Transcript of Keli Goff’s 2/13/12 Daily Rant on Dylan Ratigan’s Show
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once told a story about what it was like to be one of a few female elected officials early in her career. She recalled that she and another female elected official would dine with male colleagues who rarely asked their opinion on any issue they discussed. But when the subject turned to childbirth, she assumed that would change. She was wrong. She and her female colleague listened as two of the men spoke over each other to share their “so called first-hand” accounts of being at the hospital when their wives gave birth. The men moved on to another topic without ever giving the women the chance to weigh in.
Though I laughed when I first heard the story, because I thought things had changed so much, it appears many of us laughed too soon.
The contraception controversy which has dominated our political discourse in recent weeks has been dominated by men – both in government and the media. A recent analysis by Think Progress notes that male guests have outnumbered female guests on news programs covering the controversy by a nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
Anyone who has a problem with men leading the conversation and legislation on an issue that predominantly affects women should get used to it. Because if barriers to contraception access are increased in America, you will see far fewer female voices heard in the media and in the halls of Congress. How do we know? Because history and a look at other countries where contraception access is limited tell us so.
A few quick facts:
Number one: In countries with the highest fertility rates, countries like Sierra Leone and Chad, where women give birth to six or more children, women have the shortest life expectancies. In Sierra Leone, one in women die in childbirth. During the 17th and 18th centuries, when American women gave birth to between five and eight children, the same number of women died in childbirth here as well — approximately one in eight.
Number two: Countries with low contraception usage have the lowest number of women who can read. In Afghanistan, which continues to have one of the highest fertility rates in the world, and where contraception knowledge and access remains limited, 87% of women cannot read. In Sierra Leone, the number is 71%.
Number three: Before the 1965 Griswold ruling made contraception widely available to American women, men greatly outnumbered American women in colleges. Today, women outnumber men.
Number four: Before Griswold, there were no female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. In 2011, there were 18.
And number five: Before Griswold, there were 20 women in the House of Representatives. Today there are 76 women in the House, and 17 women in the Senate. All of whom, I presume, do not want their male colleagues speaking for them or other women on an issue that affects us.