A million years ago, when I was in law school, I wasn’t a committed feminist. I didn’t become a lawyer so that I could challenge the rules keeping women second-class citizens; rather, I wanted to be a lawyer, and to the extent existing rules got in the way, I opposed them.
Over the (many) ensuing years, I’ve become increasingly opposed to anti-woman social norms–and laws based upon those norms. They aren”t just outdated. They’re unjust, unAmerican–and stupid. (Denying women equality is unjust and unAmerican because such measures ignore differences between individuals in favor of imposing disabilities based on group identity. They’re stupid because they keep women from contributing to the general welfare.)
Over the past decades, as women, African Americans, LGBTQ citizens and other marginalized folks have improved their status in society, the White Christian males who view that improvement with alarm–seeing it as a loss of their own paternalistic primacy–have increasingly resisted.
A couple of recent examples:
Southern Baptists are rebelling against the very notion that women might be pastors in that denomination. In our recent book, Morton Marcus and I explored the immense role played by fundamentalist religion in keeping women subservient and defining “women’s place” as necessarily and permanently subordinate. The linked article, published on June 13th, reported:
Southern Baptists will have the opportunity to vote on a measure that would enshrine a ban on women pastors within the denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee decided Monday.
The decision by the SBC Executive Committee ahead of the 2023 SBC annual meeting doesn’t guarantee the eventual passage of the measure, which is a proposed amendment to the SBC constitution. The amendment is one of several major decisions facing Southern Baptist voting delegates, called messengers, that will permanently affect the status of women pastors in the SBC.
The vote was triggered by appeals from two congregations that had been ousted for having women pastors. (Update: women lost that vote. Resoundingly.)
Then there’s the radical Right organization, Turning Point USA. Turning Point recently sponsored a truly bizarre “Women’s Leadership Summit.” (Speaking of bizarre, the conference offered “bejeweled” guns for sale….pictures at the link…)
Speakers like TPUSA influencer Alex Clark, Fox host Laura Ingraham, and The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens both covertly and overtly discouraged the audience of young women from pursuing high-powered careers,” she reports. Clark railed against the young women in the audience for using birth control, blasted “day care,” and take-your-pick.
Clark claimed, “The feminist movement is in large part to blame for the fracturing of the traditional home, where women were coerced outside of their natural roles as mothers into the workforce.” She went on: “The feminist movement gave way to the notion that a woman could have her cake and eat it too. You can have the career you want and you can raise your children in a positive, educational environment, aka day care.” She described it as “a lie to tell women that we can have it all.” Just because day care is “normal or common doesn’t mean it’s right,” according to Clark
Fundamentalist podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey opened day two of the conference. She, unsurprisingly, struck a notably more pointed Christian extremist tone than the other speakers, though religious rhetoric was ubiquitous throughout the conference. “I can tell you what your highest calling is,” she said. It’s not to have a career, “it’s not even to be a wife and a mom, as wonderful as those things are. Your highest calling is to glorify God.”
Her version of God, of course…
This “summit” provided unambiguous evidence of the real purpose of contemporary assaults on reproductive choice. If women can choose if and when to have babies, they will be tempted to pursue “callings” that are inconsistent with “Godly” subservience to men.
Over the last 100 years, women have made remarkable progress—from laws that essentially made them the property of their fathers or husbands, to today’s almost-equal legal parity with men. In the years since I was in law school, that progress has increasingly infuriated the White Christian “culture warriors” who see women’s advancement toward equality as an existential threat to their social dominance–a dominance they have convinced themselves is divinely ordained.
The elections of 2024 will decide many important issues, arguably including the continued viability of American democracy.. Our constitutional democracy requires (among other things) the right of American women to bodily autonomy–something men have long enjoyed.
Women’s civic equality is impossible without that autonomy–and women know it.
In 2024, electoral choices about choice will be clear. Republicans at the municipal, state and federal levels are all committed to the GOP’s anti-choice position, while Democrats are pro-choice.
Which is why I predict women will vote Blue and save America.