BettyJean Downing Kling
I have been calling for women to end this ‘war on women’ by refusing to play or rather be played but the beat goes on. As usual the Republicans simply deny they have been less than favorable to so-called women’s issues and the Democrats pump women up embellishing every little thing they can exploit. The following article written by a Democrat is clearly trying to point out facts without creating an escalation to the war and so I applaud the author with one exception. He clearly wants the reader to believe that the current administration has been moving towards supporting the ratification of ERA, that is simply is not the case. If you read the statement carefully it refers to the amendment appears in one or the other’s party platform. We need it passed not just placed in the platform for window dressing. I have not heard one word about ERA out of this administrations mouth. Let’s make that real clear!
The amendment was never again mentioned in the GOP’s platform. By contrast, support for the amendment was reintroduced into the DNC’s official platform in 2008, led in part by then-candidate Barack Obama. http://www.concordy.com/article/opinions/april-26-2012/party-views-of-the-supposed-war-on-women/4565/
I have said and will continue to rant on and on that we need to step up right now and ask Republicans to end the debate by rectifying several issues that will take the wind out of the War on Women’s sails. I am tired of being used by either side and all I ask is that they both give us the equality we deserve by putting the ERA on the table never mind in the party platform where it sits and goes not further.
Now is the time- both parties are vying for the majority vote- don’t waste it – get out and demand they put some bite into their promises and give us our due! We are and can be the greatest lobby for women’s rights and now is the time. Demand ERA from both parties and do it now!
We hear it on an almost daily basis from political commentators these days. The idea that Republicans are waging a “war on women” coming from the left, and counter-accusations that Democrats have simply invented the idea out of whole cloth for political gain. The roots of this particular issue frame can be found in the controversy over the Obama administration’s order that religiously affiliated organizations such as Catholic hospitals must provide insurance coverage for contraception in their health plans.
Many conservatives object to this mandate, arguing that it amounts to an infringement of religious liberties by forcing organizations that oppose contraception on theological grounds to violate their consciences.
Speaking objectively, either way of framing the issue, as one of religious liberty or women’s healthcare, could have become the dominant narrative, but for reasons I will explain below, the Democrats’ preferred slogan that the GOP was threatening the rights of women seems to have won out. A simple look at the latest polls, where Mitt Romney trails Barack Obama by nearly 20 points among women would seem to confirm this.
This deficit among women that the all-but-assured GOP presidential nominee faces is potentially a big problem. As Nick D’Angelo ’14 correctly pointed out in last week’s opinion page, voters in crucial states such as Florida, Ohio, and Virginia will likely decide November’s contest as well, and the key to winning these states may well come down to which candidate can win over suburban, middle-class, and largely white women.
But why have the Democrats been so successful, at least for now, in putting forward the “war on women” argument? Indeed, D’Angelo was also correct in pointing out that Democrats haven’t always been terribly judicious in recent months in choosing their words when discussing women generally, and stay-at-home mothers specifically. As a Democrat myself, however, I’m not terribly concerned about my party losing its edge among women because I believe, to paraphrase an old adage, policies speak louder than words.
A look at the last 40 years, as well as laws currently being debated and passed, might help illustrate what I mean. In 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would have enshrined legal protection for women against discrimination in the Constitution, though it failed to be ratified by the requisite 38 states. Support for the ERA during the 1970s could be found among both Republicans and Democrats, with even Richard Nixon endorsing the amendment. As time passed, however, the GOP became increasingly hostile to the ERA, led largely by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. While the party’s platform in 1972 fully endorsed the amendment, this position was revised at the 1980 Republican National Convention to one of neither support nor opposition to the ERA. The amendment was never again mentioned in the GOP’s platform. By contrast, support for the amendment was reintroduced into the DNC’s official platform in 2008, led in part by then-candidate Barack Obama.
Shifting to the present, a series of laws at the state and federal level have been proposed and passed by Republicans which directly and negatively impact the lives of real women. Just a few examples include Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signing into law a measure repealing an earlier provision which made it easier for women to sue their employers over wage discrimination, all eight GOP Senators on the Judiciary Committee voting against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and Virginia’s state Republicans recent passage of a bill requiring an invasive and unnecessary trans-vaginal ultrasound before a woman can proceed with an abortion. Perhaps the most striking of recent votes dealing with women’s issues, however, was the passage in 2009 of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to facilitate litigation against employers discriminating against female employees. In the House of Representatives, only three Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while only five moderate GOP Senators supported the legislation.
I am not suggesting that all Republicans are sexist and all Democrats are progressive defenders of women’s rights. Indeed, it was recently revealed that women working in Obama’s White House were themselves paid less than their male counterparts, albeit by a smaller margin than in the country at large, an embarrassing oversight which I hope the President will soon rectify. However, taking a wide view of the political landscape, at both the federal and state levels, reveals that Republicans do in fact seem more inclined than Democrats to support laws which women perceive as detrimental to their interests. American women are smart, and when they see the GOP working against laws which seek to address the pay inequality that exists between them and their male co-workers, facilitate their access to birth control, and supporting humiliating medical procedures forced on them by politicians, accusations of conservatives waging a “war on women” are likely to resonate. If Republicans want to be electorally viable in the future, they must reign in the those within their party who advance policies which appear more in step with the 1950s than 2012.
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