The War on Women often refers to the current political climate in the United States and its attack on women’s rights. As a term, it typically references laws that perpetuate second-class citizenship for women. Recently passed laws that mandate medically unnecessary ultrasounds for women who plan to have an abortion are a particularly contentious example of the War on Women. Perhaps the most striking example is the new voting restrictions placed on Texas Women who are now forced to show documentation that depicts their maiden name and any deviations from it. This new law is intended to make it harder for women who have married and changed their names to be able to vote. http://www.policymic.com/articles/67635/texas-new-voter-id-laws-may-roll-back-women-s-voting-rights
While these examples demonstrate the War on Women, they do not encompass its scope. The War on Women is not just political; it is an everyday part of women’s lives. Rape Culture and its pervasive influence in American society are part of the War on Women. Blaming a victim of sexual assault rather than his or her rapist is a part of the War on Women. The Glass Ceiling that persists within all occupational fields is a part of the very same war. Intimate partner abuse is a part of the War on Women. Income gaps, gender stereotypes, and referring to women who advocate for equality as “feminazis” are all parts of the War on Women. I suggest that we broaden our understanding of the term to include the breadth of the issues that American Women face, not just the politics that affect our everyday lives. To say that there is no War on Women is to close one’s eyes and ears to American Society.
What can we do about the War on Women?
- Vote and encourage others to vote. Regarding the political aspect of the War on Women, it is our duty as citizens to vote for representatives who will help to fight this war, not perpetuate it.
- Bring light to the issues of sexual assault and intimate partner abuse in society. Blaming the victim of abuse is a central part of the War on Women. I was lucky enough to help run Ohio University’s 6th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes this weekend. This particular event is one of many in which you can highlight violence against women in society and show methods of combatting it (such as demonstrating a healthier form of masculinity).
- Encourage achievement. One core element of the War on Women is the Glass Ceiling that women encounter within their occupational fields. Encouraging women to achieve all that they can and helping them along the way is a necessary part of breaking the Glass Ceiling. Mentoring a younger woman is one of many ways in which we can encourage achievement amongst women.
- Stay informed. Pay attention to the news, keep your eyes peeled for instances of sexual assault and other such violence against women, and see what opportunities there are for you to get involved.
While the War on Women is certainly a part of American politics, there is a great deal more to it. It is political, personal, professional, and present in all parts of American culture. The better our understanding of the War on Women and its extent in our society, the better we will combat it.
Outreach Coordinator for Gender Initiatives
Ohio University Women’s Center