Something struck me the second time I was giving birth. Dammit, women are powerful. I mean majestically, physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually powerful. We can give life! Having done it twice, it’s hard to believe that we are disempowered. It’s hard to believe that what is truly the most incredible thing a human can do with their body has been stolen from us, re-defined as ugly, dirty, embarrassing or unnatural. It doesn’t matter if a woman has children or not, this power is in us. We’re born with this power and it’s something that can’t be taken away. So why are we still disempowered? Why do we still make substantially less than men for the same work? Why is our work as mothers not valued? Why is our sexuality still not ours? Why why why are decisions having to do with our bodies, our health, and our future still legislated by men? WHY are there barely 17% of the total House seats held by women? WHY are we told we aren’t being “ladylike” when we embrace our power (thank you for that one Todd Akin)? The WHY’S go on ad nauseum… but I guess my biggest question is, why are women not more jazzed about this election? Why are we not screaming from the rooftops that each and every one of us needs to VOTE?

There has been a barrage of anti-woman sentiment out there this year. And I suppose one noteworthy point to begin with, is that I think we shocked them this time. The far right thought they could get away with spewing all this anti-women malarkey and that we would just let it slide. But what happened this time was awesome. Women pushed back! The left pushed back! Now the right-wingers are running from many of these statements and old boys club sentiment as fast as they can. But we have to keep this momentum going. We have one month ladies. Can we join forces and make this thing a landslide?

What I have noticed and find shocking, is the lack of enthusiasm surrounding this election. Ladies, if you aren’t riled up now, what’s it gonna take? It’s like sand being kicked in your face in the playground by a bully and just sitting there. Even worse, it’s like sand being kicked in your child’s face by the playground bully and you, their mom, just sitting there. That’s what this boils down to. The names they are calling Sandra Fluke? That’s us. The rights they are trying to strip away? Those are ours! The casual nature in which they try to “define” rape, or violence, or abuse? We are those women. Our safety is at stake. Our silence is consent and our vote is our voice. Let’s get active ladies. Let’s get out every vote we can. Let’s make this election a mandate. A mandate to finally ensure women the respect, dignity and equality we all deserve! This is now. This is our call to action. Let’s finally, once and for all, take back the power that is so inherently and naturally ours!

In case you need a refresher course, here are just a few of the greatest, anti-woman hits from the last few months. Thank you Katrina vanden Heuvel** for this list of grievances:

*January 2012: Susan B.Komen would stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood. After outrage, Komen reversed decision.

* Feb. 2012: House Republicans organized a hearing on access to contraception and invited no women. 5 men shared their “expertise” about the issue.

* Feb. 2012: When Sandra Fluke protested being left off this panel, Rush Limbaugh hurled crude comments at her. Including calling her a “slut” and demanding women post “sex tapes” online if they want free contraception.

* Feb. 2012: When asked to comment on Limbaugh’s comments, Mitt Romney merely stated it’s not the language he would have used.

* Feb. 2012: Foster Friess stated he didn’t understand what the contraception fuss was about. “Back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t costly.”

* Feb. 2012 (busy anti-woman month!) The Virginia House of Delegates tried to pass a measure requiring women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. The uproar this caused forced them to scale back, but the ultrasound bill holds.

* August 2012: Republican Senate Candidate Todd Akin said on TV “ If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing [pregnancy] down. Although many Republicans initially distanced themselves from Akin and his comment, those same folks are now back supporting him.

* Sept. 2012: GOP Convention platform called for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion.

And dang it, did you see the debate last night?! All of the rights that I, as a woman, have taken for granted were not even mentioned! To share just a few: the right to an abortion, the right to free health care (if necessary), the right to marry whom I choose, the general upward mobility, equality and well being of women. The right to enjoy Sesame Street and Big Bird, for crying out loud!  I worry that my daughter won’t be able to take these same rights for granted.  I worry that she will have to fight for ground we believed we already had covered. I worry about this for all of you. This is no time to stand by. I know you have the power to organize, ladies…….so let’s do this!

Sarah Sophie

** See Katrina vanden Heuvel’s article “A New ‘Year Of The Woman” for more inspiration.

  • Sandra Rodriguez

    Thank you for writing this. I too am outraged by the far rights views on women. I am also angry that there are women out there who are siding with these ideas. I’m tired of people basing their votes on the fear that Obama is a socialist (when some don’t even know what that word actually means) instead of on policies and facts. I’m voting for the person who is going to help me get reproductive care when needed as well as treatment if I ever get cancer. I understand the economy sucks at the moment but we outsource so much that so many jobs have left the US and it will take a lot of time to bring some of those jobs back. So instead of just focusing on that we should be looking at every single policy!

  • Math Lijo

    I am French but I follow your upcoming election and I was shocked by this article. We sometimes forgot that even in 2012 and in the US, some women have to fight again and again for the same rights…
    Health care, abortion and protection against violence are rights that we have to protect ! So ladies, vote and make th world proud of you !

  • Mary Bolewitz

    I will start off by saying that I am a woman, I am for women’s rights and I am a conservative libertarian. And personally, I don’t want to be defined by my genitals. I don’t want people to judge me because I am a women. While, I understand the frustration with the whole abortion issue, is it really worth the risk of letting our economy get worse? I am just voicing the opposing view because it really is something that bothers me. Why should I only consider the things that affect ME as a woman when there are so many other causes that affect people all over the world? And also, it’s not really in Romney’s power to completely outlaw abortion. I am pretty sure the focus is going to be on our failing economy. That’s where everyone’s focus should be. How are we going to defend our rights if America is falling apart beneath us? Also, 1) there is very little support on Romney’s outsourcing record, 2) Obamacare may guarantee insurance but it doesn’t guarantee good healthcare for EVERYONE 3) I don’t think Obama is a socialist, I just really don’t agree with his fiscal policies. This is just my point of view and I wanted to express that there is more than one side to this coming from a female voter. You don’t have to agree with me but, thank you for listening.

    • Shandra Goldfinger

      While I respect that you don’t agree with the democrat’s financial policies, I urge you to fully read up on Romney’s tax/finance plan. I’ve yet to find any non-partisan studies that show the math will work. The ONLY studies that show his plan could work include the assumption that we will have at least 3% growth every year. His plan for tax cuts on the wealthiest people will either have to come along with raising taxes for those making less than $250,000 a year or with extreme budget cuts. He vaguely says he will close some loopholes and end some deductions people currently take on their taxes. I believe that medicare, medicaid, and education will take extreme gits under Romney because he simply doesn’t care about people in the lowest income brackets. Paul Ryan is the one who stopped the bi-partisan budget from going through, and I believe it is mostly to make Obama look bad and increase the chances of a Republican win in this election. If Romney and Ryan had a plan for our budget where the math actually works, I would be more understanding of people planning for vote for him. But they don’t.

      • Shandra Goldfinger

        *cuts… I have no idea how I turned that into gits.

  • Tori Bow

    I am British and though I still think we have a long way to go it really shocks me how obviously and unashamedly sexist a large number of Americans are. The legal protection or lack thereof for womens’ rights is disgraceful and a discredit to a powerful nation full of possibilities. I wish you all the luck in the world for your campaign and upcoming elections! x

  • Carly Vinkavich

    I am with Mary on this one. People get so wrapped up in one issue and lose sight over the bigger issue. The economy is so much more important right now and it somewhat trumps all other issues. Does it upset me that women don’t get equal rights? Absolutely. Do I believe that abortion should be an option in special cases? Yes, I would hate to see it banned, but if we are being honest that would never happen. This is not a Monarchy, if Romney won he would not be able to ban abortion, even if it was his greatest wish, that is not how that works. That being said I think it is important for voters to see past their personal wants and dreams and look at the bigger picture. We cannot continue the way things have been going. It has been 4 years and all of that Hope and Change has not really gotten anyone anywhere except possibly even more into debt. Just to wrap up, I totally understand your point but there is more at play here than just us women.

  • Triada Papa

    I’m an Australian living in London, I’m an Economist by trade and have been following the US election very closely.

    First of all, there is a HUGE economic arguement for women to have control over their own bodies, least of all the ability to be able to organise their lives and have children when they are financially able to do so.

    Secondly, it’s hardly a selfish issue, it does affect 50 per cent of the population, yes that’s right, women make up approximately half of the country. How women can stand by and allow themselves to be called ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’, allow for state sanctioned rape (the vaginal probe) and sit back and allow for men to make decisions about their health on their behalf is absurd. It’s your body, it’s your life, as the country of liberty and freedom you should be defending your rights.

    Thirdly, this really should not be a party specific issue – whilst I am happy to argue the different economic policies of Romney and Obama on their own merits, as they should be, womens reproductive rights and the way they are being discussed in the US at the moment is ridiculous and absurd, and should not even be on the agenda for debate. The fact that it has become a party issue and that the women (and men – because contraception affects them too, I do get a little frustrated when it is described as a women’s issue, it does take two to make or not make baby) of the USA stand by and allow for people to make this a political issue, yes you are standing by.

    Mary and Carly are right, there are bigger problems that need to be discussed in terms of the economy, and like I said this should be a non-issue, but the Republicans have made it an issue in order to appeal to demographic that might agree with their extreme views.

    So whether you agree with the economic policy of Obama or Romney should be irrevelant, you (as a female) should be able to make it clear to your democratically elected leaders that restricting women’s reproductive rights is off the agenda as a political issue. Write to your local Republican’s, or to the Romney campaign, tell them that hey I like your ideas about ax cuts, but I will not be called a slut, whore or prostitute for wanting access to contraception, that you will not put an aspirin in between your knees, that you will have the final say on whether you need an abortion, and that you will not allow a camera to be inserted into your vagina for no justified reason. Tell them that you want to vote conservative, but you want to control your body. Political leaders and their staff read these letters, they really do. I used to work in Government and I would spend hours responding to letters and emails from voters.

    However, the fact that it is Republicans that are running with these lines should not be lost on you when you cast your vote. Be cautious of what they might do if they are in power (maternity leave, breast cancer screening, pap smears).

    Have some confidence, be assertive and tell your leaders that you deserve better.

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  • Tim Whittemore
  • Jasmine Dilks

    i am in the uk and am outraged by this. Also at the moment our abortion time is looking at being decreased (also decided by a bloke). I think we are slowly going back in time it wont be long before us women have no say again. We need to do something fast!

  • Carol Ann Goldstein

    I was reintroduced to Lesley Gore and her music by the “You Don’t Own Me” PSA which I found on the website of “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell” on 10/22/2012. I think this psa video is great and very timely on an ongoing basis – not just for this election – because we need to keep reminding females of their rights. Lesley, Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your music with us in this great video.
    Lesley, may you continue to create and perform great music.
    And a big thank you to Sarah Sophie Flicker for creating this video and to the entire cast of this great video.

  • Carol Ann Goldstein

    Sarah your article is great and true for all women. Thank you so much for going further by creating the psa video “You Don’t Own Me” with the help of Lesley Gore and her song and the great cast you gathered to be in the video.

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