Collateral Damage From the War on Women


The war on women hurts Mitt Romney at the polls, especially with female voters. Two important stories out of the states, and a discussion of the awesome power of Madonna.

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Romney trailing in swing states with women

Wisconsin terrorist attack

Why not call it terrorism?

Georgia abortion ban

Another day, another anti-choice nut comparing women to farm animals

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be covering how much damage the war on women is doing to Romney’s campaign. Also, two big news stories out of the states, and a digression into the awesome sexual power of Madonna.

Rachel Maddow recently had reason to ask the question that eventually all who deal with the anti-choice movement find themselves compelled to ask.

  • maddow *

Well, yes, they certainly do think that. Which is why anti-choicers cheerfully claim that abortion causes depression and breast cancer, and that contraception is abortion, and that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion and really, there’s too many lies to even know where to begin. Yes, they do think being “pro-life” exempts them from having to live in the factual world.

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The war on women is a funny thing. I believe it’s being conducted in large part out of passion, which is to say the people who are pushing for more restrictions on abortion and cutting off access to contraception really do think women are nothing more than baby buckets, and want to do everything in their power to force them back into that role. But it’s also about politics. Attacks on reproductive rights are an attempt to rally the support of the religious right, who are good door-knockers and voters if they’re sufficiently motivated. The trick, then, for conservative politicians is to pander to the religious right without getting too much attention from the mainstream media, and accidentally alerting female voters that aren’t fundamentalist Christians about how radical you are. That’s because women will turn on you if they think their basic rights are truly threatened.

Anti-choicers have had a remarkable track record at being able to chip away at reproductive rights without crossing the line into the territory where they awaken the sleeping beast, but as you know, the past few months that stopped being true. Attacks on contraception and the phrase “transvaginal probe” woke women up to how out of control the anti-choice movement has gotten. And now the presidential campaign is being affected.

  • Romney 1 *

Well, that’s cute, feeding into this weird presumption that women are some tiny special interest group whose desires can be ignored while trying to “win ‘em all”. It’s also utterly wrong-headed. Women actually out-vote men, by about 8 percentage points. Now obviously, women are a diverse group and many of them actually agree with misogynist policies. Older women and married women tend to be more conservative. But the thing is that the percentage of women that are unmarried is climbing as of late, and if they can get motivated to vote in large numbers, they will be a massive force pushing this election to the left.

What’s interesting is that Romney hasn’t held office in years and so hasn’t really had a role to play in affecting the policies that are making women angry. But Democrats have been able to effectively hang the war on women around his neck with ads such as this one.

  • Romney 2 *

To be fair, Romney clearly did this to himself by pandering when it comes to the war on women. In an attempt to win over voters that are stampeding to Gingrich and Santorum, Romney is using aggressive rhetoric on the subject of contraception access, attacking both rules requiring insurance companies to cover it and also attacking government subsidies that help women who can’t otherwise afford contraception to get it through clinics like Planned Parenthood. Hell, he went a step further and basically implied the President has the power to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. That’s not really true. Even if the President uses his power to eliminate Title X funding, that wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of Planned Parenthood. It would mean that their ability to serve underserved women was severely reduced, but they would exist in some form.

Romney may front to reporters like he doesn’t need women’s support, but his campaign is pushing his wife out there in a desperate attempt to get some of those lost voters back.

  • Romney 3 *

Personally, I’m skeptical of the “look, I have a wife!” strategy when it comes to trying to distract female voters from anti-woman stances and policies. After all, the opposition invariably has a wife, too, so it seems the voters who are mainly looking to see if a candidate has a wife are going to be back at square one. This is particularly true even if you get into that “strong woman” political blather. The opponent that Romney has to worry about right now is Obama, and if you’ll recall, Obama also has a wife that’s well-regarded as charming and oh yes, strong.

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insert interview

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 A couple of big stories on the state level with regards to reproductive rights to cover. First off, the distressing news about a Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin.

  • states 1 *

There’s a number of things that are important to note about this story. First of all, it’s not likely a coincidence that the bomb went off right before a Republican primary. While it’s customary to pretend that Christian right terrorism is lone wolf nut behavior with no relationship to the larger anti-choice movement, the timing of this suggests otherwise. In reality, terrorists—whether Christian or Muslim—are using violence to try to make a political impact. The escalation of anti-choice rhetoric on the right surely played a hand in this, and the timing suggests the bomber was trying to communicate something with regards to the Republican Party.

The other important thing to understand is that this is, in fact, a terrorist attack. For some reason, when Christian right terrorists attack, there’s an unwillingness in much of the mainstream media to label their behavior “terrorism”. The Young Turks complained about this problem.

  • states 2 *

It’s important to remember that people who do this sort of thing think they’re morally justified. When we refuse to call it terrorism, that only reinforces their sense that violence is within the bounds of reasonable behavior. The fact that the anti-choice movement that incites violence by targeting specific doctors and clinics isn’t held responsible for this is outrageous.

  • states 3 *

That another state is banning abortion after 20 weeks is so common now as to barely count as a “news story” anymore, but the Georgia situation has that little extra something that makes it a fascinating story. There was a protracted fight over whether or not to let women terminate pregnancies that aren’t viable after 20 weeks. The antis don’t care if there’s 0% chance of you delivering a live baby, they want you to carry to term, since this was never about “life”, but about maximizing women’s pain and suffering. The slightly less awful side wanted to allow women abortions in these particular cases. The eventual “compromise” allowing this bill to head to the governor’s desk is that women who need these abortions will be allowed to have labor induced. They still have to go through labor and delivery, but they won’t be forced to carry to term. This is Georgia’s idea of “compassion”.

The debate over whether or not to force women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term brought out some of the ugliest rhetoric that anti-choicers have to wield against women, such as equating women with farm animals.

  • state 4 *

Yep, he compared the experience of a woman being forced to carry a non-viable pregnancy to term to being a farmer learning that he’s not going to have as many animals to raise for slaughter as he thought. Which implicitly compares women to farm animals, of course, but also makes you wonder what exactly this representative, Terry England, thinks is going to be done with the babies that he wants the state of Georgia to force women to bear.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Rush Limbaugh’s ongoing “co-ed” obsession edition. I’m beginning to wonder if Limbaugh realizes college students are real people, since he talks about them strictly as if they’re characters in an ongoing porn loop in his head.

  • Limbaugh *

Of course, this is all part of a completely incoherent rant where he’s both angry that there’s student debt and angry that students want government action to lower student debt. Everything makes him angry, even things that contradict each other, but especially that someone out there is having sex without him.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • malematters

    Women are a majority because as a group they live longer than men, who die sooner of the 12 leading causes of death. Because the male sex is penalized by an earlier demise, men are also penalized by having less importance as voters.

    Thus, Democrats, while waging a war on Republicans by accusing them of waging a war on women, are waging a war on women of an insidious kind. They are recklessly pandering to women. They continuously promise them something for nothing — and no doubt anger more than a few men, especially black men, whom President Obama has discriminatorily ignored — and disregard the business costs that hurt women as much as men.

    Consider the pandering Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Obama signed into law solely to repay feminists for upping female votes. While Obama tells women the act will help close the gender wage gap — women’s 78 cents to men’s dollar — he won’t tell them this:

    No law yet has closed the wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – http://tinyurl.com/74cooen), not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because pay-equity advocates continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at http://tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at http://tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed more women are staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman. Yet, if “greedy, profit-obsessed” employers could get away with paying women less than men for the same work, they would not hire a man – ever.)
     
    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home.

    Feminists, government, and the media ignore what this obviously implies: If millions of wives are able to accept no wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives are able to:

    -accept low wages
    -refuse overtime and promotions
    -choose jobs based on interest first, pay second — men tend to do the opposite
    -work part-time instead of full-time (“According to a 2009 UK study for the Centre for Policy Studies, only 12 percent of the 4,690 women surveyed wanted to work full time”: http://bit.ly/ihc0tl See also an Australian report at http://tinyurl.com/862kzes)
    -take more unpaid days off
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (http://tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)

    All of which LOWER WOMEN’S AVERAGE PAY.

    Women are able to make these choices because they are supported — or anticipate being supported — by a husband who must earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap. If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.

    Afterword: The power in money is not in earning it (there is only responsibility, sweat, and stress in earning money). The power in money is in SPENDING it. And, Warren Farrell says in The Myth of Male Power at http://www.warrenfarrell.org/TheBook/index.html, “Women control consumer spending by a wide margin in virtually every consumer category.” (Women’s control over spending, adds Farrell, gives women control over TV programs.) “A recent research study revealed that the average woman spends eight years of her life shopping [spending] — over 300 shopping trips per year. Men, only a fraction of that.” -
    http://www.terryoreilly.ca/blog/show/id/78

    “Nearly half of all American women think they are doing much better in their career than the man in their life, according to a new poll.” http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/half_of_women_feel_more_successful_eao9N2neTpnJZLwFmEONgK#ixzz1rMad9gsF

    So…does the Ledbetter Act help? Or does it pander to women? Actually, the war is on men, especially black men, who get the double whammy of racism and sexism.

    Excerpted from “Will the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Help Women?” at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/

    Regarding the Presidents White House Council on Women and Girls: “What does President Obama Mean for Men?” at  http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/what-does-president-obama-mean-for-men/

     

  • prochoiceferret

    Women are a majority because as a group they live longer than men, who die sooner of the 12 leading causes of death. Because the male sex is penalized by an earlier demise, men are also penalized by having less importance as voters.

     

    Penalized? More like… penile-ized!

     

    Thus, Democrats, while waging a war on Republicans by accusing them of waging a war on women, are waging a war on women of an insidious kind. They are recklessly pandering to women. They continuously promise them something for nothing — and no doubt anger more than a few men, especially black men, whom President Obama has discriminatorily ignored — and disregard the business costs that hurt women as much as men.

     

    Meanwhile, Republicans support and pass laws that restrict womens’ access to abortion and contraception, while keeping on giving rich people tax breaks they don’t need, and taking benefits and services from not-so-rich people who actually need them. Being in favor of women having reproductive rights and health is not something I’d think of as pandering, unless your meaning of “pander” is something like “advocate for someone’s rights.” (Ex. “Martin Luther King Jr. pandered a lot to Blacks”)

     

    Consider the pandering Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Obama signed into law solely to repay feminists for upping female votes.

     

    No, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was in fact signed to “help close the gender wage gap — women’s 78 cents to men’s dollar.”

     

    No law yet has closed the wage gap … because pay-equity advocates continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

     

    No, actually, no law yet has closed the wage gap because sexism is endemic in our society and very hard to stamp out. That’s not to say all the laws you mentioned haven’t helped, however (though I’m sure you’d say that).

     

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all.

     

    Which has nothing to do with the gender wage gap, because the gap is defined as the average difference in wages between men and women in the same position, doing the same work. You didn’t actually think housewives were included in that calculation, did you?

     

    All of which LOWER WOMEN’S AVERAGE PAY.

     

    But does not FIGURE INTO THE GENDER WAGE GAP. Because that’s not how it’s CALCULATED. (I see you’re a big fan of CAPITALIZING random WORDS, so I’m just PLAYING along.)

     

    If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.

     

    Yes, and maybe men would also have a minority of positions of power in government, corporate boardrooms, newrooms, and other important places. Just as women do now.

     

    Afterword: The power in money is not in earning it (there is only responsibility, sweat, and stress in earning money). The power in money is in SPENDING it. And, Warren Farrell says in The Myth of Male Power at http://www.warrenfarrell.org/TheBook/index.html, “Women control consumer spending by a wide margin in virtually every consumer category.” (Women’s control over spending, adds Farrell, gives women control over TV programs.) “A recent research study revealed that the average woman spends eight years of her life shopping [spending] — over 300 shopping trips per year. Men, only a fraction of that.” -

     

    So apparently, the real locus of power in our society is Saks Fifth Avenue, not Pennsylvania Avenue.

     

    “Nearly half of all American women think they are doing much better in their career than the man in their life, according to a new poll.”

     

    Good thing we have actual numbers to back up the gender wage gap, and not just opinion surveys!

     

    So…does the Ledbetter Act help? Or does it pander to women? Actually, the war is on men, especially black men, who get the double whammy of racism and sexism.

     

    Funny, your post doesn’t seem to come down very hard on either of those -isms. In fact, it seems rather favorable to at least one of them.

  • malematters

    In my humble opinion, you do not understand very much at all about the gender wage gap.

  • prochoiceferret

    In my humble opinion, you do not understand very much at all about the gender wage gap.

     

    In my factually accurate opinion, you know enough about the gender wage gap to realize that you’re helping to perpetuate it. Too bad you’re not humble enough to hold the opinion that women deserve equal pay for equal work.