Reproduction and Control

Written by Jennifer Sullivan for the Green Party National Women’s Caucus ~ February 2023

Woman holding a sign that says "Reproductive rights are human rights!"Ever since the paternal Europeans arrived on the shores of the “New World” women were brought along and have been the victims of a combination of blatant and quiet setbacks. The men who came wanted that freedom that could not be found in the Old World. What they did haul along with them was the abject denial of women having any sort of the freedom that they may’ve sought.

The tendency of life in this hemisphere, prior to this, women were held in special regard and honor. Women were known as healers, life giving child bearers for the tribal survival and wise consultants who thoughtfully weigh the better paths. When the more impulsive and testosterone powered men might make rash decisions, women looked at the bigger picture. Property was shared and women enjoyed equality.

With their arrival, Europeans brought the customs that held women back – often in the guise of being protective measures – even as they were dominated and “protectively” beaten by their husbands or other overlords. They were essentially property that should not speak up, should follow orders and be subject to a man’s discipline; whether father, husband, or designated male in charge. Men approved their dress, limited their tasks to the home front and generally had all the say in matters of property ownership (much of the latter continued into the 1980’s). Arranged marriages still happened leaving little freedom of choice for sexual pleasure or choice of whose children the woman would bear.

Women, just using their curious minds in attaining healing knowledge, risked being condemned as witches – as opposed to their Native counterparts. The forced slavery of Africans even parsed out the men as getting voting rights with the 14th amendment, while women waited until the 19th amendment for their voting opportunity. Granted these amendments were more on paper than effectual.

This subservience prevailed until women became “liberated” in the 1960’s. It was a time for shaking off that old, prescribed lifestyle that everyone had been pigeon-holed into. Men fought the draft. Women got birth control, Roe and a renewed sense of power as higher education bolstered that natural curiosity.

Women found a rightful place as equals with the rebels against the killing wars and with those in the struggle for black and Chicano power that was simply seeking self-determination and justice. When the marching was done it left some gains, except there were those who very much resented women having the right to abortion. When women had the audacity to enter the working world and dared to strive for power — there were various forms of resistance. They asked: why shouldn’t women get back to the kitchen and why should they take a good paying job from a man trying to feed his family? The cried that it’s selfish for a woman to not be there to raise her children.

These old guard “family values” have lurked in the background ever trying to hold women back as they became successful and essential in the business world. For one thing, employers could get better workers for less pay so some were happy about that. The good old boy network still dominated elected political office so strongly that they could not even pass the Equal Rights Amendment to right centuries of wrongs and just say that women have equal rights! It only recently, got that last of 38 states for ratification — and it is still sitting there dangling on a technicality. So even though the glass ceiling got some cracks, it looks like that battle has not been won yet. In a truly just society this equality should be legal … one would think.

Suddenly, Roe v. Wade is overturned after 50 years. Those folks, always a lurking, finally got that prize. And there’s more… When it was decided that the legendary Harriet Tubman should replace that Southern rebel white supremist Andrew Jackson on the $20.00 bill; the secretary of the treasury, Steve Mnuchin, just said
“not on my watch”. So women find that they are not equal enough to even be symbolically on our nation’s paper currency? Women here, in the most wealthy nation in the world, still are more likely to live in poverty that is similar to 3rd world nations. Our Native American, black and trans sisters are still the most murdered and disappeared. Again – screaming to us that we do not really matter.

Reproduction is a powerful way to control women and keep them down, distracted and struggling. The Women’s Caucus of the Green Party says: WE WANT SOME ANSWERS HERE. We no longer will accept things that we cannot change. We must change the things we cannot accept!