Is It Cold Out Here, Or Am I Just A Woman?

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Climate change? A mild winter? I'd like to propose another theory about high and low temperatures  hanging around Washington, D.C. this February: Mother Nature is working her tail off to thaw the recent avalanche of anti-feminist rhetoric freezing over decades of advances in women's rights.

This is not science. I'm making a metaphor... but then again, if you're a Hollywood movie producer drawing up the snowy sequel to 127 Hours where Ani DiFranco cuts off her arm to save the future of women's rights in this country, by all means, stop right now.

Without further ado, let's recap what the media, the entertainment industry, and the government have all done this past month to get Punxsutawney Phyllis to see her shadow:

Talking Heads – Highs in the Low 30s, Lows in the Late Teens

Fox News has never given women that roasted chestnut feeling, but when covering news that women in the military can now work closer to the front lines of combat, contributor Liz Trotta made some bitingly cold statements about women and sexual violence in the military.

While sharing the screen with her resume's highlights, Trotta cited a recent Pentagon report revealing the over 50% increase in violent sex crimes in the Army in the past six years. In response to the report, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said these numbers were "a stain on the good honor of the great majority of our troops," Army vice chief of staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said the Army has "zero tolerance for this," while Trotta asked "what do they expect?" then went on to criticize programs designed "to support women in the military who are now being raped too much." (emphasis added)

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MSNBC wasn’t feeling too much warmer for women when Rick Santorum’s top super PAC funder (read: sugar daddy) Foster Friess was on Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss Santorum’s stances on social issues like abortion, gay rights, and contraception. During the interview, Friess “joked” that an inexpensive contraception alternative was a Bayer Asprin that, “gals put it between their knees.”

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The Grammys – Highs in the Low 40s, Lows in the Late 20s

Chris Brown warmly returned to the Grammys stage a few weeks ago with , a high-tech light up pyramid, solid dance moves and no memory of the night before the Grammys three years ago. You know, the night when he brutally assaulted Rihanna, his girlfriend at the time.

Despite the fact that Brown pleaded guilty and is on probation until 2014, the music industry let him out early for good behavior (see high-album sales). And the Grammys welcomed Brown back by building him an altar to sing on and sending him home with a shiny new trophy.

Possibly more shocking than Brown's "too soon" return, was the #chrisbrown conversation that followed. During and after the awards show, dozens of viewers used their personal Twitter accounts to praise Brown’s return by saying Brown could “beat” them anytime. Brown himself tried to use his new Grammy as a “Get of a Jail Free” card when he tweeted:

State and Federal Governments – Highs in the Mid-20s, Lows in the Early Teens

The Virginia House of Delegates left women out in the cold when they followed the rising trend in statewide abortion restrictions and passed a bill requiring an ultrasound as a prerequisite to an abortion. For many women in the early stages of pregnancy, this means a mandatory and invasive transvaginal ultrasound. The Senate of Virginia was wise enough to kill the bill in committee, although it is currently slated for reintroduction in early 2013.

And in an effort to chill (read: completely overturn and then some) the Obama administration's new requirement for employers and insurers to cover birth control, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) rounded up a panel to testify in a hearing before the House Oversight Committee. Except, whoops, Issa forgot to invite any women to offer testimony. So five men sat before the committee to discuss what it meant to offer women access to affordable birth control.

Issa tried to justify his boys’ club by saying the hearing wasn’t “about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience."

Time to Warm up a Bit

Thankfully, there has been a fiery backlash to Fox News’ take on sexual abuse in the military, the Grammys’ warm welcome for domestic violence perpetrators, Virginia’s probing-before-abortion bill, and Congress' biased birth control decision-making. But isn’t it extremely troubling to see this rising effort to freeze up years of progress for women’s rights? And in such a short span of time?

Despite what this past month has shown us, it’s important to remember that the non-radical idea that women should be considered equals in our society, aka feminism, is not dead. In fact, this feminist is more heated than ever.