Distracting from the War on Women


Housewifegate served no other function but to distract from the actual war on women. Arizona passes a scary new abortion ban, and Chris Mooney explains the science of political psychology.

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Megan Carpentier undergoes a transvaginal exam

Romney wants women to go back to work ASAP to learn the “dignity of work”

Romney couldn’t stand up for equal pay

More incoherent Limbaugh ranting

Arizona bans abortions after 20 weeks

Young Turks take on abortion ban

Right wing pundits get overexcited with images of female submission

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll look at how poorly the “housewife” gambit worked to shut down discussion of the war on women. Arizona is getting aggressive in that war on women conservatives keep denying, and Chris Mooney will be on to explain the science behind why conservatives just seem to be aggressively wrong about so many things.

Megan Carpentier, editor at Raw Story and friend of the show, underwent a transvaginal ultrasound on video so that people could see how uncomfortable and miserable it really is.

  • transvaginal *

Megan doesn’t like the “rape” language some pro-choicers use to emphasize that this is vaginal penetration against a woman’s will when required by the state for an abortion. But she was very clear that this was uncomfortable to the point where they didn’t do the full exam.

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So, if you were paying attention to the news a week and a half ago, you may have noticed that roughly the stupidest election year controversy imaginable happened, when a liberal pundit pointed out that Ann Romney isn’t a good advisor to her husband on women’s economic issues because she’s never worked outside the home and can’t relate at all to most women’s lives. This factually true statement gave Romney supporters an opportunity to take all sorts of phony umbrage on the behalf of stay-at-home mothers because the offender didn’t remember to tack on the phrase “outside of the home” when she said Ann Romney didn’t work, because any idiot could tell that’s what she meant. So we had to endure an epic amount of posing about how it’s liberals and feminists who are really waging war on women because someone supposedly said something mean about housewives that they didn’t actually say. The Romneys positioned themselves as the champions of women because they narrowly support a woman’s right to not work outside the home so as to stay home and watch the children. And that anyone who suggested staying at home to raise children wasn’t the same thing as work outside of the home was a big meanie McMeanyHead. Then Chris Hayes dug up this video of Mitt Romney making a speech in January.

  • women 1 *

So there you have it. Right there in his mouth: People who stay at home to raise children instead of work outside the home don’t have the “dignity of work”. His words, not mine. Unlike Mitt Romney, I believe that raising children is, in fact, work, and should be treated with dignity.

But enough with that. The entire thing was an elaborate farce constructed to distract from the actual issue of the war on women. Hayes talks some about it with his program, which was about how tax codes and public assistance screw mothers over economically. Then there’s the attack on something a lot of us thought, until a few years ago was settled: equal pay for equal work. A conservative Supreme Court made it nearly impossible for women who suffered pay discrimination to sue, and Congress passed a law rectifying that, which most Republicans didn’t vote for. Here’s how Romney’s team replied when asked about that on a press conference about women.

  • women 2 *

Women should be forced to work so they can learn “dignity”, but their employers shouldn’t be forced to pay them equally in a dignified manner. Romney is also on the record opposing the administration’s policy requiring employer-based insurance to cover contraception completely, which goes a long way towards rectifying the various ways women get paid less for equal work, this time in benefits. 

Meanwhile, Limbaugh was spinning out of control about the evil, evil women who want to work or not or whatever…. It was hard to follow, but the general idea was that feminists are wrong, and patriarchy is great, and if everyone just saw that women have it so much better under restrictive gender roles, all your problems would just disappear.

  • women 3 *

He says that like it’s a bad thing. But let’s review what these “human nature relationships” he’s longing for actually were. Men legally owned their wives, basically. Women weren’t allowed to own property, open bank accounts, or make decisions about their own body, since men had to do that for them. Women weren’t allowed to vote, and often were passed directly from father to husband like a piece of property. Men were allowed to beat and rape their wives basically with impunity. Women were barred from working in jobs that had good pay or authority, but were forced to be support staff for those people if they wanted to work. Which is actually one thing Limbaugh singled out in this rant as a good thing, though he vaguely talked about how he missed the days when women didn’t want “men’s” jobs, i.e. jobs that had good pay and real power, instead of just typing letters for people who have those jobs.

Limbaugh longs for the days when women were second class citizens legally as well as socially, but he takes the time to claim women had it better that way.

  • women 4 *

Yeah, women in his ideal world have three whole choices: You can clean up after people, type the letters of important men, or keep house and raise the children of men. Three whole choices! I don’t know why women complain so much.

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Insert interview

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Last week, the naughty state of the week was Texas, but this week, it’s time to swing that spotlight back to Arizona, which has gone bananas with the anti-choice legislation. They’ve now passed one of those popular bans on abortion after 20 weeks.

  • Arizona 1 *

Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law. There’s two very important things to remember about 20 week abortion bans. The first is that they’re largely aimed at disallowing women whose fetuses have birth defects from choosing abortion, because abortions that late in pregnancy are often the result of learning something horrible from an amniocentesis. Secondly, and more importantly, these bans are crafted deliberately as an attack on Roe v. Wade, which disallows these kinds of bans before the third trimester. The hope is that they can, by continuing to push the date back for when a woman can get an abortion, make it so hard for women that reproductive rights organizations are forced to respond. And then the hope is basically to rehear Roe v. Wade with an eye towards getting it overturned.

The bill also is incredibly and unusually specific about how to date when a pregnancy starts for the purposes of the ban. The Young Turks explained the problem.

  • Arizona 2 *

This timing issue created a lot of controversy and confusion, but the point of bringing this up is not just that it really makes it that much harder for a doctor to do their job correctly, but because there’s a very serious problem in trying to make law what is custom. The reason doctors do it this way is because it works best for their purpose, which is getting a woman proper medical care and charting her pregnancy. But when you make that kind of thing law,  it has a whole lot more ramifications. Saying that women can be legally pregnant two weeks before they conceive is a ripe opportunity for anti-choice mischief. Which the Young Turks pointed out succinctly.  

  • Arizona 3 *

The important thing to remember here is anti-choice legislators in Arizona should be assumed to have the worst intentions at all points in time. After all, they have a long history of writing already-bad bills that, when you examine them closely, contain a poison pill making them even more toxic.

  • Arizona 4 *

The bill went down when opponents pointed out that the bill not only gave employers right to deny coverage, but also to fire employees who are using contraception to have sex. After all, if you apply for coverage and your employer is allowed to peruse your medical records and ask about your sex life, they now have that info about you. And since Arizona is an at-will employment state, they can fire you for it. So it’s wise at this point to assume that the worst interpretation of any conservative bill in Arizona is the accurate one.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, talking about what really matters edition. Fox’s Todd Starnes called into the Jeff Katz show to discuss why they don’t think much of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, amongst other things.

  • hooters *

The whole segment was disgusting. In short order, we learned that in order to be acceptable women, one most oppose abortion rights, love Hooters, look like someone who could work at Hooters, and you know, being a housewife doesn’t hurt. The contradictions are immense, starting with the whole belief women should greet you tits out, but a woman who actually has sex deserves government punishment. 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte