Thursday, April 17, 2008
We Are Still So Far From Equality
I've been thinking a lot about the status of women in the United States this week.
After my raising the issue of the lack of women religious leaders selected as questioners at the Compassion Forum, a colleague emailed me that half of the Presidential Candidates were women, half of the CNN questioners were women, and the CEO and the Chair of the Board of Faith in Public Life were women. And he has a point -- although it still doesn't address why only one of the pre-selected religious leaders recognized to ask questions were women.
But, yes, there is change, and we can celebrate that.
Yet, the two largest religious denominations in the United States (the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Association) do not ordain women clergy. As the Pope's visit is celebrated this week, there has been little analysis in the national press about the role of women in the Catholic church. Two of my colleagues, Catholic feminister author Angela Bonavoglia and Catholic theologian Mary Hunt do a far better job than I can about what's so wrong with these positions.
I also happened to watch a horrifying interviewing yesterday morning on the Today Show. Meredith Viera interviewed three identically dressed women in their twenties from the FDLS compound in Texas. It was like watching a scene from The Handmaiden's Tale or the Stepford Wives. They either looked drugged or brainwashed, as without expression, they struggled to respond to Viera's questions. I'm still trying to figure out what I think about all of their children being taken by the state, but I am certain that the safety and well being of girls who have reached puberty and are then forced to become second or third or fourth wives to older men is being compromised at a fundamental level. I also keep thinking that someone should be pointing out that the FLDS compound is as close to the actual Biblical depiction of marriage as we are likely to see.
And I've also just read the report from the Katrina Warriers Network on the disproportionate impact of Katrina on "Women and Girls in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast", released at the V-Day event. The needs to assure the safety and health of women and girls during such disasters -- and the failure to do so during Katrina -- are horrifying to read.
So to my correspondent, yes, there are indicators that on some levels, women are making strides. But, oh, do we still have a long way to go to attain women's equality.