The Real War on Women

April 18, 2012

It seems that some people think we are at war.

Against whom?  Why all different people!

The most notable is, of course, the war on women.  There are all kinds of grenades being lobbed around that.  Ever since the whole contraception thing a few months ago, some women seem to think that someone wants to take their birth control away.  Or you’ve got Hilary Rosen attacking Ann Romney on the air.  Just a few days ago, comedienne Sarah Silverman tweeted a satirical update with a photo, claiming she got a “quickie aborsh” before “Roe v. Wade gets overturned.”

Of course, there’s a war going on, against women, blacks, white men, the middle class, the poor, the rich, the Christians, the atheists…

…Or is there?

There is a real war.  It’s a war that no one is interested in fighting.

Don’t Drink the Water

This week, 150 Afghan schoolgirls went to the hospital.

Their school’s drinking water had been poisoned.  Some of the girls remained in the hospital in critical condition.  Islamist radicals are to blame.  Ten years ago, when the Taliban was deposed, the ban against female education went with them.  But sympathizers carry out regular attacks against women.  They think educating women is anti-Islam.  Girls have had acid thrown in their faces on the way to school.  And now this.

I will say this, and I mean it: anyone who thinks it’s God’s will that you poison schoolchildren can go to hell.  I know, not very loving.  Jesus, forgive me.

This is the Real War on Women

I want you to contrast that scene, of 150 school girls laying in the hospital with the smug, self-righteous “humor” of an American comedian, fueling a non-existent controversy.  Has anyone come to our doors, taking our birth control away from us?  Is the repeal of Roe v. Wade even a remote possibility?  Yes, Mitt Romney says that’s what he wants to do.  Doesn’t mean he has a shred of a chance.  That was campaign wishful thinking.

Has anyone poisoned you?  Has anyone thrown acid in your face?

My guess is no.

Just by the fact that you are reading this blog, I know that you are at least educated beyond the level of those schoolgirls.  You have a computer and electricity to run it.  You aren’t working in a sweatshop.  And (checking visitor stats), you likely live among the wealthiest of Earthlings.  You literally have a fraction of the problems of other people.

Sounds to me like we throw the word “war” around awfully easily.  Our definition of “war” seems to have changed.  My generation missed the civil rights movement.  That was a war.  Vietnam was a war.  The Great Depression was a war.

Now, our definition of “war” is some people camping in city parks and tweeting on their smartphones.

What Is It Good For?

Here’s the thing.  Everyone wants to get behind a cause.

Better yet, we want the cause to be us.  

We want to be victims and casualties of a war that is mostly in our imaginations.

We want to blame our parents our whole lives for how much our lives suck.  And when we can’t do that anymore, we’ll blame our boss, our spouse, the government, the “man,” God, whoever we can find.  We want people to know how hard our life is.  We want to be called “heroes.”  We want them to make our lives easier, or at least tweet about how awesome we are.  We make up a war where the world is the aggressor and we are the victims.

War is good for a lot of things, when it comes to inflating our own egos.

There is no massive conspiracy against you.  There is no war on Christians or blacks or white men or women…at least in America.

Those schoolgirls know the meaning of “war.”  They are fighting it, not tweeting about it.  They are paying the price.  And doesn’t our complaining look stupid and petty compared to them?  The real war on women is being waged by radical Islam, not the GOP, not evangelicals.

There is no war, just a lot of stupidity.

What do you think?  Do you think there is a war going on against you?  Is there a giant conspiracy against any of us?  Or are we just grasping at straws because our problems are too insignificant to really matter?

26 responses to The Real War on Women

  1. Hi Matt,

    Yes, I’m back online today after the 5th eye surgery which curtailed my reading and commenting for a while.

    You make an excellent point here. I endorse it… with reservations.

    Yes, other people have big problems. Bigger than mine by comparison. But, let’s face it, when my tooth aches, nobody ever in the whole history of the world has ever had a worse toothache!

    That’s because it’s mine.

    I suspect that God tailor makes the blessings and torments each one of us enjoys or suffers. He tempers these things to draw us closer to Himself.

    Bill Gates is rich because being well-off enables him to seek and serve the Lord; were I rich, I could not handle it. The poor are poor because that state gives them the best shot at Heaven (which does not mean the rest of us ought not to help them as Christ ordered).

    I recall a cartoon from years ago in which a man in prayer says, “Lord, why do You allow so much pain and suffering in the world”?

    A Voice from a cloud answers, “Funny, I was about to ask you that same thing”.

    I suspect that if we are to do anything substantial for the poisoned schoolgirls, the place to start is a concerted effort to present Christ’s love to the fanatics.

    I wonder how to do this?


    • Welcome back, John! I had been wondering about you. Yes you make a great point – our own pain always feels like “10” compared to everyone else’s. Maybe that’s why it’s hard for us to empathize with one another.

  2. Off the top of my head–

    1) First off, I think the whole “war against women” meme is pretty much a nice bit of election-year hyperbole. However, I’ve been really kind of shocked by the stuff that is passing for ‘controversial’ these days–maybe I’m wrong, but I never thought that we would still be debating whether or not insurance should cover birth control in 2012. It struck me as something that would’ve caused arguments in 1975, not today. And why is the whole notion of equal pay for equal work something that still requires discussion in the 21st century?
    But then, I get shot down a lot about my opinions on issues that I think (theoretically) should be a no-brainer. So maybe it’s just me.

    2) I think it’s a bit too easy to trot out the whole ‘you shouldn’t be outraged about x because y is so much worse’–especially when you’re trying to tell other people what to be outraged about. (And I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this as well.)
    Do you know how many times I’ve seen some internet guy say ‘Homeless people in America are rich compared to homeless people in Haiti’? Maybe they are–but does that give you an excuse to ignore the homeless guy in your own neighborhood?

    Don’t get me wrong–I’m ticked off about the way women and girls are treated by Islamicists. But that doesn’t preclude me from being (sometimes) a bit ticked off about injustice happening in my own country.

    • Oh absolutely and amen! We can’t ignore injustice at home or abroad. Please see my comment to the other Abbie about my distinction between an attack and a war. I think situations in America are usually not the result of an organized army against women or blacks or Christians – just random attacks, or even attitudes that are not even intentional. I could be wrong about that – it’s just a theory. I think you are right, the war on women is complete hyperbole of the real issues at hand.

  3. I know that other people have it much worse than I do. But I’m reminded of the old Arabian saying about the camel’s nose in the tent. I suggest you (re-)read “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Any deliberate denigration of ANYONE because they are different (black, homosexual, female, Muslim) ANYONE is an attack on them. And attacks lead to outright wars. Attacks on women’s rights to procreate as and when THEY want, to receive equal pay for equal work, to decide how they want to live their lives, married or single, are attacks on every woman. Just because I am part of the 1% to the rest of world doesn’t mean I’m not part of the 99% in MY world (although I hope I have enough compassion to help spread a little of my wealth around to those less fortunate than I).

    • Great point, Abby. I think I will distinguish between an “attack” and a “war.” There will always be attacks on one group or another. It does not mean that there is any organized effort to undermine that group. What happens to women in the MidEast, or what happened to blacks in the 60s, I call a war because there was an organized army of resistance against them, and they paid a high price to fight that war. With American issues, I more often than not believe that there is no grand right wing or left wing conspiracy, just random attacks.

  4. In this world there are those of faith, and those without it. Certainly there are those that promote evil, but without faith, even those works are evil. Where the war is fought is in the good vs. faith arena.

    I’ll use your quote as an example. “I will say this, and I mean it: anyone who thinks it’s God’s will that you poison schoolchildren can go to hell. I know, not very loving. Jesus, forgive me.”

    You are going to be at ideological war with Universalists. That is the crux of what you are talking about. And if I may add, I am with you, because God is also just! However; everyone is looking for an excuse to minimize their bad behavior. Oh yes, and according to Paul, “no one is righteous” except those with faith. What faith, the faith in Jesus. But there I go pissing off the “many paths to Heaven” crowd.

    The real war is not about flesh and blood, or even biblical principals. It the war for Heavenly truth fought in the Spirit.

    Just do what you see the Father doing, and don’t worry about what it costs. In the end there is a reward.

  5. Great post, again, Matt

  6. Great post. It’s good to see thoughtful comments, as well. I like that you differentiate between “attack” and “war”. As long as there are differences, there will be attacks. Sadly, it’s true. And it can be mistifying as to how we might go about loving the haters…yet love them, we are called to.

  7. Are you saying that what is happening in America is more like the teasing and taunting you find in school playgrounds rather than an all out assault on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

    In some ways, you are right. Outright murder or attempted murder is bad. And so many people (note: not all people) whining about how life is hard or how they are being oppressed here in America should be air dropped into Afghanistan or Saudia Arabia or North Korea with nothing but the clothes on their back so that they have a better understanding of the definition of “oppression” and “work.” For that matter, put me on that list of people because I sometimes forget how easy I have it.

    However, there is a passage I currently can’t find in the Bible that says something about these little verbal attacks are similar to devouring each other, bit by bit. And Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that insulting another person is the same in spirit as murdering them. So Linda Hirshmann (mentioned in your first linked article) and Hillary Rosen, who put down stay at home moms in general, are murderers at heart.

  8. No one’s ever thrown acid in my face. But I have been raped twice, I’m a survivor of an attempted murder suicide, and EVERY DAY I get sexually harassed by men in their cars while I’m walking to class. My experience isn’t rare…not even in America. About 3 women per day are murdered by an intimate partner. Rape victims are constantly not believed because of ways they might have been dressed. I mean, I could go on and on.

    Yes, we do have privilege living in America, but to say that there is not a fight going on for our rights is frankly ignorant. Check your privilege.

    Ignoring the very real problems against women and racial/sexual minorities (seriously, gay people can’t even marry in most states and trans people can be fired from their jobs just for being trans) just because some other cultures may “have it worse” just seems like a desperate attempt you to hang onto your white male privilege.

  9. It seems most of us are in agreement. One of my biggest [areas Christ is still working on me] is dealing with stupidity. Therefore, I cannot listen to political stuff for too long at a time. So much is so stupid.

    When we lack severe and pressing issues (we can have both separately, you see), the collective “we” have a tendency to find anything to complain about. We were so comfortable as a whole for so long that our biggest complaints center so much on “I am offended by what you said without thinking I might ever hear you!” This then leads to many people saying, “Yeah! Down with the fascists/chauvinists/feminists/mathematicians/whites/blacks/Latinos/school lunch ladies!”

    It can get stupid really fast, and then we neglect those around us.

  10. Good post, Matt! It seems we are all so easily offended, calling it an attack… and now a war. I agree with David–the real war is Spiritual. It can manifest in different ways in different places–infringing on freedom of religion here, attacking women overseas–but in the end, there is only one enemy, and it isn’t one another.

  11. A very good post, Matt. We all have our little ‘wars’ we put at the top of our list of things gone wrong. I live in Thailand and live among the poor farmers and they too have to deal with life and give little thought to worldwide problems.

    Persecution of one group or another seems, to me, a way of life everywhere. It is real but some are meaningless to others who don’t feel or understand.

    We as humans are killing the Earth, looking down our noises at others who don’t fit our mold, mistreat women, enslave those who we don’t think deserve more– 27 million people live in slavery around the world– many in the U.S. we don’t hear about, and we complain but do little to make things right.

    The people of Afghanistan are being helped and we rail against our young men and women there doing what is asked of them. I have two sons there working and they see the changes– for the good. Schools for girls, stonings and hangings are no longer the norm. The sad part is when we leave chances are great these people will return to their ways because when we’re gone there will be no one watching.

    The commandments of Jesus are simple and if we would only hear and practice these commandments the world would change.

  12. You are going to laugh, Matt, but today, in my inbox was an email from an organization titled “The Real War on Women” and it didn’t have anything to do with Afghanistan. Whodathunk? 😀

  13. Our media must have nothing to do. Seriously?? War on Women? Sounds more like a practical joke to me. Women have more rights today than they ever have before. No free birth control? Get a job and buy some.

    • Just by saying that, you are a soldier for the misogynist army! 😉

      • And Matt you just lost a follower for 1) this post in general 2) your response to this commenter.

        I hope you really reconsider the way you use your words in your online space. You may not think there is a war on women, but I most definitely feel attacked by you.

    • “Women have more rights today than they ever have before. No free birth control? Get a job and buy some.”

      Nice to see compassion and empathy coming from brothers in Christ. Oh, wait…

      You should be embarrassed by this.

  14. There is a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and in sermons about “Spiritual Warfare.”

    What is your take on it?

    On the same hand, I believe the war lies within ourselves and our worst enemy is — ourselves.

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