My view: The truth about the ‘war on women’

By Cindi Merrell

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, May 9 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Presently, 200 Nigerian schoolgirls are missing. Abducted by what authorities believe to be Boko Haram extremists, the girls have been missing for nearly two weeks.

Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

This morning I told my children to clean their abomination of a room. No sooner were the words out of my mouth than the accusations began to fly. “I didn’t do it! She’s the one who did it!” cried one. “It wasn’t me! She always makes the mess!” proclaimed the other.

I often mediate between them but today I took a different approach. I told them that they had until bedtime to work the problem out themselves.

Well, it’s almost bedtime, and their room remains untouched. Lesson failed. Not only did my little angels fail to compromise but neither one wants to be held accountable for the mess.

I find our congressional leaders to be equally obdurate. They have long replaced bipartisanship with self-serving manipulation. It is no longer about representing constituents, it’s about maintaining or obtaining congressional seats.

The “war on women” is a palpable example of this. This platform, a brainchild of the 2012 election, is resurfacing in time for midterm elections — and predictably so. Women still hold majority vote in this country, therefore both political parties are scrambling for their attention. The Democrats, in a transparent play to protect the Senate, have introduced the issue of equal pay. The Republicans, in retaliation, are openly seeking poster women to counter their "women-hating" image.

As a result, both parties have cheapened the real issues that affect women globally.

Wage gaps certainly have validity. But the platform has been picked because it is an easy sell. Our leaders can wrap it up into a neat little "war on women" bow without having to address the tougher issues.

And ironically, it’s the multifaceted, scarlet letter issues that truly constitute the war on women. Domestic violence. Human trafficking. Sexual violence. Honor killings. Mutilation. Child brides. Education discrimination.

Some examples of this?

In the United States, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Presently, 200 Nigerian schoolgirls are missing (“ ‘I will sell them,’ a Boko Haram leader says,” CNN, May 6). Abducted by what authorities believe to be Boko Haram extremists, the girls have been missing for nearly two weeks. Boko Haram, loosely translated to “Western education is forbidden,” opposes the education of women and therefore goes to extreme measures to deliver its message.

The World Health Organization has reported that over 125 million girls have been cut via genital mutilation in 29 countries.

At present, 21 million women are enslaved via human trafficking (“21 million in slavery,” Harvard Gazette, Nov. 22, 2013).

None of these atrocities can be easily disentangled, yet they unveil the complex, horrifying side of human nature that embodies the true definition of war.

Therefore, it would appear that Congress has a lot of redefining to do in regards to this alleged war.

Most importantly, in order for women’s issues to get resolved, simple or complex, both parties are going to have to rid themselves of their childlike egocentricities and reinstate bipartisanship. Otherwise, we are going to continue with a political environment that is not unlike my children’s room: messy and unresolved.

Cindi Merrell is a mother, wife and English teacher.

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