If someone had told me this time last year that the modern woman was being manipulated, I would have never believed it. Now, I see everything through a different lens. You see, I grew up around a lot of single moms who struggled to raise children. There were a lot of absentee fathers, so I saw the angst of dealing with finances by themselves. At the tender age of 13, I made a vow to never be dependent on a man.
This vow was a blessing and a curse, both to me and my daughter. It was through this lens that I decided I was pro-choice when I first learned of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. I felt it was important for women to have power over their lives, and I believed that the pro-choice movement was a vehicle to do so. I was not anti-life, as the rhetoric likes to make us feel like we are. I simply never spent much time diving into the deeper issues at hand.
Fast forward to the age of 52, and the world looks very different now—especially when I begin to do more research as the issue of abortion and Roe v. Wade roars back to the frontlines with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The question today is, “Am I brave enough to reconsider that belief?”
Looking back at significant historic moments championing women, is it possible something else manipulated the events and outcomes? I recently stumbled upon an interesting story as I was preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. I learned that in April of 1929, during an Easter Sunday parade in NYC, a group of women was seen puffing on cigarettes while they walked down 5th Avenue, which was unheard of in those days. A reporter approached one of the women following the parade to ask why, and she called cigarettes “torches of freedom,” setting off a firestorm of coverage. As the great-granddaughter of a tobacco farmer in North Carolina, this story hit close to home.
1929 was the year of women’s right to vote, so it appears to fit together nicely, does it not? Most don’t realize that that moment was carefully orchestrated by Edward Bernays, a PR mastermind for capitalism, as he supported his client, the American Tobacco company.
Thus, this moment sets the stage for women to be a pawn in someone else’s playbook.
As I continued my research around the past 100 years of the women’s movement, I stumbled upon the history of Planned Parenthood, something especially relevant in light of the passing of Justice Ginsburg. I studied how Planned Parenthood played a key role in the passage of Roe v. Wade, and I also found out that the founder had a dark history of supporting eugenics.
In light of my new discovery about the “torches of freedom,” it stirred something deep inside when I read of the campaign to sway public opinion in the 1970s with “freedom of choice.” Eerily familiar, is it not?
Then I learned about Operation Paperclip. Most women today are not aware of this government program after WWII to bring over 1,500 scientists and medical professionals from Nazi Germany to infiltrate our entire society. They infiltrated our sciences, our medical systems, our government systems, and even our psychiatric systems. All of a sudden, I wondered: “Is it possible that that same belief system that drove the Holocaust was being brought over here to the US?”
By themselves, these events seem random. When you place them along the timeline, there is evidence of a pattern. Look back at key events in the women’s movement over the past 100 years. Ask if it served someone else’s agenda, and why it happened?
With the gift of hindsight, I can see clearly now that women have been manipulated for the benefit of someone else. Is it possible that collectively we have simply been a pawn on someone else's chessboard? The question therefore becomes “Am I brave enough to find new ways to see the same situation? Can I still push for women to have freedom, but do it in a different way?”
You see, looking back, I now see that Roe v. Wade was the beginning of a slow slide in this country toward a belief that life is expendable. It started out with simply the first trimester. Then the second trimester, and then the debate around full-term births. So what is next? Compromise of the elderly? What about the pandemic? Where does the line stop? If there's one thing COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that the line gets very blurry.
The meaning of manipulation is the intention to deceive. If it happens once, shame on them. If it happens multiple times, shame on us. Don’t settle for being manipulated on any level.
The antidote to manipulation is to consciously choose sovereignty over self. That is the invitation beckoning to us all right now — day by day, decision by decision. You have the power to choose to no longer be manipulated by someone else's agenda.
The antidote to manipulation is to choose to disengage from the rhetoric.
I choose real freedom. Do you?