Corporations won. Women lost. Yes, all women.
Despite having been born to activist parents, despite notches on my resume “bedpost” for major political magazine and political think tank and despite an undoubtedly political agenda emerging time and again in my writing, I don’t consider myself a particularly political person.
I don’t believe my vote makes much of a difference, but I vote. I share a lot of political content on Facebook and I sign a lot of petitions. I operate at what is, for me, a comfortable level of activism. But my 65-year-old mama, who still goes out and marches in the streets for her beliefs, now there is a person who is actively trying to change the world.
During my final semester of graduate school, while taking a course in feminism, I confessed to my professor that I did not consider myself a very political person. She pressed me to make a real inquiry into that statement. In particular, she urged me to look at my writing, my art, and my teaching, and ask myself how fair it is to honestly say — or believe — that I am not political.
The result of my reflections was the realization that I have a voice and a means to make that voice heard. And, therefore, an obligation to speak up. If and when I pick up that gauntlet, if only for that day, I am political.
Today, I am picking up that gauntlet.
If you are a woman. If you came from a woman. If you are a person who loves a woman. If you are a person living in the U.S. today who cares about OUR human rights. If you are aware of the Supreme Court’s ruling today in the Hobby Lobby case. Then. You. Should. Be. Livid.
I am not going to insult your intelligence with a poor recapping. Read the case. Read The Guardian, The New York Times, The Huffington Post. Scroll through your Facebook news feed or search #HobbyLobby on Twitter. Go and get your news however you like it. Up in arms or ROTFL. Or both. As Emily Saliers said, “You have to laugh at yourself, because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.”
At the end of the day, the Hobby Lobby decision boils down to this: Corporations won. Women lost. Yes, all women.
And not just women. People. People lost. People, not corporations. Because, despite the Supreme Court’s unconscionable ruling in Citizens United, corporations are not, in fact, people.
The word “misogyny” has been thrown around a lot today. Because a lot of people loathe that term, I think it important to ask whether the definition can accurately be applied to today’s ruling.
The Oxford Dictionaries define misogyny as “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.”
Do the Supreme Court justices who comprised the majority in today’s ruling dislike women? Do they find women contemptible? We might speculate, but we cannot answer with any certainty.
Ingrained prejudice is another matter.
America is still reeling from the recent Santa Barbara shootings, and the resultant battle cry of #YesAllWomen is still reverberating from sounding boards all the world over. Women — and the millions who support them — have a voice and we are making that voice heard.
The Hobby Lobby decision was not released in a vacuum. It has entered a public space where we have already said, “Enough is enough.” We are already standing, together, for an elevated position in our society and culture. We are not afraid to make our demands known: Protect our basic rights as citizens and as human beings. Respect us. And treat us as equals.
Let’s focus on that last idea for a moment, in light of the question of misogyny and the Hobby Lobby decision. Is it ingrained prejudice against women to rule that their corporate employers can deny them access to birth control? What if that corporate employer is constitutionally protected in providing men access to vasectomies and Viagra — male birth control and male sexual enhancement — while denying women access to the birth control pill?
A failure in equality, to say the least. Have we reached the level of ingrained prejudice against women yet?
Okay, so it’s misogynistic. Ludicrous. Offensive. Antagonistic. Punitive. Shameful. Reprehensible. Closed-minded. Hateful. Sexist. And, yes, prejudiced.
But maybe you don’t care about women’s rights. Maybe a decision like this has zero impact on your life. Maybe you think, “If women don’t like it, they should go work somewhere else.” But the problem with that logic is that it ignores the ominous cloud hovering over this dismal day in women’s history; it ignores the growing rights — and power — of corporations.
I am reminded of the famous Martin Niemöller quote:
“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew; Then they came for m e— and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
First, they said corporations are people. Then, they said those “people” can deny women birth control. That those “people” are protected — at the expense of human beings — in their asserted religious beliefs and moral convictions. Corporations — entities that, by their very existence, are incapable of having religious beliefs or moral convictions — have been extended constitutional rights that were written solely to protect people. Actual people.
If this is what they have done so far, what’s next?
The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken out in favor of corporations, against women. I know how I used my voice today. How will you use yours?