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Guest: Michelle Goldberg

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[The full video for this program is available at: http://www.paulagordon.com/shows2/goldberg/index.html.] America grants human rights to corporations and questions whether those same rights should be permitted to women. That’s nuts ... and maddeningly counter-productive.To solve the massive problems now menacing humanity, liberate women, concludes Michelle Goldberg. An award-winning investigative reporter, she urges strong U.S. support for the rights of women. “In today's world, women's rights are a harmonizing and stabilizing force, and reproductive rights in particular are increasingly enshrined in international law,” she reports. Give women control over their own fertility, they will make the right decisions. “Whether you’re worried about over population or under population, women's rights are the answer.” Ms. Goldberg carefully studied the range and tactics of opponents to women’s rights in a world where she says, women are too often simply dismissed as less than fully human. “(These people and organizations) are working under the guise of fighting for the authenticity of cultures. Having written my first book which was about religious fundamentalism in American politics, I have seen these movements increasingly branch out, increasingly globalized. They have their own means of support whether its coming from American evangelicals, from the Vatican, from Iran or from Saudi Arabia. “Women have the right -- the right -- to decide the number and spacing of their children. That is the wording of a human rights declaration signed in the sixties in Tehran. Then it follows they need some way to do that. People in the U.S. take access to family planning and contraception services for granted. They don't understand how politicized and fraught access to family planning services is around the world." Knowing that “women's rights” can seem vague, Ms. Goldberg gets specific. “We're talking about family planning -- and family planning means contraception; the right to decide when you have sex; who you sex with; when you get married; when you have children; how many children you have; how they're spaced. These are pretty fundamental things. These are rights. Even abortion rights. Increasingly various international human rights bodies roar that women who have been denied abortions that they need for various health reasons have had their human rights violated." She shows a direct connection between patriarchy and rapid population decline. “Countries where women want to combine work and family but the infrastructure and the social attitudes and government polices to support that don't exist -- it’s not a coincidence a lot of these are Catholic countries -- women are not having children. I call that the Birth Strike. “In countries that do make generous allowances for working women -- France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway -- birth rates are actually totally sustainable. The reason Sweden initially adopted really family friendly polices? They had a labor shortage. Germany also had one, but they didn't want to (recruit women.) They decided instead to rely on massive numbers of guest workers which has created all kinds of other problems." She urges strong U.S. support for women around the world who are actively engaged in championing women’s rights. “What goes on in a conference room at the United Nations where the United States is involved and the Vatican is involved and these Muslim countries are involved -- that translates into the life of a woman, on the ground in Managua, or in a village in Kenya.”


In the 300-year old spirit of the Enlightenment, Michelle Goldberg has done what we should expect of good journalists. She has gone out to find the evidence with allows us, requires us, to separate the truthful from the blatantly false. We thank her.

Related Links

The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World is published by Penguin PressW.W. Norton published Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. Mary Ann Mason has succeeded in enhancing possibilities for women in colleges and universities. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas' account of early human lifestyles in The Old Way provides unexpected insights into the prehistoric roles of women. Carolyn Jessop's experience within the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints provides a powerful argument against blind acceptance of "traditional cultures." Educating girls and young women is a prime key to economic development. Three Cup of Tea describes Greg Mortenson's workin Pakistan and Afghanistan. Susan Faludi shows how the false mythologies of the helpless female and the protective male have corrupted American society. Christine Loh helped found the opposition party in Hong Kong.  Her courageous willingness to confront, when necessary, the government of the Peoples' Republic of China is an example to all of us. Aminatta Forna's novel Ancestor Stones is a retelling of the stories West African women told to sustain their communities ... and their substantial influence. Women, democracy and Islam are the focus of Geneive Abdo's No God But God. The risks Claudine André has taken to establish a sanctuary for endangered bonobos in war-torn Congo is inspirational. Millie Monks' memoir has become a touchstone for women struggling to cope with madness intheir families. On Becoming Fearless is Arianna Huffington's advice to her daughters on avoiding fear-induced intimidation and oppression. And, here's a little background information on Paula Gordon and Bill Russell, who are the Program co-hosts.

This Program was recorded on Friday, April 10, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

Tags: culture Daily Beast feminism fundamentalists gender globalization greying human rights imperialism Means of Reproduction Michelle Goldberg oppression paternalism Paula Gordon population power public health reproductive rights right wing