ROSE NOLEN: Missouri women are concerned about education about women's health

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — People who have suffered from any life-threatening disease and survived can tell tales about living life on the edge of a cliff. It’s not the kind of thing one wants to talk about at lunch with a bunch of strangers. But it’s the kind of thing that needs to be talked about with friends and others who have joined the fight in the war against women.

It’s ironic that the National Organization for Women will be gathering in Columbia for its state conference Sept. 21 to22, a few days after Karen Handel, the former vice president of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, is releasing her latest book, "Planned Bullyhood."

Handel’s book details the activities of the Komen group’s short-lived decision several months ago to withhold contributions to Planned Parenthood.

The last thing women need, especially women struggling with disease, is controversy. The fact that the Komen organization reversed its decision in a timely manner was a welcome relief. A journey into the politically conservative and liberal minds of the combatants in the debate is probably not helpful to keeping the peace.

Missouri women have enough on their hands with the war on women. The flap over Todd Akin's unscientific remarks about women is enough for us to worry about. Those of us concerned about education in Missouri have to be horrified when we hear opinions like those expressed by Akin being taken seriously by those in political office.

It’s disturbing, really, to discover how much time and energy men in public office are using to rake over women’s health issues. It seems to me they could at least call on medical doctors for accurate information before they try to pass laws and make judgments on these issues. I could understand how some women would be misguided enough to take men’s opinions on these subjects.

I was brought up in a family ruled by a matriarch. I have written many times about my great-grandmother and how she ruled my family until the day she died. Several years ago, I made the decision to learn all I could about her life. I interviewed everyone in the family about her. I could find no one who had a kind word to say about her, but everyone respected her. She ran the family with a fine-toothed comb. She was an educated woman, and there is no doubt in my mind that she would have taken any man that made such a stupid remark to the cleaners in five minutes.

But most of the women I’ve met have been brought up in typical American families, and they don’t question men’s judgment the way I do, so I’ve learned to govern myself accordingly. Putting up with men who make stupid remarks is not part of my nature, which is why I will never be an elected official.

In any case, I believe that the war on women is real. I don’t think that men are deliberately attacking women. I think they actually believe that they are doing the right thing. In their own, ridiculously pitiful way, I think they are trying to protect women from themselves. Unfortunately, they forfeited their ability to do that a long time ago. After women learned to read and write, they realized that once they relieve men of their weapons, they will be fully equipped to protect themselves.

I’m glad the women of Missouri are taking this war seriously. Let’s hurry up and cut them off at the pass.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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