Why Women Will Save America

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 They aren”t just outdated.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.


  1. Back in the 60’s, I was working for a local civic organization and completed a service requested by one of the male members. He was pleased with the results and said, “Hey, you’re pretty smart for a woman!” He meant it as a sincere compliment. Nuff said. It’s still out there.

  2. It is suggested that the SBC member churches and any other church that violates women’s rights should have their tax-exempt status revoked due to their societal stances. Churches that are involved in the political process should pay property taxes, including Catholic churches. Additionally, daycare facilities that compete with private interests should pay taxes on the income they collect from parents.

    By holding these organizations accountable for their actions, we can determine who can support themselves and who cannot. It is not a viable strategy for churches to take over commercial properties since taxpayers subsidize the building.

    To ensure that tax-exempt language is updated and revised, the IRS requires sufficient resources and support from Congress. This is why Republicans are trying to kill any monies going to the IRS to improve themselves and add agents in the field to catch tax cheats (aka political donors).

  3. I certainly hope you’re right. Down in my neck of the woods, the most vitriolic rhetoric often comes from the women on the right. The use of successful women to suppress the ambitions of young women and girls seems, in my opinion, to be an unforgivable betrayal of our future.

  4. It’s funny that the SBC should be the focus of so much news. This organization made themselves irrelevant to American Ideals when they split from main stream Baptists before the Civil War over the issue of slavery. Several other religious groups split around that time, but they have re-merged. The SBC has pointedly remained separate and continues to widen that gap.

  5. The speakers at that TP leadership summit are laughable. They all have careers that most likely pay very well, yet had no problem telling other women that THEY should not have careers outside the home. If the women attending that conference had even half a brain they would have all walked out when Clark spoke.

  6. The utter fallacy that women have always stayed at home, keeping house and having children denies the facts that women have always worked outside of the home while raising their children. Who did all of the services that women of privilege (white, Christian, married to a white Christian man) required so that they could “raise” their children? Who delivered the child, served as a wet nurse or nanny, who was hired to clean, bake, launder and sew for the household? Who taught in the schools, nursed the ill, fetched the coffee, arranged the calendar, handled the filing, took the dictation, etc., etc., etc. Women were partners on farms and ranches, working as hard as their men without any of the autonomy of choice men enjoyed.
    The selective history of women’s place in the world uses the skewed lenses of patriarchal religion to tell a romanticized lie, intended to keep the patriarchy in power.
    Life expectancy has grown, for women especially, in the last century and more. The advancements in healthcare for women means that, until recently, women had much more of a chance of surviving into older age, past the time of actual child-rearing.
    To deny the reality is to demean and denigrate their very existence in the world. Men would not even exist without them. Partners not property, indeed.

  7. When the plow was invented – even before Sheila’s birth – it changed the entire dynamic of the human condition. Males became the main growers of food and women’s roles were relegated more to child rearing and domicile management. Thing is, the plow allowed humans to grow surplus food – more than the community could consume at any given period. This surplus was hoarded and stored for periods of drought and potential famine. Guess who managed the distribution of that surplus to the community. The community’s male “leaders” appointed their lackeys to control it. These men became the prototype-priests of the community and assumed “spiritual” control.

    Over the next millennia, these priests formed organized religions that codified the roles of men and women in the communities and outlying areas. And, guess what. They’re still at it. Take your pick: Muslim, Jew, Christian, Bhudist (sic)… All of these religions subjugate women.

    See the connection? I know you do. So, with the Republicans leading their fascist dogma my clutching a Bible while wrapped in the flag, their fascism will continue this subjugation of women in our society. But another question is begged: Why would any self-respecting woman allow herself to be put under the thumb of the Republican party or any religion that dictates that they are inferior beings?

    Yes. Will voting out Republicans be enough? Will enough women remember that the voting booth is sacrosanct and their husbands won’t know how they voted?

  8. Vern gets the silver dollar for pointing out who has always been the source of oppression for women — the church or religion. A rigid cultural upbringing placed men as the head of the household and women as servants.

    The institutions lobbying the government for continued oppression must be taxed out of existence.

  9. As a Progressive Christian, I just like to point out that when Jesus rose from the dead, it was the women who carried the message to the men. Women played an enormously important role in the beginnings of Christianity. It was later when the men came in to set the rules. The Episcopal Church now has more women bishops than you can count. In Indiana, the former bishop was a woman, and the current bishop, Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, is the first African-American women to be voted a bishop in the 275 years of the Episcopal Church…Yes, here in Indiana. Go figure…like a lot of liberal Christians, i’m deeply sadden that the unreligious right have driven even more people away from any kind of Christian faith. It’s really depressing to be lumped into the same cesspool.

  10. The focus today on the SBC is another reason I became an atheist. If any religion views me other than equal than I’m gone, c’ya goodbye. I’m not putting up with that sh*t.

  11. Unfortunately, I knew and know many brainwashed women who agree they are lesser, slaves, or kept and are ok with that. It’s a man’s world, they say.

    Not me!

  12. Two thoughts:

    1. “Moms for Liberty” is out-energizing/out “marketing” the abortion rights folks
    2. Polls suggest that it is the 35 and under women who feel very strongly about abortion rights and they just don’t always vote

  13. My friend and retired Archivist of the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, is a member of a Lutheran Church in the area headed up by a married lesbian pastor with no apparent ill effects on the congregation’s spiritual views. Thus we are what we are, and that is not subject to right and wrong, which involve knowing choice.

    As to Vern’s excellent mini-lecture for the day and to expand, it was not just the plow but the gang plow and McCormick’s reapers and other labor saving devices that figure into the economics of the Twenties. I took a degree in economics once upon a time (uh, post Adam Smith) and discovered there was and is a rather quiet disagreement about the cause or causes of the Great Depression which were in the mix among some in academia.

    Thus there was a surge in the introduction of labor-saving farm devices after WW I which displaced millions of farm workers who went to the cities and the factories that made these labor saving devices there were unable to soak up such massive numbers and hence, the story goes, we suffered massive unemployment and the Great Depression. I had always assumed that the Great Depression (in which I lived, by the way) was caused by Republican mismanagement of whatever the underlying causes of such disaster were. As a hungry kid, I bought the Hoover line.

    I am now inclined to believe that such sudden labor killing improvements were only one of several confluencing factors which “caused” the Great Depression since such catastrophe waxed global, including societies where sudden improvements in farming were not a factor, but I’ll leave the definitive answers to such as the Pikettys and Leibowitzes since an authoritative answer to this quiet disagreement is beyond my pay grade.

  14. Upon this note, I suggest you watch the documentary Shiny Happy Family on Prime video. It is about the Dugger family of 19 children and counting and the religious group they belong to. Hold on America if this religious cult really does get hold of America and continues to change the laws to be in line with their thinking. They are already successful to some extent in states like Arkansas, Texas, etc.

  15. As to the topic today, I think Sheila is on to something with her prediction that the women will save our democracy in the fall of ’24, and I think they will be joined by the youth of America who have finally decided to get off the couch and save THEIR future (if we can get them off the couch with door-knocking organization). This bears repeating > That this election in November ’24 (as measured by retention of our democracy and in view of the normalization of its destruction by Trumpers) is the most important one we have had since Reconstruction. Big Deal? Huge!

  16. A Women’s Leadership Summit that instructs women that they have no business being leaders. Why does this not surprise me? Because it is just what I’ve come to expect from people who deny reality in order to cling to religious doctrine. But reality doesn’t cease to exist just because those fools deny it. I agree with Sheila. Women who have learned to appreciate freedom are not going to go back to being doormats.

  17. Women, who birth the species, were relegated to 2nd class citizenship, in part, as I understand it,
    because they tend to die in childbirth. That still happens, here, in this “exceptional” country,
    more than in other Western Democracies.
    In any case, I surely hope you are right, sheila.

  18. My daughter visited us yesterday with her children. She’s a lot more educated and savey than me. She works full time at a stressful law job and I think is a wonderful daughter and mom. I was having trouble ordering Sheila’s new book on line and she ordered it for us. We’re both looking forward to reading it.
    We’ve come a long way over time and are still pushing to safely be ourselves and make our own decisions as women.
    My granddaughter was recently baptized with Bishop Burrows presiding; Nancy explained earlier that she is the first women bishop in Episcopal Church.
    I see progress for us women and am thankful that we have the framework to keep moving toward a more just future.

  19. So, I find it interesting All of the roiling was going on about child care, daycare, birth control, careers and such.

    Do they take into consideration how many women are heads of households? What is a woman supposed to do? Maybe welfare? It seems that’s what they’re pushing. If a woman is ahead of a household, birth control would be important, also, child care and daycare. So, if they royal against birth control, women are not going to quit being intimate. And I doubt if their partners are going to be stepping up to the plate so to speak. That’s why so many women will choose abortion.

    Equal pay is not guaranteed either. So, a woman with children especially is going to have to work harder and longer to provide for their family. Is that fair and equitable? The best boss I ever had was a woman. I enjoyed working for her, she was fair and she was balanced, lol!

    If a young woman wants to have a secular career, or a theocratic one, that is a choice she will make herself as being a free moral agent. The freedom to make her own decisions. No one can live by anyone else’s conscience, you have to live by your own.

  20. Going off of Vernon’s comment on the plow – the old theory that “men hunted; women gathered” has been challenged. A burial site has been found with a woman’s body and hunting weapons, similar to burial sites for men. Division of labor between the sexes may not have been that strict.

    IMO – It is probable that the “always been that way” crowd is not only morally wrong, but factually incorrect.

  21. It amazes me, yet doesn’t surprise me that America has not yet passed the Equal Rights Amendment. The “Christian Majority” is dwindling and showing the world just how anachronistic and misogynistic their view is of “a woman’s place.” Although the “subservient and proud” women will vote to remain second class citizens, the majority of women will vote blue for equality and freedom in 2024

  22. Gerald, the Civil War brought many machines to the farms as prices rose to supply the Armies of the North (and South). When the soldiers returned to the farms, many were unfit for farm work and even more were not needed. WWI was significant, but not as determining as you indicate.
    As for the Great Depression, it was caused by too many Yankee victories in the 1920s. That decade began with the Dodgers in the World Series and the Great Depression didn’t end until 1941 when the Dodgers returned to the World Series.
    As an economist, I am dismayed by the failure of my profession to recognize this important relationship. ;=)

  23. Some of the most famous heads of other countries have been women. It’s sad to see groups in our own country that fight against the rights of women to make their own decision about how they live their lives. I don’t see more liberal women trying to tell others how to live their lives. Every human being is entitled, male and female needs to take their own paths without those who don’t agree with their views.

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