Wednesday, February 1, 2017
As I was consumed with Best of Jackson last week, I kept getting emails and texts about a state legislator proving himself to be among the worst of Mississippi.
Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, was not pleased to see hordes turn out in the nation's capital, around the world and even packed around the Mississippi State Capitol for the Jan. 21 women's marches. His response was to belittle, stereotype and threaten women's basic American rights.
"So a group of unhappy liberal women marched in Washington DC," he posted. "We shouldn't be surprised; almost all liberal women are unhappy. Perhaps there's a correlation."
Ah, so we "liberal women"—defined broadly as any woman he disagrees with?—must be "unhappy" if we join joyfully with people of both genders to exercise our First Amendment rights. I see.
When women and men excoriated McDaniel under his post for his juvenile rant, he called them "angry instigators." So, McDaniel is part of an infuriated, righteous Tea Party movement, but others are wrongfully "angry"? I'm surprised he didn't talk about the protesters' appearance and size of their butts and boobs the way many trolls go after women who speak out.
Oh, wait. "But I do have a question: If they can afford all those piercings, tattoos, body paintings, signs, and plane tickets, then why do they want us to pay for their birth control?" he posted.
Beyond being a goofy insult of physical appearances, that is a facile attempt to lump everyone at the Women's March into one group to easily dismiss them. No, not everyone there had tattoos and piercings, took a plane or can't afford birth control.
I know groups of Mississippi mothers who piled into mini-vans and drove to D.C. to protest the Trump-Pence approach to women's rights. They went to push back both on Trump's bragging about grabbing women's crotches whenever he feels the urge, to Pence's embrace of Personhood, which would not only make abortion illegal to save a mother's life, but forbid the birth-control pill and probably in vitro fertilization. (See jfp.ms/personhood)
The issues now aren't about wanting "free" birth control (although it would help the abortion rate keep dropping); this is more basic. This White House wants to box women into a small space with few outlets. They seem to believe that women's only birth-control option is saying "no" until marriage and then having as many babies as possible, whether they can take care of them or not. Notice how little these gentlemen talk about "single fathers" refraining from sex, however. It's always about us angry, supposedly irresponsible girls.
Of course, once all those babies are born, women must figure how to care for them with little or no public support, or if the father moves on to the next model. It's kind of like an unfunded mandate: Force women (handmaids?) to have babies and then make it near-impossible for them to earn enough or ask for help to raise them into healthy, well-adapted children, especially after the father bolts from marriage to affair to marriage, as Trump has long done.
If the woman is single, poor and of color, it's worse. McDaniel-level logic assumes she is trying to raise young thugs, and this administration supports the kinds of policing that actually keeps them cycling into the system. Plus, the probable new education secretary supports dismantling public schools in favor of "school choice" for those lucky enough to be able to choose or get their kids into the vaunted schools. It's a cycle clearly set up for failure.
McDaniel's rant continued: "You love free stuff. I get it. Unfortunately, in your quest for freebies, your so-called 'revolution of love' has become little more than intolerant hatred for anyone who disagrees. And that's okay. You have that right."
Wait. I'm clearly lumped with the "liberal women" McDaniel despises. And I support anyone's refusal to use birth control or to get an abortion, but not Big Government deciding for us. So do many others.
In fact, I work with young people believed to be "at risk" of poor behavior constantly, and one of my primary goals is to help them believe they are bigger than society's expectations for them.
I talk to young people about the pitfalls of promiscuity and learning when to say "no" to yourself and others. And I, like many others McDaniel belittles, believe in replacing hopelessness with opportunity so they don't end up as children raising children they can't afford, or in jail, or both.
Sen. McDaniel clearly doesn't get this, but "liberal women" (and men) don't just show up for protests and to slam other people. Every one I know works on the ground somehow to improve this state or nation, whether starting nonprofits (like my friend Aisha Nyandoro and her fantastic nonprofit Springboard to Opportunities), or by being a mother or father to kids who need it. I think of the stories about Dak Prescott's mama taking kids from the neighborhood into her trailer to feed, entertain and love them. I don't know that single mom's politics, nor do I care, but I know a woman's "revolution of love" when I hear about it.
McDaniel whines about us wanting him to pay for abortion and birth control, while the real threat is making it illegal for women's health insurance, even through private employers, to pay for medical services even to keep us alive. He gleefully promises "to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare"—two more ways to limit women's health-care options and increase the abortion rate, considering that Planned Parenthood offers birth control, mammograms and pap screenings (and no abortion services in Mississippi).
At the end of his rant, McDaniel proclaimed: "Yell, curse, scream, threaten, and ridicule all you wish. I don't care."
Back at you, Senator. You keep being childish and selfish, and we "liberal women" will just keep right on pushing this revolution of love and health you so despise.
And by the way, I do have a tattoo. It's a sweet rose on my shoulder in honor of my single illiterate mother who worked in factories and raised me to be a strong woman who will talk back to men like you.
Follow Editor-in-chief and CEO Donna Ladd on Twitter at @donnerkay. Read and hear her Women's March speech at jfp.ms/laddmarch