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Ten years ago, the Dixie Chicks watched helplessly as their Top of the World Tour came crashing down. And it all happened because Natalie Maines told the crowd in London, "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
Had she waited a couple of months -- you know, when people realized there were actually no Weapons of Mass Destruction and remembered that patriotism doesn’t mean following the government blindly without question -- this may have been no big deal. Had she waited until the war ended, 8 years after President Bush declared “Mission Accomplished,” it may have passed without comment.
But Maines spoke her mind too soon and death threats and insults poured in -- “Dixie Bitches,” “Saddam’s Angels,” “Natalie Maines is a fatty with a fat mouth.” Even members of the media jumped on the bandwagon and called the three grown women “little girls.”
If the backlash was about patriotism, why were all of these insults about what kind of women they were?
Less than a year ago, Michigan Congresswoman Lisa Brown found herself unable to do the work she was elected to do because Majority Leader Jim Stamas of Texas banned her from floor debate in the House of Representatives. She was banned for using a word that Rep. Mike Callton said “was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women.” Did she drop an F-bomb? Not even close. Talking about a bill banning abortion, she said the word “vagina.” She was, in her own words, banned for using “the correct, medical name of a part of a woman's anatomy these lawmakers are trying to regulate.”
They want to pass laws about what we can do with our vaginas (including who we can marry), but we’re supposed to smile pretty and call it what? A hoo-hoo?
This week, Rebecca Meredith and Marlena Valles, two debaters from the University of Cambridge learned that being the best in the world at what you do won’t stop your male colleagues from heckling you during your debate, loudly commenting on your hair, clothing, chest size and weight, or threatening to rape you afterwards. When Meredith and Valles confronted the organization that held the debates, the two women were told they “brought it on themselves by choosing to stand in the final.” In this case women are not just being told not to stand up for ourselves, we're being told not to stand up at all! Sounds like Honor Court.
It's ridiculous to think that women should be prepared for censorship if men decide that we have “stepped out of line.” It's a dangerous, outdated -- but alive and well -- notion that if we leave our houses we're putting ourselves up to be judged not by our talents, but by our proximity to society-dictated beauty. We owe the Dixie Chicks, Rep. Brown, the women at UNC, Marlena Valles and Rebecca Meredith our fierce dedication for standing up, speaking their minds and refusing to be judged by their looks or silenced by critics.