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Standing Our Ground: Going Beyond Maslow’s Basic Needs

1:38 pm in Uncategorized by On The Issues Magazine


By Mary E. Plouffe, cross-posted from On The Issues Magazine.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that basic needs (food, shelter, safety) must be satisfied before higher level needs (social relationships, self-esteem, self-actualization) can be given much attention.

A University of Illinois study published in 2011 challenges this assumption. In fact, even in countries where survival is a daily battle, people report a need for relationship, accomplishment and a feeling of effectance (personal power) in the world. We can, it seems, concern ourselves with many things at once.

The day after the election, the women’s movement needs to remember this.

The forces that want to turn back the clock on women’s rights, on reproductive rights and “issues of the womb” are counting on the old paradigm to be true. They are hoping that women will be so distracted with these core issues of safety and security in our own bodies that we will leave their war rooms and policy rooms bereft of our voices. This would be a big mistake.

There are extremists who want to put women and their bodies back under the control of a single conservative perspective. The laws and regulations they are proposing need to be challenged and beaten back. But I believe that this group is small, loud and beatable.

Women born in the last 30 years may have grown up without the need to grab the feminist flag, but they will rally if the rights they have enjoyed since they were born are in danger. And their mothers and grandmothers, who fought for those rights years ago in the trenches, will know how to lead them.

The larger danger comes from those who want to preserve and extend the balance of the past, the long-held reality that debates about economics and military policy and international policy are held almost exclusively in male voices.

Their use of Maslow’s psychology is simple: Keep the pot overflowing on the stove and the drawing room will remain cigar-friendly. Whether this is by chance or design, the resurgence of old feminist battles risks usurping too many women’s voices, and leaving critical issues without our influence. It will be no one’s fault but our own if we let that happen. Women have won many battles by uniting our voices. I believe, the day after this election, we need to hold our ground, and respond with a chorus of diverse feminine voices from every powerful position we own.

Here is how progressive feminists can do this.

Moving Forward with Four Action Steps

First, as a community, we need to encourage our members to put their energy and resources where they will make the most impact. I want female engineers talking about energy policy, and female economists talking about financial policy. I want them not only to feel free to do this, but to be applauded when they put their time and energy where they have the most credibility and where it will have the most impact for good.


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Where Are The Women?

8:42 am in Uncategorized by On The Issues Magazine

Pro Choice Protect Women's Health March March 26, 20112

(Photo: stevendepolo/flickr)

By Merle Hoffman, cross-posted at On The Issues Magazine

After debating every major “right-to-life” leader in this country- including Jerry Falwell – I didn’t need to watch the debate tonight to know that no matter who the pundits say won, it is women who are losing.

In the meager segment set aside to discuss health care in tonight’s debate both candidates brought out their shop-worn stump speeches on the merits and weaknesses of Obamacare.

At one point Governor Romney said “the government shouldn’t be telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they should have.”

What an opening for Obama to come out strongly in favor of reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to choose. This was Obama’s opportunity to emphasize, with strength, that he supports Roe v. Wade – which I consider to be the Medical Equal Rights Amendment for women.

But he didn’t. Like I said, it’s the same old story.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a Romney supporter. Far from it. I just wish that one of the candidates would have said something specifically about women beyond wishing Michelle Obama a happy anniversary. (Actually Romney’s congratulations were focused more on the president. Weren’t they?)

The candidates talked about a grandmother and the women they met on the campaign trails. But not a word about women’s health care–or the fact that it is the women of this country sitting at all those “kitchen tables” who make the health care decisions for their families.

It is the women of this country who are the most impacted by the economic downturn. And this is intrinsically related to health care.

For example, as the Founder and President of Choices Women’s Medical Center, I commissioned an analysis of previous studies, what I termed “Abortionomics,” which showed that today’s economic hardships are a major factor in women’s decisions to have abortions. I presented at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Jan. 17, 2011.

It seems obvious: When the economy dips, it’s harder for people to raise a family. But this living reality, borne out in the report’s findings, remains outside today’s heated political debates about abortion and birth control. As a result, too many politicians seem oblivious to the consequences of unwanted pregnancies. They are oblivious that when these pregnancies are carried to term, the resulting births impose difficult, if not impossible, financial burdens on already strapped mothers and families.

The debate was mute on the subject of women. but the climate outside in the real world is dangerously loud. A new videotape just surfaced on MSNBC showing Todd Akin-speaking to Congress in 2008, comparing abortion to slavery-and saying that “abortion doctors” perform these procedures on women who are not pregnant.

Now, according to Akin, not only can women’s bodies decide for themselves if they will become impregnated with a legitimate rapis sperm,-they can also produce fetuses on demand for abortion doctors to abort!

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

Aiken is not going rogue– Aiken is just going public on expressing the political/philosophical foundations of the current Republican party, including Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint and Newt Gingrich, all of whom have come out in support of the congressman. Clearly, the dangerous views of my old debating opponent, Jerry Falwell, live on even if he no longer is with us.

This is what Mitt Romney represents for women of this country.

But where is the response from President Obama?