This week the House of Representatives passed a law that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. The bill was introduced by Arizona Republican Trent Franks. But, after Franks pulled a Todd Akin and said that “the incidence of rape resulting from pregnancy is very low,” the House leadership decided that Franks wouldn’t be allowed to manage his own bill on the floor. Instead, that honor goes to anti-choice Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn.
Do you see what they did there? A male GOP lawmaker says something dumb and untrue about female reproduction, and how do they fix the situation? Just put a woman in charge! No one will notice how damaging this bill is to women’s rights if make the face of the bill a woman!
OK, but maybe she’s just the best person for this job. Baloney. Franks is on the House Judiciary Committee, where the bill originated. The leadership could have assigned this bill to someone else on the committee. But you know what? There are no Republican women on that committee. Hmmm…
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Remember the 2008 presidential election? Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton had an absolutely brutal primary fight. Obama won that fight, and a lot of Clinton supporters felt betrayed. John McCain needed to look at least a little modern. I mean, he was an old white man going up against the epitome of the American dream!† Put a woman on the ticket! Who cares if McCain put “women’s health” in derisive air quotes? We have Sarah Palin!
I see this a lot, both in politics as well as my personal life. More than once (too many times to count, in fact) I’ve been told that I’m overreacting when I express offense at gender-based insults and remarks. The offender finds one woman who doesn’t take offense and concludes that whatever was done is totally OK. Instead of listening to my problems as a person, they find another representative of my group to legitimize their behavior. It’s gross.
This is what the GOP is doing with this abortion bill. They are saying, Look! This woman is totally cool with having her reproductive freedom hideously restricted, so we can’t be anti-woman!
Except they totally can. Sadly, having a female body doesn’t make you immune from having really sexist attitudes. But the flip side of that is that men aren’t inherently misogynist. I felt like this fact was made very clear when we compared Palin and Joe Biden in the 2008 campaign.
Think about it? Who would you rather be an advocate for women, Joe Biden, advocate for victims of domestic violence, or Sarah Palin, who thinks abortion should be illegal in cases of rape and incest? The choice seems obvious.
Unless you’re thinking like a gender essentialist, that is. But you can’t think that way, and it’s insulting to find that at least some politicians think they can fool us.
That isn’t to say that women can’t have differing opinions on different topics. Women, like men, are a group of individuals with different priorities. Palin and Blackburn demonstrate this. But there is no sense in pretending that the positions they hold are inherently feminist, just like there is no sense in pretending that the Veep is inherently anti-feminist because of his gender.
Of course, I don’t know of anyone who is arguing this directly. But, when the GOP behaves in the way I’ve described, it seems to be their underlying assumption. If they can just find a woman to support their policies, that must mean that any woman who doesn’t support their policies is just being hysterical. It provides cover that – they hope – will distort how anti-woman they have become.
I’m sick of it. I’m sick of a Republican party that is more concerned with how their policies look than how their policies affect real people. Does the GOP really think that a coat of paint will fix the gender gap? Color me skeptical. We’re on to you.
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