I turned 18 in October of a Presidential election year. For as long as I could remember, being able to vote was what I was looking forward to the most for that milestone birthday. I could care less about the cigarettes and tattoos, as my peers sped off to convenience stores and piercing parlors. I wanted to fill out the form, check the boxes, and become a Republican to vote in the election taking place a month later. I voted for a Republican, and continued to do so for several Presidential elections following that first.
Fast forward, and I am no longer an official “R”. Even though the decision to drop that coveted political designation was made several years before our 45th President took the Oath of Office, some of my Republican Party views still linger; though they have evolved significantly, as has the political landscape we find ourselves thrown into year after year. Now with a Republican President in office who has created an atmosphere of discontent amongst many women, and men, primarily on the left-side of the political pendulum, how does a Republican-leaning feminist woman fit into fray? What are the issues that have created a chasm between who I am and the GOP?
The Conservative Base Has Abandoned Women’s Health, unabashedly.
One of the things that turned me off the most to the conservative movement, as it has become indemnified by the Republican Party, is the betrayal that so many conservative females have against their own gender. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t see me at any Women’s Marches, and you certainly won’t see me protesting abortion rights in front of any churches. I respect the opinions that people choose, and the religions they choose to identify with. However, I do not understand the movement to remove many wonderful health options available to women through programs such as Planned Parenthood. So many women, including myself, have benefited from these programs, and as someone who believes that the health of women translates into the health of a nation, I cannot understand why any women would undermine the good work being done, with some Federal dollars, yes, for women who otherwise have no other option. If affordable family planning & birth control had always been a priority for men in power in our country, perhaps we wouldn’t be dealing with an abortion issue as it has become today. Ladies, do not judge the life of another woman as harshly as you do when it comes to each other’s health. We are all fighting similar battles, and the struggles of womanhood transcend politics or religion. Please, be kind to the woman next to you with regards to the choices she may have had to make– especially since we don’t have policies in place that also physically bind a man to the responsibilities of the proverbial contract he signed by entering her.
Republicans Have Made Other Social Issues an Enemy
I was never a social conservative, but I don’t recall the social issues we face today having such a prominently negative place in the minds of so many of those who identify with the conservative movement. As a child, I remember feeling viscerally uncomfortable with the idea that the church I grew up in would not allow women or homosexuals into positions of leadership. I just could not reconcile that policy with the “WWJD”, or “What Would Jesus Do” bracelet that I wore around my wrist. Would Jesus really stop these people from having the same opportunities in life as straight men just because they were born differently? Even if those opportunities included the desire to preach his Word? None of it made sense. And the same goes for the social issues we face today with regards to women and homosexuals stemming from some of the anti-this- and- that movements on the far right. As a Republican-leaning woman I say, “Enough!” The hate and intolerance must stop.
Let’s Focus on Running the Country and Not on Running Individual Lives
Between national debt, and issues of resource conservation, or national security, why are we so laser-focused on the issues that cause individual distress instead of the issues that create collective strength? I’m asking the Republicans out there. I joined a party that I thought was the party of strength and security; of strong economies and small businesses; of kick-ass attitude and hands-off government. I didn’t sign up for the party that would marginalize my health needs and make me feel inferior for not being born male. Republicans, at your core, your issues have shifted off base—get back on board with the points of power that provide a collective strength and unity to the country, and stop being so worried about taking away perhaps the only available option for a woman to have a grasp on her life and choose a path that best suits her, or the equality another man or women is entitled to enjoy even though they may choose a different partner than you. Let us work together on what makes us American, not fall apart on the issues that make us undeniably human.
So, what about people like me?
Here I am. A Republican-leaning feminist female. I’m disappointed in the party I longed to support that first election years ago, and yet there are so many of the core Republican “country-running” policies I still espouse. The fervor that so many had towards electing our newest President, despite the red flags that the man so proudly waved, worries me. I cannot reconcile the intolerance seeping from the far right and the strength of unity of all Americans I long for in my heart, but this is the dichotomy I face.