I’m a woman of a “certain age”–in other words, old–and I’ve lived through some fairly significant social changes, especially changes in the status of women. And I’ve seen enough to recognize a backlash when I’m experiencing it.
I’ve written before about how important reproductive autonomy is to women’s emancipation–not to mention their health. Without the ability to control their own childbearing decisions, women are hobbled in innumerable ways–returned to a time when they were economically dependent on their husbands/partners, and a time when they were far less employable.
There are plenty of other reasons to be outraged by the decision in Dobbs– not least because it elevates dogma held by one religious sect over equally sincere and longstanding beliefs held by others–but it is the decision’s attack on women’s equality that is most egregious.
Dobbs is just the most visible part of a wider war on that equality.
I recently became aware that among the books being attacked by self-described “conservatives” is a popular middle-grade book series “Girls Who Code.” The books are about–duh— girls who code, focusing on the adventures of a group of young girls who are part of a coding club at school.
According to a report in Daily Kos, the series was added to PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans, a nationwide list of restricted literature.
After hearing about the book ban, Reshma Saujani, founder of the Girls Who Code nonprofit organization, shared her thoughts with Business Insider.
“I was just shocked,” Saujani told Insider. “This is about controlling women and it starts with controlling our girls and what info they have access to.”
She added: ”In some ways we know that book banning has been an extreme political tool by the right—banning books to protect our kids from things that are ‘obscene’ or ‘provocative’—but there is nothing obscene or provocative about these books.”
According to the website associated with the Girls Who Code organization, the goal is to “change the face of tech” by closing the gender gap in new entry-level tech jobs.
“Moms for Liberty”–the group that has been actively trying to ban books that focus on topics like critical race theory, sex education, and inclusive gender language–is said to be responsible for adding the series to the banned books index.
The Girls Who Code books are used to reach children and encourage them to code, but because of how “liberal” they seem due to the diverse characters and the message that girls can do anything, conservatives are looking to ban them.
Saujani noted that removing the books not only hinders visibility for women in technology fields but also diversity in the industry, as most of the characters in the series are people of color.
“You cannot be what you cannot see,” she said. “They don’t want girls to learn how to code because that’s a way to be economically secure.”
Apparently, showing girls of various races engaged in coding is “woke”–and as we all know, being “woke” horrifies the White Christian Nationalists who want to take America back to the “good old days.”
According to PEN America, books were banned in 5,049 schools with a combined enrollment of nearly 4 million students in 32 states between July 2021 and July 2022. About 41% of banned books on the list had LGBTQ+ themes or characters who are LGBTQ+. The other majority of banned books featured characters of color or addressed issues of race.
The Republican determination to return America to those (mis-remembered) “good old days” explains a lot of other things, including Congressional votes against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and against the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act among others. The Party even opposes the League of Women Voters, insisting that the League’s stands on behalf of women and against gerrymandering have remade the organization into a “collection of angry leftists rather than friendly do-gooders.”
Today’s GOP labels anyone–male or female– who supports gender (or racial or religious) equality–as “angry leftists.”
Forty-two years ago, my husband and I met as part of a Republican city administration. When we married, a reporter told me we were considered “nice, but a bit right of center.” Our political philosophies haven’t changed–but the GOP has. Dramatically. Today’s Republicans now consider us part of that “angry leftist” mob–along with most of the then-Republicans with whom we worked.
Make no mistake: today’s GOP is a radical, dangerous cult that bears virtually no relationship to the political party that was once home to people like Richard Lugar and William Hudnut–or even Ronald Reagan. Its war on “woke-ness” and women is part of its hysterical effort to return America to a time when White Protestant males ruled the roost.
November 8th is about whether we are going back.