Most people have heard the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, but it is seldom the case that one picture sums up a movement’s agenda on a specific issue. For most Americans the Republicans’ elephant signifies opposition to taxes, regulations, social programs and for the past four-and-a-half years the GOP’s war against women. Now an image (above) has surfaced that perfectly elucidates the religious right and Republican attitude towards America’s women regardless it concerns their reproductive rights, employment rights, healthcare options, or service in defense of their country.
The image of a woman hog-tied and thrown in the back of a pickup truck is a graphic art company’s decal for the truck’s tailgate. The company’s owner claimed “It is more or less something we put out there to see who noticed it,” and that he “wasn’t expecting the reactions we got” and he likely assumed that in Texas, the idea of a woman bound and gagged was acceptable. However, the misogynistic decal served the company well because according to the owner “orders for their tailgate designs have skyrocketed” but it is unknown if the misogynistic decal is on the market. Sadly, there is a large segment of Americans who consider the idea of a woman bound up and confined to the bed of a truck the perfect place for women and they reside in Republican and religious right ranks.
The culprits responsible for the GOP’s anti-woman crusade are the religious right that depends on their misogynist handbook (the Christian bible) for counsel on how to treat women. The idea that women are inferior begins in Genesis 3:16 when god metes out punishment to Eve that 21st century Republicans have adopted as their party’s policy toward women. It says, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” The subjection agenda continues in 1 Cor. 11:9 where the apostle Paul says, “man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake,” and continues in 1 Tim. 2:12-13 where he says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”
The prohibition on women speaking came up at the Republican National Convention last year when a 30-something Republican man scolded a woman during a question and answer session in a room full of Republicans when he said “since when does a woman contradict and question a man at a Republican meeting?” Last year House Republicans convened a panel of male clergy to decide the fate of contraception coverage in healthcare plans, and to make sure no woman could contradict or question Republican men they forbade any woman from testifying. Republicans also support corporations owned by religious males to dictate that their female employees can only have sexual relations if they “bring forth children in sorrow,” and to silence women’s opinion about their own reproductive health needs.
The idea of a woman tied up, silent, and existing for man’s sake is being played out in the military during a typical case of a rape victim being punished for coming forward and reporting a sexual assault. The victim was raped at the Naval Academy by three football cadets and the military defense team has resorted to, what is reported to be typical, assaults on the victim for not keeping quiet after her assailants abused her. The male cadets’ defense team grilled the female cadet with questions such as “Were you wearing a bra,” “Were you wearing underwear,” and asked the victim how often she lies; “at least once a day?” They also repeatedly asked the victim “how wide she opens her mouth to perform oral sex.”
There is a pattern in the military of punishing women who avoid biblical silence and report being raped by labeling sexual assault victims “crazy” to deny benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is standard procedure to diagnose rape victims who refuse to be silent and report being assaulted with “personality disorders” that result in discharges, and the military considers personality disorders a pre-existing condition and not a service-related disability. Interestingly, the women are fit to serve so long as they stay silent about being sexually assaulted, but those who disobey the biblical dictate are deemed crazy, and lose several benefits including education benefits under the GI Bill solely because they received a personality disorder discharge. Republicans in Congress have taken a different approach to silencing women and it is predicated on hog-tying them economically.
Republicans have, to a person, opposed equal pay for equal work and fought ferociously to keep women barefoot and pregnant and out of the workplace with their opposition to contraception and ridiculous personhood movement in GOP-controlled states. The ongoing crusade to dismantle teachers’ unions while sparing police, corrections officers, and firefighters’ unions has its basis in the high percentage (83%) of women who make up the lion’s share of public school teachers. Republicans can hardly accept that women are better educated and earning decent wages that translates into political power, and have made crushing teacher unions their primary goal over the past four years. The image of over 3 million female teachers bound to low paying or no jobs, or stuck at home birthing children in sorrow is as attractive to Republicans as a woman bound and gagged in the back of a pickup truck is to the religious right who steadfastly support the GOP misogynists.
Throughout history women have been subjugated to second-class status if they were fortunate, and little more than livestock typically, and like 21st century America it is down to some kind of religion; especially the Judeo-Christian bent. For their part, Republicans have embraced the religious right’s biblical approach to women because it is politically expedient, and keeping them silent, economically challenged, and home giving birth keeps Republicans in power; at least in the most religious states.
The military, an increasingly hotbed of Christian power, has incorporated both Republican and religious right policies of demanding women’s silence and subjugation to men’s unwanted sexual advances, and the only thing they have not done is tell women it was god’s will they were raped. It is not out of the question because there are plenty of stories of distraught Christian women who are regularly beaten by abusive partners that finally seek counsel from their pastors only to hear that “If your husband kills you, it will be to the glory of God.” Doubtless if Republicans win the war against women and men start binding and gagging them prior to throwing them in the back of their pickup truck, the religious right and Republicans will say “calm down, it is to the glory of god.”