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Women's Rights

Women don't need a 'Bill of Rights' to define us. We need policies that improve our lives.

Listen, women do face a lot of challenges and conversations about their rights are important. But this is not the way to do it.

Janelle Stecklein
Opinion contributor

I don鈥檛 need our government to tell me that I鈥檓 a woman.

And I shouldn鈥檛 have to prove I am one, either.

Yet, Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma want to require just that through a 鈥淲omen鈥檚 Bill of Rights鈥 that our this past week.

聽the bill is necessary to bring 鈥渃larity, certainty and uniformity鈥 to how women are treated under state law. It defines a woman as one whose reproductive system at some point produces, transports and utilizes eggs for fertilization.

They argue that their plan preserves equal opportunity for women, yet it ignores the fact that this is clearly an effort to harm our transgender residents or those who don鈥檛 identify by a specific gender.

'Women's Bill of Rights' is insulting

What rights does this guarantee me?

It certainly doesn鈥檛 fix the聽聽where women typically make about 81 cents to every dollar of their male counterparts. That鈥檚 worse than the national average.

It doesn鈥檛 give women back the right to make reproductive health decisions that they feel are in their best interest. (The legislature actually聽, along with GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt.)聽

I'm a woman in STEM.I had to leave Oklahoma. My state must do better for women's health.

It doesn鈥檛 increase women鈥檚 access to physicians. We rank聽聽primary care providers.

It does nothing to improve our聽maternal mortality rate, which is 30 deaths per 100,000 live births, much higher than the national average of 23 per 100,000.

Frankly, the legislation, which passed because of overwhelming support from male lawmakers, is downright insulting to women and their 鈥渞ights.鈥

If we want to bring uniformity to how women are treated under law, how about we don鈥檛 create a culture where men and women can challenge each other鈥檚 femininity and masculinity?

How will women be able to prove our femininity if someone dares challenge it?聽

Oklahoma's new law will harm young women, trans community

I鈥檝e personally seen a woman questioned about her gender because she dressed in male clothing and had a hair style typically seen on men. She was trying to use a female locker room to dress. Spoiler alert, she was as female as I am.

The measure doesn鈥檛 address how exactly we鈥檙e to prove to authorities we鈥檙e egg producers.

Isolated banner holded by a black woman, and her fist up in a white background, and written: Women's rights.

If challenged by the gender police, are we going to be required to provide some extremely personal health information or perhaps undergo an invasive pat down or strip search to see if we have male genitalia?

If that sounds far-fetched, let me catch you up.

The聽Oklahoma Secondary Sports Activities Association聽has started requiring female student athletes to provide intimate details . Critics say it鈥檚 an effort to measure whether a student is female enough to participate in girl鈥檚 sports. The agency, which isn鈥檛 run by medical doctors, argues that the info helps them flag medical conditions.

That鈥檚 not something many women typically discuss with each other, let alone a complete stranger.

And, that鈥檚 not information that anybody should want in the government鈥檚 grubby hands. It would probably end up in some sort of database that鈥檚 later used for some unintended purpose.

Or worse 鈥 what鈥檚 to stop someone from maliciously weaponizing this?

Ensuring women's rights is important. This isn't the way to do it.

尝颈蝉迟别苍,听聽and conversations about their rights are important. But this is not the way to do it.聽

Man vs. bear:I've spent time with bears and men. In the woods, I'd rather run into the bear.

Women are underrepresented in our legislature and in leadership roles.聽

They face higher rates of poverty.聽

They face workplace discrimination.聽

They often bear the lion鈥檚 share of child care responsibilities.聽

They face sexual and physical violence at the hands of intimate partners.

In our own state, the governor earlier this year聽聽to attend a leadership program designed to serve as an entry point into politics.

Where鈥檚 the legislation to guarantee the reinstatement of that program?

Janelle Stecklein

One thing that women are not struggling with is defining their own gender.

The last thing we need is Big Brother to try to define that for us.

We know who we are.聽

And it would be nice if our leaders could respect that and spend time on policies that truly make our lives better.

Janelle Stecklein is editor of Oklahoma Voice. An award-winning journalist, Stecklein has been covering Oklahoma government and politics since moving to the state in 2014. This column first appeared in The Oklahoman.

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