Mindy Newell: Message In A Bottle – Or On A DC T-Shirt

Over the past three decades, there has been a steady rise in the share of women, especially mothers, in the workforce. [Collected data shows that] the majority of women and mothers work, and many work full time and full year. This dramatic increase in women’s working hours has had a substantial impact both on household earnings and the economy more generally. Our analysis finds that middle-class households would have substantially lower earnings today if women’s employment patterns had remained unchanged. Had that been the case, gross domestic product, or GDP, would have been roughly 11 percent lower in 2012 if women had not increased their working hours as they did. In today’s dollars, this translates to more than $1.7 trillion less in output – roughly equivalent to combined U.S. spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in 2012.The Economic Importance of Women’s Rising Hours of Work, A paper presented at the 75 Years of the Fair Labor Standards Act Conference at the Department of Labor, November 15, 2013.

The number of working-age women with a full-time job has surged from 28.6% in 1979 to 40.7% today, and the increase in working mothers in that time is even more remarkable – from 27.3% to 44.1 percent. So why the fuck do corporations go out of their way to alienate women, when all economic indicators point to the power of the dollar in women’s hands? Yep, those crazy people – “Corporations are people, too!” said Mitt Romney during the 2012 Presidential campaign – seem to do it all the time.

Last month it was that cover from Marvel. This month it’s DC Entertainment’s turn, with those t-shirts.

If you don’t know what t-shirts I’m talking about, take a moment to click here and read Martha’s column from Friday. Be sure to clink on the “stupid” link, which will bring you to The Mary Sue website, and the column which inspired Martha’s piece (and inspired this one) and includes handy-dandy pictures of said t-shirts.

Yeah. They piss me off, too.

You might think it’s weird that the woman who didn’t get upset about Spider-Woman’s butt is all pissy about t-shirts that proclaim maxims that belong in the 1950s and not in the second decade of the 21st century. But I grew up in the era of Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem and bra-burnings. Okay, so I never actually burned my bra, but I sure as hell got the message, and I was all of 15.

And the message was: I belong to myself.

That was 45 years ago. Almost 46, since my birthday is in 19 days. And 45 years later, there is definitely a concerted effort happening. An effort to put women back in their place, back in the kitchen, just back.

On Thursday the United States Court of Appeals (Fifth Circuit, New Orleans) gave Texas “permission to require all abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building, equipment and staffing standards as hospital-style surgical centers,” which forced thirteen Texas abortion clinics to immediately close and leaving the state – “with 5.4 million women of reproductive age, ranking second in the country” – with only eight open clinics.

Listen up, people. Texas is full of crap. This is a total bullshit ruling. The way it reads makes it sound as if these clinics are nothing more than the dirty, dark, “back room” holes-in-the-walls of crumbling tenements in the worst part of the worst neighborhoods and ghettos in Texas, like the one that Natalie Wood goes to in Love with a Proper Stranger. I am here to tell you, truth to power, that abortion clinics must meet the same standards as any “hospital-style surgical center.” They are not staffed by fairy-tale witches holding out poisoned apples to Snow Whites or by cackling crones who haven’t washed their hands or seen a dentist in a hundred years. These clinics are non-profit centers run by caring health professionals whose only aim is to insure the well being of the women who are their patients

Yeah, I know, I went off the rails a bit, but not really. It’s all the same thing, really. Closing abortion clinics, DC Comics t-shirts, it’s all about fear of loss.

The loss of control.

Control of the message.

And the message is:

You belong to me.

Don’t you dare believe them.