Make it stop now

Women must step up to fight

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - STEPHANIE CULP Stephanie Culp is a Bella Vista writer who has been ac­knowl­edged for her lead­er­ship role in help­ing women en­trepreneurs dur­ing her ca­reer.

As I write this, we are well past the date of Pres­i­dent Trump’s lat­est se­ries of tweets den­i­grat­ing a woman for her looks, age, and in­tel­li­gence, say­ing that she is “dumb as a rock,” and dis­turbingly bring­ing up blood on her face, among other things.

The re­sult is what the re­sult al­ways is. Cable news con­demns it roundly for a few days un­til some­thing else comes along. A hand­ful of Repub­li­can men in Congress speak up, but most of them try to hide or change the sub­ject. Democrats, on the other hand, jump on it as if it’s a fire. They try to keep it go­ing, but af­ter about two weeks, some­thing else comes along, and they’re done as well. And the women of Amer­ica for the most part are ap­palled, but ul­ti­mately, they do noth­ing to stop it. The pres­i­dent, af­ter ril­ing up the men in his base, moves on.

Un­til the next time, that is. When I was young, girls who weren’t at­trac­tive were con­sid­ered lack­ing, and were of­ten called names based on their looks in high school. As an adult, it would not be un­com­mon for men to make a deroga­tory com­ment about your looks as they passed you on the city side­walk. This at­ti­tude of­ten car­ried over to the work­place and had a di­rect im­pact on op­por­tu­nity—which was very lim­ited for women to be­gin with. You were judged by your looks and ei­ther helped or hin­dered by that judg­ment more of­ten than not.

I bring this ugly his­tory up in an at­tempt to wake women up. The ef­fort to put women back “in their place” is well un­der­way. Step one is to ob­jec­tify the woman and choose or dis­par­age looks as part of the as­sess­ment of a woman’s po­ten­tial. Step two is to im­ple­ment lim­i­ta­tions. Step three is to re­vert back to the cul­tural norm where women’s choices are re­duced or elim­i­nated dra­mat­i­cally in fa­vor of men—from the home to the work­place.

Do you think it can’t hap­pen? It’s al­ready hap­pen­ing. Step one is be­ing reg­u­larly pro­moted by our pres­i­dent, and is un­doubt­edly em­braced by many men who yearn for the good old days when men were first, and in charge of ev­ery­thing. Step two is well un­der­way with ef­forts to dic­tate types of med­i­cal pro­ce­dures to be used or made avail­able for women—and to re­strict avail­abil­ity to med­i­cal care other than abor­tions. Step three lies ahead.

So, ladies, where are you? Why are you so quiet? Yes, I know, there was the Women’s March. I watched that on TV but was dis­tressed to see that the fo­cus was more anti-Trump than women’s is­sues. I’ve also seen news about an oc­ca­sional protest about one thing or an­other in the area. But un­til we de­velop a mes­sage that con­sis­tently and specif­i­cally ad­dresses women’s con­cerns we will con­tinue to be pushed aside as just part of the Trump grum­blers.

Part of the prob­lem is that we are too di­vided. Yet one thing unites us—we are all women re­gard­less of our age, mar­i­tal sta­tus, race, re­li­gious or po­lit­i­cal be­liefs. We need to come to­gether with a mes­sage that works for the ma­jor­ity of women. Trump’s cur­rent destruc­tion cam­paign against women via ob­jec­ti­fy­ing and bul­ly­ing them is a good start­ing place. We need to, and can, make that stop now.

In the spirit of of­fer­ing so­lu­tions over com­plaints, here are sug­ges­tions based on my real-life ex­pe­ri­ence.

First, come to­gether and de­cide who in your group has the pas­sion and the time to be the leader. To that leader, I’d say, put to­gether a team that be­lieves in you, can help you, and has the time to get the work done. Next, adopt a mes­sage and goal that all women can sup­port and name the group. I’d vote to name it Stop Now.

Put to­gether a mar­ket­ing plan. Use so­cial me­dia, but know that not ev­ery­one on the planet is on Face­book. So­cial me­dia may not be the cho­sen method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for older women who may join you. Wel­come all women who be­lieve in re­vers­ing this neg­a­tive trend re­gard­less of their other po­lit­i­cal views. Start lo­cally, but look ahead to an even­tual na­tional pres­ence with a long-term strate­gic plan. Sim­ply lurch­ing from one event to an­other just be­cause you can with so­cial me­dia guar­an­tees you’ll get lost in the po­lit­i­cal shuf­fle.

Never lose sight of the fact that when the dig­nity of one woman is pub­licly as­saulted, the dig­nity of all women is as­saulted and it takes us all back­ward. It is up to women to step up—not just today, but ev­ery day—and de­mand that it stops now.

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