When Hillary Clinton spoke at the Women in the World Summit in New York City on Saturday had the audacity to compare Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke to women activists in Burma who were beaten, sold into slavery and locked under house arrest.
That’s right. The United States Secretary of State actually tried to equate Ms. Fluke’s quest for birth control coverage with Aung San Suu Kyi‘s struggle for freedom in Burma, where she spent nearly 15 years under house arrest for being a pro-democracy advocate, an act which she eventually won a Nobel Peace Prize for.
“Because for me, it has not been so much work as a mission, it has not been as strenuous as it has been inspiring, to have had the chance throughout my life, but certainly in these last 20 years, to have the privilege of meeting women and girls in our own country and then throughout the world who are taking a stand, whose voices are being heard, who are assuming the risks that come with sticking your neck out, whether you are a democracy activist in Burma or a Georgetown law student in the United States.”
Apparently testifying before Congress to force your university to pay for your birth control is now on par with being sold into slavery.
Clinton was absolutely correct in praising women activists like Aung San Suu Kyi, Leymah Gbowee (who helped bring peace in Liberia), and other women who have been beaten, imprisoned and sold into indentured servitude for daring to question the treatment of women in their own countries and calling for a change. These are women who literally have put their own lives in danger for the betterment of both women and the world and they deserve recognition and praise.
To put a law student whining about her birth control not being provided by her Catholic university in the same category, let alone sentence, is an insult to them and to the women fighting for democracy, peace and women’s rights everywhere.
Unfortunately she didn’t stop there.
Toward the end of her speech Secretary Clinton made another startling comparison. When discussing how extremists in Tunisia want to “strip women of their rights, curb their participation [and] limit their ability to make choices for themselves,” she made a not-so-thinly disguised comparison to the Catholic Church and other right-of-center organizations and individuals who were not supportive of the HHS Contraception mandate.
“Yes, it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us,” she continued.
So, in addition to comparing Sandra Fluke’s birth control quest to bringing peace to Liberia, the Catholic Church and others are the right are now the equivalent to atrocities being committed against women in places like Tunisia, Libya and Afghanistan.
That’s stretching it quite a bit. You can hardly compare the Catholic Church’s refusal to procure birth control for its employees to Mukhataran Bibi, the woman put on trial in Pakistan for refusing to commit suicide after being brutally gang-raped by four men. The comparison isn’t there. It just isn’t. To try and invent a comparison is incredibly offensive to the women who have braved the truly horrific treatment by countries like Pakistan, Liberia and Burma. Complaining to Congress about being forced to purchase your own birth control pills is hardly Nobel Prize worthy and to put Ms. Fluke in the same category as such inspirational activists as the aforementioned women is ridiculous.
I expected more out of Hillary Clinton and unfortunately, I was brutally disappointed.
And to think Republicans thought she would have been a better choice to become President than Barack Obama.