

    So, how does all this get reversed so that women are once again revered as equal citizens? I’m not sure, but all we have is the vote. If 90% of the eligible women turn out to vote, there might be a chance to regain equanimity. Otherwise… It’ll be American burkas.

  4. Vernon, how will “voting” help women get equality by the SCOTUS?

    The Ds were in power the last two years and couldn’t carry through on hardly any agenda items promised and even lost ground. The Inflation Reduction Act was a joke.

    Checking our financial position, I would say once again that the average American lost ground while the oligarchy lined its pockets.

    When you add all the SCOTUS decisions, inflation, and military expenditures, Biden’s first two years have been a disaster, no matter how much propaganda the PR firms can print.

    Voters, especially young voters, won’t show up in November.

  5. Solutions please. Assuming that Todd is right, and the People will not show up to vote in November, what can we do about it?
    I am duly alerted to the danger and apprehensive about the future thanks to this and other blogs that are sounding the alarm. I do not need further persuasion, but I would like to hear about strategies and solutions.

  6. James asks for solutions from the common man, which is a fair request. How does the common man fight institutions and systems against them – to oppress them?

    I have heard people decry taxation – stop paying taxes to get their attention.

    However, if you do, you will find yourself in jail and your property sold to pay your arrearages. You will also quickly learn just how free you aren’t. You’re paying rent to stay out of jail.

    What about work protests? Workers formed committees to go around the unions, which sold out the people decades ago might be the answer, but once someone screams socialism, then everyone will fold their cards.

    The citizens in the UK have more control over their government, and they are forming committees to begin walkouts and sitdown strikes.

    The answer you won’t like to hear is that other nations, especially Russia and China, are already ahead of the problem and solution. The solutions will most likely be forced upon the US oligarchy regardless of the military expenditures. Kind of like a vice grip or boa constrictor.

    We can always inform ourselves and our neighbors by researching the issues and shutting off the TVs. 😉

  7. How do we explain women like Betsey DeVos, Lauren Boebert and Margorie Taylor Greene?

    As for “what to do”…it is tres simple – get the 40+ % of Americans who refuse to be DEMS or MAGAs (they have better things to do, if poor, to survive, if ok financially, to party) to vote. They are sick of politics and politicians, and, thanks to our lovely education system, have zero idea why voting matters…

  8. James; people who hear and read Todd probably will NOT show up to vote. His “Voice of Muncie” reaches Ball State University students who may believe his always negative garble against both parties and whatever we here on the blog comment we are doing. Nothing to be done about them or the Republicans who believe the Big Lie and follow Trump. All WE can do is all WE can do; urge people to pay attention to whose running, where and why and donate if you can.

    Republican voting and McConnell’s unConstitutional inaction put Trump’s controlling votes on the Supreme Court; other openings may come up during President Biden’s term and hopefully his second term and WE can change SCOTUS. Listen to Todd; that is your right as an American citizen, you are also allowed to believe him or you can pay closer attention to others here and on the major news channels and decide for yourself. Todd is also against the media which he plays an active part in locally. You also have the right to ignore conditions we are living with today with Trump’s White Nationalist MAGA party still in power and lead us to a full Dictatorship minus democracy, Rule of Law and no Constitutional protection of any of the rights we have left.

    James; your first sentence makes me question how old you are.

  9. given labels never helps those who fight and are aware of the issues. take away the labels as a whole and speak as one. the media cant deny your intentions,unless they, decide who is what.
    as a whole, we are not socialists,we are Americans. (the highway system is the biggest form of socialism)the issue is labels and those ignorant enough to use them to disregard the issue. why belong to a sect,cult ,org or society if you are not making sure the following is in line.as a self preservationist, i rely on others to also be a self preservationist,for America. label, nope, its a state of mind where i depend on this nation to agree.there are others who have decided and are now paying someone to overthrow our rights. no labels.they are the one who are,condeming the American dream for a big payout.brash bullshit supplied by others whos intent is to become a state of economic slavery. label? look at the end game. it would be best served if the other side was just condemmed who see us as the problem.. your better off face to face explaining how you dont want a buncha thugs and christians,(labels?) telling you how to live,and why…idenity is sole here, but it need not be with labels, afterall, they walk around and bellow with it tattooed across their face…crush them as you see fit, but crush them.

  10. JoAnn:
    why didnt Obama stand against mcdoodle and his senate stand? you have to begin to wonder is
    being a gent or his own mind was just as lame as those who didnt vote in any election.
    if Obama made a stand against mcds trivial crap, we wouldnt be here now..
    a fight that never materialized..

  11. Lester,

    Lauren and MTG are worker bees for the likes of Betsy DeVos. Betsy has oligarch blood and gives money to the organizations that package and funnel money to keep the GOP in power.

    All the mouthpieces like politicians and media trolls are there to get the anti-government crowd excited with their rhetoric. The more outrageous, the better. Betsy would never act like that, or her crowd would shun her, but she’ll write the checks to make it happen. Same with Koch’s dark network.

    Same with the Publix heiress who funded the 1/6 rebellion party, now blown up by the media into a full-scale insurrection. However, none of the politicians, organizers, or funders, have had any negative consequences from the Dem-led committee. Why do you suppose that is? LOL

    Keep watching your favorite TV news and tell us who advertises during the commercial breaks…

  12. Todd,

    I don’t watch any TV “news” – it is all opinionated in one form or another, especially in the choice of stories. PBS is the saddest evidence of this.

  13. Autocracy and fascism seem to ride on testosterone. Our political life seems to ride on testosterone. There have been
    few female senators, and certainly none of these have been a majority leader.
    Tangentially speaking, the Koch bros., presumably, have had testes, not ovaries. I’m sure the same can be said for the
    Spencer-thing, above, and Rush and Alex have been nothing but Di**s.
    I know of no “magic,” or other solutions to the dilemma, but energizing women, and their male allies, who are not
    on the right, with resistance to the trend at SCOTUS, and the general erosion of constitutional rights, to get to
    their polling places this November, while simplistic, despite the belittling of the power of the vote we see, may be
    the best curative. We can not afford to have the McConnell gang in control of either house of congress.

  14. Just think of Todd as Puck, read and move on.

    First on my agenda is get out the vote. Elect as many Dems as possible and focus on getting progressive policies in place, including changes to SCOTUS.

  15. Lester, a wise move.

    Peggy and JoAnn, keep it up with the pom-poms. The party needs plenty of cheerleaders.

    Any progressive win will get taken to the courts and overturned in a red or purple district. If you believe otherwise, you have Disney glasses and a magical thinker. 😉

  16. Peggy,

    In 2020, angry “progressives” came out in droves in 21 US US House primaries which were “leaning GOP) competitive districts (before this year’s gerrymandering) and won over moderate DEM candidates. Twenty lost, ALL worse than the 2018 moderate DEM candidate. Now it would be worse and is already happening…

    Sounds a bit like “extremism in defense of liberty…” will take down our democracy?

    Just sayin’ and reporting the data…

  17. Todd is on a roll today…. Too much coffee, maybe? I will agree that as the right has become more extreme, sane people see the erosion of rights and that is causing fear among the middle and the left.

    And fear is useful to get people out to vote. Sure people are afraid. Are they being manipulated? Maybe by the right wing crowd….

    So much criticism has been thrown at the Democratic party for being so diverse with a range of opinions and seemingly ineffective. But, I will tell you the monolithic and coordinated efforts by the minority on the right is getting scary. It is not a conspiracy theory when you can name off numerous organizations that are funding and organizing coordinated attacks on basic rights and policies that go against the best interests of the US citizens or even the planet.

    Yes, allowing corporations to exercise free speech with campaign contributions might have accelerated this process, but it is being helped by a lot of willing individuals that have a twisted view of what America’s future should be. Women should be afraid, as we all should.

  18. Dan writes, …allowing corporations to exercise free speech with campaign contributions might have accelerated this process…”

    Yes, the corruption was in place already, but you are correct; CU sped it along.

    Again, what has the Democratic Party done to correct CU? LOL

    NADA, Nothing!

    And they won’t either because CU has made these politicians millionaires. Even the progressives can’t seem to get any leverage at all against their colleagues. They could refuse to vote on the recent IRA, but they didn’t. They never do.

    They pretended to get arrested for abortion rights, but that was an embarrassing exhibition.

    I’m even hearing on Telegram this morning that Biden will not be running for re-election. He knows it’s over. He is a detriment to the party.

  19. Lester, considering that Biden has passed the most “progressive” agenda since the mid 60s, let’s look at this a bit differently. I don’t want anyone to campaign as angry, but it seems that most people are in favor of progressive policies. Talk policy in short, simple narratives and win.

  20. I am interested in your research and I hope it goes well. I want to ask you to consider whether the movement for normalizing “transwomen are women” and giving transwomen the rights and privileges of women, including access to women in rape shelters, prisons, sports and changing rooms, is a step backwards for women’s rights. In particular, I feel it reduces women’s safety and security to go out in public or compete in sports, and enhances their danger during incarceration. In the UK, 1/3 of convicted male sex offenders identify as women and are moved to women’s prisons. In the US the number is smaller, but the harm they cause in women’s prisons is still alarming. I see many orgs normalizing full inclusion of TW, including the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, even NARAL that tweets “If your feminism doesn’t include trans women and girls, it’s not feminism.” Really?

  21. jack smith; Monday morning quarterbacking doesn’t change the game score or guarantee the next one. Why didn’t the Dems come out for the 2009 election to continue their support for President Obama? No president can control the opposition Senate or force its leader to act and there apparently is no way to force any of them to do the jobs they were elected to and swore an Oath of Office to carry out their responsibilities. We watched as Trump did as Trump pleased and didn’t do what he didn’t want to do as president. We are still finding out what he has done but will it matter enough for Republicans to end their support of a White Nationalist Dictator and will Democrats be determined enough to save democracy, Rule of Law and support the Constitution to vote? Will the Dems come out this November to continue their support for President Biden or be so sickened and fearful of what we are still learning Trump has done to destroy American values? We can only hope we do enough to get them to the polls. Will Trump’s new tactics to retake the presidency work where his old tactics failed? As Sheila pointed our recently; they aren’t even pretending to follow the rules; we will know sometime after November 8th election results are in and authenticated if we have a chance to retain the presidency in 2024. Why does night follow day; why does the sun rise in the east and set in the west? Do you KNOW for a fact what your family and friends will do in this coming election? Do you KNOW if you will even still be here to vote on November 8th? Why are you questioning President Obama’s presidency almost a decade later when tomorrow is what we should be questioning?

  22. Per Todd above:. “The Ds were in power the last two years and couldn’t carry through on hardly any agenda items promised and even lost ground”. Hey smart guy – has it escaped you that a slim majority in the Senate does not equal a majority – especially when 2 senators hardly qualify as democrats.

  23. Don’t blame the folks voting for Manchin and Sinema,they’ve been instructed to Vote Blue No Matter Who.

  24. I’ve mentioned this before but I believe that removing rights to bodily autonomy for women is going to surprise everyone. My hope is that the results from Kansas go national. So few people pay attention to politics and primaries but come October and November the attention span will increase substantially. Women are organizing and making sure that their sisters are informed and paying attention for when the vote counts! What we can’t forget is that men decided our right to vote and we need the men to rise up and support us in numbers never seen before. I know there are caring men out there and they will be affected by this abortion ban too. Haven’t you seen the stampede to doctors for vasectomies? That law was like the 911 on our bodies and it affects every human that reproduces. I look forward to the vote totals in November. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it.

    But, you all know I’m just a dreamer.

  25. Todd — I was with you until I got to
    “The answer you won’t like to hear is that other nations, especially Russia and China, are already ahead of the problem and solution. The solutions will most likely be forced upon the US oligarchy regardless of the military expenditures. Kind of like a vice grip or boa constrictor.”

    Uhhh? How are Russia & China ahead of the problem of women’s equality?????? And if you have such a gripe against oligarchs (and who doesn’t?), isn’t Russia rife with them? And China’s oligarchs are really the Communist party bosses. And what “solutions” are going to be forced upon the US oligarchy???????????? Say what . . . . .?!?!?!?!

    I get where you are coming from – that the golden rule seems to that the man with gold makes the rules. And I believe you are correct when you say the young voters won’t get out. When you have butt heads like Manchin and Sinema pretending to be Democrats and they get to hold up the whole dam process of debating and voting for the most important legislation EVER, the Voting Rights Act, well, who can blame the young folks for not wanting to back either party? I back Democrats because they seem to care just a tad more about the “average” Josephine out there than the old time GOP.

    And the new version of the GOP — the POT (Party of Trump)heads? Well maybe one day the future will reveal they were all infected by brain worms from outer space. That’s the only explanation I can see that makes any sense for the crazy s**t they spout.

    It seems to be a characteristic of human nature and societies since civilization began that the bullies among us take what they want, get more power and then lord it over everyone.

    So I will vote for the Dems and hope for the best.

  26. Peggy – WADR – with the help of AOC, Ilhan Omar and “Defund the Police” from same, the GOP has completely weaponized the word “progressive” so it means something really extreme. When DEMS not in very DEM districts campaign as “progressive” – they mostly are doomed.

  27. Kathy writes, “And China’s oligarchs are the Communist party bosses.”

    Not so.

    You don’t understand the Chinese Communist Party. It has power over the oligarchs who have developed the country via capitalism but with very tight communist control.

    The US government is entirely controlled by the oligarchy and MIC.

  28. Sheila – Good luck with your book. I hope that you also consider this often overlooked fact, which usually gets me into trouble when I bring it up. The “women’s movement” tried to model themselves on the “civil rights movement” of the previous decades.

    There are two differences. First, rhetorical. The successes of the civil right movement came from those seeking everyone to agree on defending civil rights for all, not on “black power”. The women’s movement chose not to use “equal rights” as a slogan, instead focusing on “women” (except for the ERA). Did that have an effect? A good question to explore.

    Second, the civil rights movement was about one segment of society being denied rights that other had. The extreme option would be for all blacks to move to Liberia (stay with me, there is a reason for this absurd statement).

    The women’s movement was both about denied rights and sex-base definitions (Men are from Mars, Women from Venus — I am from a different galaxy, but that is an aside). In the extreme case when all of the women move to Amazon Island, they would go the way of the Shakers, unless they decided that equality didn’t matter and men were to be used as breeders (sound like today’s GOP in reverse?).

    I don’t know what consequences these points did or did not have, just thoughts to explore.

    Lester – You are actually pointing out a problem with Democrats. When the GOP demonized “liberal” the Dems ran screaming “I’m not a liberal, I hate liberals”, as if FDR destroyed the lives of the average American. We have to get beyond labels. The GOP long have called Democrats names under the Progressive=Liberal=Socialist=Communist=Spawn of Satan meme. We need to quit running from labels and run on issues that mean something to the people — and we have to talk to people where they are, not from some focus-group scripted version of an ivory tower.

    As I said before – I don’t want to defund the police, I just want to “free” them to fight crime by turning over some of their tasks to other professionals and not have them waste their time to chase people who have busted tail lights.

    Peggy – I am with you – first we get out the vote; then (1) end the filibuster; (2) fix the courts; (3) pass voting protections. Then we can get on to trying to improve the country once the courts and the rigged representation are eliminated. We only need a one-seat majority in the house and say 52 or 53 Senators.

  29. Ah! Light! Gives a whole new meaning to anti-Christian. Sort of a defender of the Enlightenment.

    One step deeper: The 4th century bishops who invented the Bible, wrote maybe seven of the letters attributed to Paul, and edited the rest of the NT … half of them were Pharisees, as was Paul. They were Paulists. They propagated what Paul called “my gospel” because it was a continuation of the OT savior story. The problem is, their savior became lord, king, and god. Jesus was the demarcation between the OT idols and the NT personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. But the Paulist bishops made him into an idol. And that tradition continued to reinforce the divine right of kings and authoritarianism for 1250 years after they made the Bible.

    So, when the Christian kings loosened their grip in 1648, Enlightenment philosophers stepped up and declared that the people gave authority to rule, not divine lineage of kings. The Founders wrote that into the Constitution, and there you have it: an anti-Christian country. But don’t tell the indoctrinated masses. They’ll kill you to ensure a religious peace.

    Yeah, yeah. Just a little cynical. Today.

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