For the most recent installment of this assault on our rights, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently signed House Bill 2625, which authorizes employers with religious affiliations to refuse to cover contraception on their employees’ health insurance plans.
States Brewer about the bill:
In its final form, this bill is about nothing more than preserving the religious freedom to which we are all Constitutionally-entitled. Mandating that a religious institution provide a service in direct contradiction with its faith would represent an obvious encroachment upon the 1st Amendment.
Radical feminists know that “religious freedom” and women’s rights are in conflict. As Sheila Jeffreys says in her excellent book Man’s Dominion:
religious patriarchs are increasingly using rights talk to defend their subordination of women and girls. They justify the harms through the ‘right to religion’. (page 8).
This is exactly what is happening with respect to Arizona’s HB 2625. Women’s rights are not seen as important as the “right to religious freedom”—which is, in essence, the subjugation of women through, among other things, taking away our right to be free from unwanted pregnancies.
Radical feminists fight for women, and recognize that patriarchal religions are harmful to us. We know that the term “religious freedom” is code for the sanctioned removal of women’s rights. We see that religious freedom is not compatible with women’s liberation.
As Jeffreys says elsewhere in her book:
“Religion gives authority to traditional, patriarchal beliefs about the essentially subordinate nature of women and their naturally separate roles, such as the need for women to be confined to the private world of the home and family, that women should be obedient to their husbands, that women’s sexuality should be modest and under the control of their menfolk, and that women should not use contraception or abortion to limit their childbearing. The practice of such ancient beliefs interferes profoundly with women’s abilities to exercise their human rights.” (bold mine, page 5-6)
Radical feminists can see the patriarchal reversal here. “Religious freedom” is in fact female subordination. We reject the “right” of patriarchs to dominate and control women through “religious freedoms”, and we disrespect their religious traditions. As Jeffreys says:
Disrespect is crucial. Disrespect for the cultures, values, and institutions of male domination is the very foundation and sine qua non of feminism. Since religion is crucial to the construction of cultural norms in every culture, disrespect for it should be the natural amniotic fluid of feminist thought and activism. (page 5)