By e-mail from Women Speak for Themselves, this morning:
Women Defy “We Are Women” Rally Claims; Say Let Women Speak For Themselves
Washington DC, August 18—As some women gather at the Nation’s Capitol today for the “We Are Women” rally, members of the advocacy group, Women Speak For Themselves (WSFT; womenspeakforthemselves.com) are making their own voices heard. WSFT began with an open letter to the White House, Congress and Secretary Sebelius in February 2012, demanding respect both for religious freedom and for an understanding of woman’s freedom and equality that goes beyond “free contraception.” It now has over 31 thousand signatories from every state.
“It defies reason that a few groups could speak for all women on issues of life, family, sex and religion,” said WSFT founder, Helen Alvaré.
“The 31,000 plus women who have signed onto our open letter will no longer sit silently by while a few political figures and their allies insist that religious freedom has to bow to the theory, the ideology really, that the centerpiece of women’s freedom is sexual expression without commitment,” continued Alvaré.
Catherine, a woman in her twenties living in New York City and a signatory, wrote to WSFT: “Out of respect for themselves and others, many women choose to live a life of sexual integrity…Many of my girlfriends and I have found this approach to our sexuality to be freeing, empowering, and constitutive of a deep sense of happiness.”
“I’m a pro-choice woman who respects the rights of other women to hold different views,” wrote another WSFT member Carol, from Vermont. “More specifically I expect the government, in compliance with the Constitution, to protect every person from being coerced into acting in a manner contrary to his or her conscience. The HHS mandates are a fundamental violation of our rights to free speech and religion.”
Hundreds more women wrote to WSFT to express their strong opposition to the message of the Saturday rally.
“Our women come from diverse political, ideological and religious backgrounds,” Alvaré explained. “But they are united in their opposition to a ‘one size fits all’ version of what women really want, particularly a version contradicted by decades of data and women’s experience in the new sex, dating and marriage markets formed by the idea that contraception, with abortion as the backup, is the sum and substance of women’s equality.“
Jennifer from Indiana, for example, a signatory to the WSFT letter says:
”Women and reproduction are not things that need to be fixed, medicated, sterilized. To equate women’s rights and health to these things is to do an incredible disservice to the rights and health issues that women do face today.”
“An honest ‘We Are Women’ rally would acknowledge the diverse views held by women. It would acknowledge the science about the decline in women’s well-being associated with the world view this rally represents.” Alvaré says. “No one speaks for all women on these issues. Let women speak for themselves.”