The more time I spend on Twitter, discussing religion and more recently, politics, the more concerned I become. It’s not just that people disagree with my viewpoint – that is only to be expected, and the world would be an incredibly dull place if we were all of the same opinion.
No, the thing that concerns me, is the almost fanatical division along party lines, regardless of the issues being discussed. For the record, I would self-identify as a “liberal“, a word that has been turned into an insult by conservatives. But even this is bizarre, when you look at the dictionary definition of the word.
1. broad-minded: tolerant of different views and standards of behavior in others.
2. progressive politically or socially: favoring gradual reform, especially political reforms that extend democracy, distribute wealth more evenly, and protect the personal freedom of the individual.
Perhaps I have gone too far down the terrible path of liberalism, but I honestly cannot see what is so bad about being labeled “liberal”, by a conservative? Quite frankly, I see it as a compliment. Why would one not want to be broad-minded or tolerant?
Regardless of the arbitrary nomenclature assigned to people with differing beliefs, yesterday I was naive enough to engage in conversation with a conservative woman on the subject of birth control. In my mind, any social group that has control over another ought to be questioned, and steps enacted to ensure that the two groups are granted equal rights, with neither having dominion over the other.
Early in the conversation, I made the mistake of comparing Sandra Fluke (the law-school graduate currently being villified by Rush Limbaugh) to Rosa Parks (the civil rights activist who famously refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white passenger). My intent was not to trivialize the actions of Rosa Parks, but to try to elevate those of Sandra Fluke. I felt the comparison was valid, since both women were fighting, to varying degrees, against oppresion of their particular social group, be it racial equality or gender equality. I do apologize if offence was taken at my comparison, but it was not intentional.
As I was discussing the issue of freely available contraception for all women, I could not (and still cannot) understand how an educated woman could make statements such as these:
“You have lost this debate let’s move on. She should get the men to pay for the birth control.”
“You mentioned being controlled by men. You suggest I accept control by liberal men instead of my own views? You make my point”
The fact of the matter is, that Sandra Fluke was denied her ability to speak by a republican-led, all male panel. She was eventually allowed to speak at a Democratic hearing where she spoke of a medical need for contraception, and yet it is the “liberals” that are trying to control women?
I try to understand the views of the religious right when it comes to matters such as these, but when viagra is available on prescription and medically necessary hormonal pills are not, there is an obvious inequality between the sexes. I try to understand the conservative viewpoint with regard to government interference, but it may be that sometimes, the government might just have your best interests at heart. Freely available contraception for all women is a step forward socially, freeing women from the additional burden of expenses, worry and medical issues that men simply do not have.
Rather than stick to the party line, regardless of the issues at hand and how they might impact you directly, it might be worth considering the validity of each viewpoint. When your party is doing its best to oppress women and maintain the staus quo of men in control, perhaps it is time to stand up and voice your dissent. You may become briefly unpopular with your party, but you will certainly be remembered for standing up for what is clearly a vote for equality and social progress. Senator Olympia Snowe, the Maine Republican, has done exactly this – voted against the party lines for a policy that she simply cannot uphold.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinon, and if you truly believe that free contraception for women is unconstitutional or immoral or too expensive or whatever else, you are free to vote as you choose.