A rose by any other name…


Names are important. They recognize an individual, make a person tangible, and give them worth. In the beginning of the first Harry Potter book, the villain is so awful that for a spell, they only refer to him as He Who Must Not Be Named. This is how I have come to think of the man who directed vile, lewd, and blatantly inhuman comments towards Sandra Fluke after her congressional testimony on the importance of women’s reproductive rights. For years I have never liked saying his name because I didn’t want to recognize that his force was sharing space with my world.

But recently, I was visiting with a woman from Bosnia. She and her family escaped during the war but much of her family is still there. She said, “Oh, I just received a text today from my brother. He always thinks of me on International Women’s Day. It’s so sweet. It’s getting a little over the top, though, kind of like Christmas. Men sending roses and going big with the presents. I hate that. I don’t want people to forget the real meaning of the day.”

I didn’t fully understand what she was talking about and felt quite embarrassed about it. But then she told me about International Women’s Day, which celebrates the power of women and recognizing how far we have come in our rights and freedoms and choices all over the world. On a radio program later that day, I heard an Indian woman say, “I can’t even believe that you are still discussing women’s reproductive rights in the United States, of all places!”

Which brings me back to He Who Must Not Be Named. Perhaps he was abused by his mother. Or maybe one of his wives twisted his heart to pieces causing him to call a young woman he does not know a slut. To further request that she make videos of herself having sex so he could watch means he has no respect not only for women, but for himself. What would make any person say such things?

During the week of International Women’s Day, at least one trail-blazing conservative women made it clear that He Who Must Not Be Named was being treated unfairly. Mrs. Palin, who likens herself to a mama grizzly, has apparrently forgotten about her female cubs when she says in an interview with CNN from Wasilla, Alaska, “Here is my two cents. I think the definition of hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize and retract what it is that he said in exercising his First Amendment rights and never is that the same applied to the leftist radicals who say such horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless.”

Well, gosh. It’s too bad you didn’t have 50 cents worth to share because I would have loved to know more about how you explain such uncivil discourse to your children, female, handicapped, or otherwise.

Let’s get real. Left or right matters not in any of this…it’s about being human.

It’s about modeling for our children how we treat all people. Having a civil disagreement is one thing, but this was blatant demonizing of a young woman speaking her mind. International Women’s Day is supposed to highlight women around the world rising up to make their voices and causes heard. Sandra Fluke was but one example of someone doing just that.

It makes me sad to think that on my home turf, supposedly the greatest country on earth, Ms. Fluke is learning the hard way that we have miles to go before we get any sleep.

My own silence was making me crazy. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away. Yet one misguided man cannot chart the course of women’s history.

Or can he?

I have decided the risks are too great because there are a few names that mean more to me than anyone by the name of Rush Limbaugh.

Lucy and Benjamin.

No villain, real or imaginary, will ever overpower the love I feel for my children.

And our country is better than one disgusting headline. If men in Bosnia are showering women they revere with roses because they recognize their power and worth, for God’s sake, I can speak up for a 30 year old woman in the United States doing exactly what I would want my own daughter to do. For Lucy, I am talking with my signature, in the fall I will talk with my vote, and as I see fit, I will talk with my wallet through organizations that seek to strengthen women’s voices everywhere. For my children, I am engaging with friends and family to add to the conversation that all women are powerful, meaningful, vital contributors to our world at-large who deserve to be heard and treated with respect all the time.

They say silence can be deadly…and for Lucy and Benjamin, I am not taking any chances.