The war on women is everywhere: in the home, locally, nationally and globally. Take the recent report from The New England Learning Center for Women in Transition here in Franklin County. In this past year, they served 1,933 women survivors of mainly male sexual and physical violence.

In 2018, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center published that 81% of women reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault in their lifetime. Further, the majority of violence against women is perpetrated by male intimate partners and acquaintances.

There are a myriad other misogynist wars on women worldwide, including military wars; sex trafficking, prostitution and pornography; the theft of female and lesbian sexual identity by some in the trans movement; child marriage; female genital mutilation; and so on. But none at this moment is so intensive as Israel’s and the U.S.’ genocidal war on Gaza: 70% of those killed are women and their children.

How cruelly ironic that as U.S. weapons murder life in Gaza and elsewhere in the world with impunity, 14 U.S. states have criminalized women’s choice of abortion as murder, not even allowing abortion for the hateful acts of rape or incest, while six more states have early gestational limits. There were 65,000 rape-related pregnancies between July 2022 and January 2024 in those U.S. states banning or putting extreme limits on abortion, with the end of Roe v. Wade in the 2022 Dobbs’ Supreme Court decision.

Today a majority of U.S. adults agree that abortion should be legal. Thus, the 2022 Dobbs’ decision is a both a war on women and a war on democracy, given that the will of the majority of U.S. citizens does not prevail nor influence government policy. A recent comprehensive study of democracies worldwide concluded that “only 15 percent of people globally live in places where women and lower income groups have at least somewhat equal access to power.” The U.S. is not one of them.

What fuels the control of women’s bodies in our country? It is misogyny and injustice. After all, there is no comparable moral or medical control of men’s bodies. Yet the moralistic urgency to preserve life in the womb evaporates once a poor child is born. One in six children under five years of age lives in poverty— the highest rate of all industrial countries; 4 million youth are homeless.

Clearly, controlling a woman’s right to her own body is not about the unborn’s right to life; otherwise, all kinds of social legislation for maternal and child health, adequate housing, a living wage, and well-funded education would accompany legislation criminalizing women for abortion.

Regarding women’s loss of economic democracy, women have higher rates of poverty than men. And why? For at least three reasons:

  • Domestic violence causes women victims to lose altogether an average of 8 million days of paid work per year and is a strong factor in women’s homelessness.
  • Women’s reproductive labor: Giving birth, breastfeeding and caring for children is not compensated with free child care and paid parental leave in the United States, unlike all other comparable countries. Thus, women who give birth are cheated of savings, pensions and Social Security. No surprise then that the greatest risk factor for being poor in old age is having been a mother.
  • More women than men struggle to cover everyday expenses due to the gender wage gap, which has remained stagnant for 20 years — at 82% — a significant factor contributing to the substantial disparity in poverty rates between women and men age 75 and older.

Even for college graduates in 2024, the same economic inequality persists: Male college graduates have been hired at an average slightly over $30 an hour; women, at slightly over $25 an hour. This wage inequality of 82% will follow these women college graduates all their working lives.

Salary is symbolic: Why are we women worth 82% of men in the workplace?

Oppositional realities

More American lives were lost in the 20th century through violence against women than during all 20th century wars and civil strife. Yet, while thousands of monuments throughout the United States honor those who lost their lives for their country in war, only one —the first of its kind — is currently being planned for women who lost their lives giving birth to the country’s children. The counterpoint reality is that feminist revolutions to gain human rights and equality for women (however incomplete that goal remains) have freed and saved the lives of millions of women and girls, without weapons, without fists, and without a drop of blood spilled.

Women have more than a lot that men can learn from: Men commit 90% of homicides and almost all sexual violence; men are the primary wagers of war. Were our skills, our social and intellectual intelligence, and our wisdom valued and welcomed in all places of social and political decision-making, in every home and all national governments and the U.N., the world might get a chance at global peace and restoring our beautiful planet.

Pat Hynes of Montague is a member of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice and gave this keynote talk at Bigger than Dobbs: The War on Women and War on Democracy, a June 23 event sponsored by the Reproductive Justice Task Force of Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, with multiple co-sponsors. Speeches of the presenters will be available soon at