Last year, rageprufrock wrote about women like the burst-open lips of figs, about how women have worn their history as odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims like jewelry -- she wrote about how despite all of this, we sometimes forget how far we have come, and more importantly how far we have yet to go.
It's 2007 and the third most powerful person in American politics, second in line to take over the presidency, is a woman: Nancy Pelosi -- but half of the coverage she earned after her first State of the Union was about the color and cut of her clothes. Hilary Clinton is a two-term senator of New York and former first lady bracing to run for the Office of the Presidency in 2008 -- and yet people are preoccupied by her gender, by how pretty she might be and how she does her hair, whether or not she got plastic surgery. Women are still being raped and killed in Darfur; the Chinese countryside still has families practicing infanticide despite the country's rapidly skewing sex ratios. Girls are still giving themselves eating disorders comparing themselves to impossible standards of beauty, still acting less intelligent than they really are -- to be non-threatening, to be liked. One in three women will still experience sexual assault in her lifetime. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same.
It's 2007 and women are still odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims -- and we owe ourselves and all other women more than that, we owe ourselves better. We can do more.
V can stand for vagina, like Eve Ensler's groundbreaking monologues. V can stand for violence, under whose auspices all women continue to make a home.
V can also stand for victory.
Ask about women's health, and you'll be told about breast cancer, about pink ribbons and the importance of regular mammograms. Many women are aware that bone density is the determining factor in osteoporosis, that regular mammograms are key in catching breast cancer early, and the importance of regular pap smears.
Our bodies are beautiful and complex but we're haunted by uterine, ovarian, breast, vaginal, and cervical cancer. We're more likely to get osteoporosis, to acquire a STD, and the leading cause of death in U.S. women is heart disease. There are millions of women in the world without access to birth control or safe abortions despite the strong need for them.
The key to health, like so many other things, is knowledge and the opportunity to receive medical care and medications, which is what so many women are lacking. That's why organizations like the International Women's Health Coalition are so important. IWHC provides professional assistance and financial support to organizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They help analyze policies and form programs and strategies in countries throughout the world. They bring sexual education and contraceptives to areas that are in desperate need.