Abortion Matters, But Let’s Not Forget About Other Women’s Issues
I have a secret. Shhh. You can’t tell anyone. This is just between us. OK. Here goes…
I’m a woman and I care about other issues besides abortion.
Whew! I’ve been keeping that in for a while now. It’s good to get it off my chest. Oh what? You’re not impressed with my deep dark secret? Then I guess you’re not a host on Fox News (which isn’t a bad thing, by the way).
As Raw Story reports, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Republicans “disrespect” women when they vote against equal pay, minimum wage increases and paid sick leave, and when they don’t respect a woman’s agency over her own life. To normal people, this seems kind of obvious. I mean, women do make up way more than half of the minimum wage workforce in almost every state, so it makes sense that raising the minimum wage would be an issue near and dear to anyone working to make women’s lives better. (Actually, these issues should be near and dear to the hearts of anyone who wants to make anyone’s lives better, but I digress.)
What does Tucker Carlson think Pelosi is talking about? Ding ding ding! Abortion.
“So why doesn’t she just say abortion?” host Tucker Carlson quipped. “That’s what she’s talking about. Why doesn’t anybody ever use that word out loud if it’s such a great thing?”
Wow. Way to miss the point entirely. Actually, that’s not giving Tucker Carlson and the people of Fox News enough credit. Of course they know what they’re doing. By reducing “women’s issues” to abortion and abortion only, they make it easier to obscure the undeniable fact that conservatives do not have the desire or the will to reach out to women and work to end literally hundreds of years of systematic discrimination.
It’s hard to obscure a trail so long and well-documented. In 2010, not one Senate Republican voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act. For a while in 2012 the GOP blocked the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. And yes, mainstream Republican lawmakers and candidates are hostile to not only abortion, but contraception and family planning services.
More to the point, Republicans have been hostile to women for decades. Frank Rich at New York Magazine goes into the transformation in the context of the 2012 election in detail. It has become clear that conservatives are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of women as individuals with autonomy and power. The ability to decide when and how to have children is incredibly important to how women live their lives. It affects women physically, emotionally and economically. The decision whether or not to have children has come to symbolize a woman’s right to run her life the way she wants.
I am absolutely not saying that reproductive health isn’t important to many, if not most, women. It certainly is. But so are a lot of other things. People have different priorities at different times in their lives, and women are no different. (Oh gosh, it’s like women are people, too!) By reducing a multifaceted individual to just their baby-making parts, it serves to further dehumanize more than 50 percent of the population — which, I suspect, is the point.
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