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Attacking the “War on Women”

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 01:04

Photo by Olivier Douliery/MCT Campus

This year’s presidential election has brought about renewed discussions about many of the roles of women in society.


If you have been keeping up with the news, you have surely heard about the “war on women.” Women have suddenly become the campaign topic du jour, and both parties are fighting for our souls (well, at least our votes).

I really cannot express how annoying this “war on women” is to me. Let me start with the term itself. What exactly is meant by the phrase that both parties “bandy about?” Both sides blame the other for instigating the alleged “war,” using a myriad of evidence as fodder for the fire.

The whole idea that women as a bloc have been downgraded to a campaign ploy, to me at least, is quite offensive. Do all women have the same viewpoint? Please. There are very few things that women as a voting bloc agree upon en masse.

Although he is guilty in his own fashion of engaging in the mythical war on women, President Obama recently stated my point very eloquently.

“Women are not some monolithic bloc. Women are not an interest group. . . . Women are over half this country and its workforce,” he said.

Thank you. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Even so-called “women issues” (i.e. abortion) produce mixed emotions among women. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 50 percent of women define themselves as “pro-choice” and 44 percent define themselves as “pro-life.” This is nearly identical with their male counterparts: 49 percent of men define themselves as “pro-choice” and 46 percent as “pro-life.” The same poll finds both age and party affiliation to be better indicators of viewpoint on this issue than gender. 

I am going to admit here that I have a liberal bias as to who is winning this manufactured war. I think that a lot of the claims that Republicans have been making about Democrats are just an attempt to turn the tide and obtain more of the female vote. Republicans have not been successful with this, according to the polls. Let’s look at some of the claims.

First, consider the Republican claim as to why Democrats are conducting a “war on women.”

Mitt Romney recently argued that women have suffered 92.3 percent of the job losses under the Obama administration. Zing, Obama administration. Ball’s in your court.

While this statistic is staggering (and a great talking point for the Romney campaign), it is misleading when taken out of context.

In this case, one needs to remember that the recession began 13 months before the Obama administration entered office. Men were hit much harder in terms of job loss, leading to the recession to be referred to as a “man-cession.”  This is not particularly uncommon during a recession, since male-dominated sectors, such as manufacturing and construction, tend to be the first to get hit.

Therefore, women lost jobs during the later months and years of the recession, when state and local governments started to feel the impact and fired teachers and other public-sector workers.

When looked at overall, men still have been more significantly impacted. According to The Washington Post, approximately 3.4 million men have lost jobs since the start of the recession, compared to 1.8 million women.

What’s that old joke? 67 percent of all statistics are made up?

Another Republican insinuation was sparked by a comment from political insider Hilary Rosen.

What was this comment that stirred so much controversy? Rosen re-opened the so-called “mommy wars” debate over whether being a stay-at-home mom was work or not. She stated that GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s wife Ann has never “worked a day in her life.”

Republicans jumped on this comment, trying to portray Rosen as a mouthpiece for the Obama administration. Let’s get something straight from the get-go.  Rosen (despite insistence from certain GOP talking-heads) is not officially affiliated with the Obama campaign. Agreeably, she is a Democrat and has advised the administration in the past, but she was not speaking for the president when she made her now-infamous comment.

What about the brouhaha over the comment? Were Republicans right to accuse Rosen — regardless of whether she was speaking for the president or not — of being insensitive to mothers?

The answer is yes and no. Nobody argues that being a stay-at-home mom is easy, especially when you are raising five boys, as Ann Romney did. I am sure that this required infinite amounts of energy, patience and hard work. So in that sense, Rosen was wrong to say that Romney had not worked a day in her life.

However, can we be honest for a few seconds here? Although Rosen stated it quite tactlessly, the point she was trying to make is valid. Again, one has to look at the entire context of what was said, not just the solitary quote.

 In full, Hilary Rosen said to CNN host Anderson Cooper, “What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying: ‘Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.’”

And then the whole not working a day in her life thing.

To me, the point she was trying to make is that Mitt Romney was wrong for looking to his wife as a weather vane of the female vote. How can she be the determinate of the thoughts of all women of the country? Regardless of whether she has officially held a job, she is not the voice of all American women, just as Rosen is not the voice of all Democrats. Furthermore, the Romney family is quite wealthy, which in part gave Ann Romney the option to stay at home. I am not claiming what she decided was not noble. However, her economic status is very different than that of many women in this country. Again, the idea that Mitt is turning to her for authority on the viewpoints of American women is, well, just silly.

On the other hand (again, I know, liberal bias), Democrats do have some stronger ammunition to accuse the Republicans of conducting a war on women. Let me rephrase this. I do not think that the issues should be blocked under the term “war on women.” However, the issues that the Democrats have brought up are valid and important (i.e. access to abortion, contraception, the Violence Against Women Act, etc.).

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