You've regressed a long way, baby

An Op-Ed questions whether women "deserve" to vote.

Published May 9, 2006 5:25PM (EDT)

There's a provocative (read: inane) Op-Ed in the New York Sun today, titled "Do Women Deserve to Vote?" Penned by Alicia Colon, it begins by asking, "How on earth did we women ever get the vote? If intellectual acumen were a requirement for suffrage today, we'd still be waiting for our shot at the ballot box." Ba dum dum!

Apparently the lack of female intellect from which Colon believes the daintier sex is suffering has to do with the fact that many women these days fight for the right to control their reproductive health -- or, as she calls it, "killing your baby" -- when in fact the "pioneering suffragettes who fought for the 19th Amendment had their heads screwed on tight" and didn't fight for abortion rights. It's this old news -- that some suffragists were against the practice of abortion, in part because it was then an exorbitantly expensive, dangerous and often exploitative procedure -- that casts modern women fighting for their rights as stupid, according to Colon. As she concludes, "smart women know that life is worth fighting for, not death."

Right. Whatever. Now under normal circumstances, this kind of pap editorial in the Sun is not something worth dredging up and getting more people to read. But in this case, I was moved to comment on it for two reasons. The first was the fact that it was sent along by a Broadsheet reader who prefaced it with this rather winning comment: "Oy. Ugh. Just, yuck. I'm cranky that I have to share oxygen particles with this woman."

Second, and more important, is that Colon's outburst on this topic was apparently prompted by an e-mail she received about some pro-choice activists who are throwing a party to raise money to fight the legal battle against sweeping abortion restrictions in South Dakota. Or, as she generously puts it, "Five girls from Queens are holding a Brooklyn beer fund-raiser this week for their poor sisters in South Dakota, who've lost their right to kill their babies in utero."

And now, thanks to you, Alicia Colon, lots more people know about it! I realize most Broadsheet readers probably don't live anywhere near Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint, but if you do, the event is on May 11 at 8 p.m. and the $10 cover includes one drink. You can find all the pertinent information here. Proceeds from the party go to the South Dakota chapter of Planned Parenthood, which also accepts donations via its Web site.

After all, Colon herself prefers "fund-raisers and their sponsors who support truly worthwhile organizations -- those that respect life." And what better way to respect life than to stand behind the rights of legally emancipated women to get the medical care they need and to plan their own families, so that they can enjoy their full rights and that future generations of children will have a better chance of being wanted, healthy, loved and well cared for?

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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