My wife has been increasingly shooting steam from her ears as she has listened to the Republican Presidential candidates and their surrogates (an appropriately ironic term in the midst of the contraception wars) rant about Obama's "attack on religion" and how their rants are not about putting women in their place. Ha. My wife posted the following on her blog yesterday, and I thought I should share it on Daily Kos.
A Stroll Down Memory Lane
I saw Foster Friess on the news the other day saying that in his day women used aspirin for birth control. They held it between their knees, he pronounced, with a smarmy smug smile. My stomach lurched. Friess and his ilk would love for us to take a nice stroll down memory lane, take us back to the good old days they remember so fondly. Here’s what I remember.
I knew people who had diptheria. And small pox. And polio. Scarlet fever and whooping cough. All of us, people my age, had chicken pox and measles and mumps. Women my grandmother’s age had lots of children and often the babies died before they reached the age of five. Men had more than one wife, because women died in childbirth.
I remember women who had to go to Mexico to get abortions. Not theoretically. I know women who had to do this. Abortions were illegal until I was 22 years old. Even if you got pregnant from a rape. Even if you got pregnant from incest. And let’s talk about that for a second. We didn’t talk about rape and incest then. But it was the woman’s fault. She dressed wrong, or she was in the wrong neighborhood, or she lead the guy on. She did something.
Birth control was a pretty new idea then, too. Not much was available, and if you were a teenager, the only place you could go was Planned Parenthood. Just like now.
Jobs were listed in the paper under Help Wanted—Men and Help Wanted—Women. The jobs under Help Wanted—Women all paid a whole lot less than the ones under Help Wanted —Men. Even if the ones under Help Wanted—Men were ones that women could do. It didn’t matter. Don’t bother to apply. Men had families to support.
There was a swimming pool near our house called the Riverside Plunge. It was glorious, the place to go swimming in the summer with a long slide into 82 degree water. It was glorious if you were white. This was in the 1950s. It was legal for black kids to go. They just weren’t allowed in. Neither were the Japanese kids or the Chinese kids or the Mexican kids. They had to sit in the park across the street. It was torn down later and replaced by a Jewish Temple. Shalom.
I remember lying in my bed one night. My mother came home and told my father that there was a gas war on. I was terrified. I’d been fed cold war disaster scenario after scenario, from Tommy the Turtle telling students to hide under their desks in the event of a nuclear war, to civil defense instructions on how to build a bomb shelter in your backyard. I was really irritated with my dad for not building one. It turns out that a gas war was a competition between gas stations to sell the cheapest gasoline, and mom had found a bargain. I had nightmares for a week.
I read somewhere that by 1900, it had taken 150 years to double all human knowledge. Today it takes only 1-2 years, and by 2020, knowledge will double every 72 days, according to estimates. And some of these folks want to dismantle the department of education. Swell. Do we want our children homeschooled by people who think that President Obama is a Muslim terrorist?
So, the cold war is over, women rarely die in childbirth, kids don’t often get really sick and when they do we’re shocked. No one will make you get an abortion but if you choose to get one you can, and you won’t die in a back alley. Job ads read Help Wanted, period. And all the kids can go swimming. Hardly perfect but neither were the good old days.
And these morons, these aspirin-between-the-knees, these let’s-demolish-the-education -department, these let’s-go-back-to-the-good-old-days-white-neocon smug smarmy bastards want to take us back to ignorance, bigotry, hatred and intolerance? When they can’t win an argument by dealing with issues or facts they just go straight to personal attack. No thanks. I vote. And so do my kids. And so do my friends. I think November is going to wipe the smug off a lot of faces. I hope so.