Recent politics show disturbing trend against women’s rights

One of my favorite cartoon characters of all time has always been Lucy van Pelt. Ever since the first time I flipped open the Sunday comics and read a Peanuts strip of her pulling a football away from Charlie Brown (again), I’ve adored her character.

Oh yes, she bosses people around and has a weird obsession with Schroeder the pianist, but she’s also one of the snarkiest, funniest and most memorable characters. She was especially memorable for me as a girl: I can still remember being told by schoolmates, teachers, and even my parents that girls like pink, girls play with dolls and toy cooking sets, girls don’t like bugs and dirt. Lucy was one of the first to shatter that: she wore blue, played baseball with all the guys and wasn’t afraid to get dirty, fighting or otherwise.

For me, Lucy represents the idea she introduced to my 8-year-old brain: the idea that gender roles are silly, that boys and girls are really just people, and neither gender is superior or inferior to the other. It’s a belief that has stuck with me to this day. So when I hear about what has now become a disturbing trend of attacks on women’s rights, the 8-year-old part of me is simply asking: Why? Are they afraid of being overrun by Lucy van Pelts?

Last October, the Mississippi legislature tried to pass a bill that would define “personhood” as beginning at fertilization, which would make abortion completely illegal. The Virginia legislature has passed a law requiring women to have a sonogram—at that stage, a procedure that involves their bodies being forcibly probed—before the abortion, regardless of whether or not the woman agrees to the procedure. Virginia is threatening to violate a woman’s body without her consent if she wants an abortion—and justifying it by saying that the woman agreed to it when she got pregnant.

And it’s not just abortion. The Republican presidential candidates have shown themselves to be casual about rape: Rick Santorum has been quoted saying that a woman pregnant because of rape should just “make the best of a bad situation.”

As someone raised in a family that prides itself on “conservative values,” I can understand where these guys are coming from. I do agree with them that all life is precious, and that having or aborting a child are both serious decisions not to be taken at all lightly. These are, however, personal  decisions, choices that should be made by the mother, who will have to bear most of the consequences. Different women have vastly different beliefs; many probably do not agree with me, and they are entitled to that. Some women are too young or too fragile to have babies, and abortion may save their lives.

Surely even those who oppose abortion can see that it is neither logical nor right to try to impose your own beliefs on others, especially not by creating laws like these. The people backing these legislations claim to uphold American values: maybe, then, they should consider upholding the American right to freely exercise personal beliefs in the making of personal decisions.

What’s even more disturbing about these events is that they all essentially say that women aren’t smart or ethical enough to make their own decisions about their body—so the government is going to make it for them. Ironic, since many of the people behind these bills are Republicans, who normally support small government that doesn’t intrude on people’s lives.

Nope. Evidently that hands-off policy doesn’t apply to women, not until we’re back where we were during the 1950s: tied up in apron strings at home, sliding spatulas under cookies, living once again in a society that insists on treating us as nothing more than baby-making machines.

Once, perhaps, a system dominated by men may have worked. But it’s not practical anymore, not in this day and age where women are fully contributing members of society. Women need to speak up and defend their rights—especially the basic right to make choices about their own bodies. We need to speak up now, while we have voices—if we don’t, our daughters may find that they have no voices with which to speak.

And as for the people pushing the legislations, it is honestly time to stop trying to go back to the past. The days in the boys-only treehouse may seem like the glory days, but no one can sulk in the treehouse forever. There comes a time when a guy has to climb back to earth and grow up.