If you haven’t noticed, I like to use a quote at the top of my blog entries as a way of setting the tone of the essay. I usually don’t quote myself, but when I woke up one morning recently and heard the news about the Republican candidate from Indiana for U.S. Senate, Richard Mourdock, “Ya gotta be kiddin’ me!” is what basically what fell out of my mouth. (I know it's not poetry, but hey, it was 6 a.m.) In political life terms Mourdock’s statement is ‘old news’ by now, but it has honestly taken me several days to get past “ya gotta be kiddin’ me” to contemplating this social phenomena among Republican candidates.
In case you missed it, in response to a debate question about abortion, Mourdock said he believes rape, even though terrible, is “God’s will”.
What is the Republican obsession with rape? Paul Ryan, who is simultaneously running for Vice President and Congress, called rape ‘a method of conception’. Talk about understatement. What happened to the notion, “rape is rape” – a conception doesn’t bless the atrocity. Why don’t they get it?
Then there’s the knucklehead from the Show Me State, Todd Akin, who claims that a woman has a way of magically preventing a pregnancy in the event of a ‘legitimate rape’. Translation - women who get pregnant from a rape really wanted to be raped.
Top off this pack of yahoos with self-professed OB-GYN, Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois, who said that thanks to advances in medicine women simply don’t die from complications from pregnancy anymore and therefore, there is no need for abortion to save the life of the mother.
But wait! There’s more!!! Add to this misogynistic mess legislative moves that are in direct conflict with the welfare of women in this country.
The person-hood laws that have been pushed in some states such as Colorado and Mississippi are a profound attack on the rights of women. At least the voters of those states had the sense to understand the ramifications of such a tactic on a woman’s ability to control her own destiny, to save her life, to not be violated again and again by being forced to assume a responsibility they never asked for.
In some states, like Wisconsin, equal pay for equal work laws which have protected female employees have been repealed or challenged. Yeah, why not repeal them? What would a woman do with all that money anyway? Buy shoes? Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman suggested that women do not need to be paid as much as men for the same job because they don’t need money as much as men. As a single mother of two beautiful children who has put a roof over their heads, fed them, taught them, and sent them to music lessons, horse riding lessons, sports camps, college and so on, I can assure you that I needed money.
Apparently, in Grothman’s bubble, paying the bills, providing for a family and putting kids through college is man’s work. That’s arcane in so many respects. Women are people, believe it or not, and they want the same opportunities as men with regards to their own destiny. On top of that, as the middle class has shrunk so has the capability of most men to be a sole provider. Both genders have been adversely affected by the loss of middle class jobs, but instead of talking about good jobs at living wages for everyone, Republicans would rather suggest that women have somehow prevented men from fulfilling their social obligations. We’re just in the way, ya know.
On the Lilly Ledbetter act, which was the first thing President Obama signed upon assuming office, Mitt Romney goes into full avoidance mode. He sidestepped the question in the second debate, and instead went on a diatribe about “binders full of women”. That anecdote was not only a dodge, but also false. He did not seek out a female cabinet member. The binder was brought to him.
Romney would also end government support of Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive health services, contraception and more to millions of women in this country.
The only thing I can conclude about this renewed debate about abortion, especially as it’s put into the context of other ‘women’s issues’ is that it is not really about supporting life – it’s about oppressing life.
If the Republicans ever want to redeem themselves with women (which I honestly don’t see happening) they need to stop thinking of us as women [aka property) and start thinking of us as people (aka self-determined beings). They should think in terms of what a job is worth and whether it offers a living wage, not ‘who will do the job?’ They should focus on the kind of healthcare people need to stay healthy, not 'what kind of healthcare they will permit women to have?' And most importantly, they should never assert a claim over a person’s body – ever.