The revelation that Vice President Mike Pence, a self-described evangelical Catholic, won't dine alone with any woman other than his wife has generated some discussion. More relevant to millions of women and their families is the fact that Mr. Pence was the tie-breaking vote allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood. Thus a man who professes his Christian faith as the prism for his actions has created the possibility that countless women will be unable to get vital medical care. Mr. Pence's opposition to this organization seems to be about abortions, which amounts to 3 percent of all the services it provides.
But back to the argument that too much public policy is tied to fundamentalist tenets about women. To wit, they are evil seductresses pitted against men who are weak.
Many Muslims call for women to have modest dress and cover their entire bodies. Some have women swaddled in burkas and hijabs so only the eyes are visible. Since almost a quarter of the world population is Muslim, there is a variance in dress requirements, with most opting for feminine modesty. It also amounts to millions of hidden women.
Ivanka Trump declares herself to be not only a convert to Judaism, but Orthodox as well. This sect separates men and women during prayer. These Jewish women are supposed to remain largely covered in public, thus no tank tops and short skirts. Once married, some who are extremely pious wear wigs while others cover their hair with hats and wraps. The reason is to camouflage their natural hair's beauty.
Attraction is something that must be muted and avoided. People apparently cannot be trusted to feel or sense an array of emotions and sexual desires while staying true to a relationship or their faith.
Thus, if these vestiges of belief cling to policy-making, then the short route to discrimination against women is easy to understand. If faith dictates that sex outside of marriage is wrong and should be used to "go forth and multiply," together with the belief of the wanton nature of women, then it may become easier to accept or even ossify the gender pay gap.
If women were not secondary and indistinguishable, then the reward in heaven would not be 40 virgins but rather a kind soul mate who loves and supports you.
If sex weren't tinged with lust, perhaps women could have more control over their bodies and their reproductive choices, and their children would be given the same support, legislation and protections offered to fetuses.
Women are getting angry. The day after the presidential inauguration, millions showed up to protest the administration, many of the statements President Trump bandied about during the campaign and the restrictive polices that seemed inevitable.
Not only did women in every state assemble and march, but they were joined by protestors all around the world. The numbers soared into the millions, and it has been recorded as the largest single-day demonstration in our country's history.
And how did the president respond? Immediately, surrounded by a coterie of middle-aged white men, he re-instituted the global gag order. This Reagan era policy would defund any nongovernmental organization throughout the world if it offered abortion or even discussed it. Thus women facing war, famine or drought, perhaps already raising other children, would have no option nor be told how to control their health and body.
Not all faiths cleave belief along gender lines. There is a Buddhist fable about the Dragon King's daughter who reached enlightenment. Thus being a female, a child and a serpent did not prevent her from realizing her Buddha nature.
Faith can be used to navigate the challenges of life. It should make people kinder, more connected. And it can elevate a life to inspire others. But it must shake off any limiting beliefs that harm more than half the world.
Barrie Friedland is a former political strategist who has worked for William Donald Schaefer, Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin. Her email is email@example.com.