Women Only Vote For Women Who Are Pro-Woman

by d

We’ve run several posts recently about women achieving in politics, both through election and appointment. But there are plenty of women getting ahead in politics right now who I am not happy to cheer for. I’m talking about women like Sharon Angle, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Christine O’Donnell–the list is growing apace, which is itself highly unusual. When did women become so ubiquitous in US politics? And why on earth are so many of them conservative?

There’s a notion floating right now that conservative women are ‘taking back’ feminism. They’re gonna wrench the womens movement out of the hands of screechy, man-hating, too-ugly-to-get-a-date-so-I-went-lesbian feminists, and turn it into a means to justify the lifestyles they themselves are now leading (lifestyles made possible by those feminists). I am happy for these women who are taking to politics, but I’m not happy about the ones who use their soapboxes to work against womens’ interests. There’s nothing like the hypocrisy of, say, Ann Coulter, who says women are too stupid to vote or manage money, yet she herself has made quite a pretty penny telling people how they should vote.

This year’s influx of female candidates is so anti-abortion, they qualify as anti-woman. Too many do not support the one clause that usually makes anti-abortion legislation more widely palatable–they don’t support exceptions in the case of rape or incest.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran a segment this week about “Women Candidates vs. Womens’ Rights.” Go watch the video here, or continue reading for quotes. There are some beautiful ones from both her and her guest, Melissa Harris-Lacewell.

Rachel begins the video by taking a look at what happened in the 2008 presidential race, with McCain selecting Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate.

Although ‘women candidates = women voters’ seems to make sense, also check the evidence that women vote for their own interests, not just for their own chromosomes.

I realize it’s reasonable to look at candidates and think, “Look, woman! I wonder what the other women will do in reaction to the sight of these women!”

YES, thank you! The decision to include Palin was clearly motivated by one thing: stealing Hillary voters from Obama. They thought they could do this with a woman, any woman.

I remember when she was selected. All the women I knew were unsure where to stand. Who was Sarah Palin? Awesome that she was a woman, but what else was she? We soon learned. And it wasn’t long at all before Women Against Sarah Palin was launched.

Here’s the news flash, folks. Women don’t all think alike. We don’t share a brain. Hell, if astrology can’t accurately predict what 1/12 of the population is doing, why on earth would you think that assumptions about 50% of it have any hope of being right?

Rachel then invited Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell of Princeton to join her. This is a huge chunk of text, which just goes to show have amazing she is, but it’s worth reading in its entirety. (If you’d rather listen/watch, try the video.)

So on the one hand, there’s this little tiny bit of me that wants to cheer for the fact that you have women candidates willing to be sort of courageous enough to put themselves forward in this very tough political situation. On the other hand, let’s be completely clear about the facts here. There is no place in the world and no time in history where restricting women’s reproductive rights makes a people or a nation more free or more equal. These extreme positions on abortion are without any question a war on American girls and women. And the fact that there are women who are both complicit and participatory in it is really neither surprising nor unprecedented. It has always been true, and it is incredible important that we recognize that despite the fact that we can be very proud of these women as women, and as politicians, that the questions is, how do women as citizens fare on the other side of them being elected or not elected.

What I suspect is actually that it has more to do with kind of our ignorance of our understanding about women’s life experiences, even as [other] women. When you talk about the rape and incest clause, I suspect that many Americans, maybe even many pro-choice Americans think that rape and incest and pregnancy resulting from it is a pretty unusual occurrence. They suspect that, you know, that maybe there’s a–there’s a few dozen women for whom that would make a difference in any given year. But the fact is that a sexual assault is an embarrassingly common experience. I don’t mean embarrassing for those who are victimized, but rather, embarrassing that in our country it’s still true that one in four girls and women is likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. And we know that particularly in cases of incest, the question of possible pregnancy–because incest is often a repeated violation and one that does not often include protection–that the possibility of pregnancy is very real. We’re talking about hundreds of women, thousands of women in pregnancies.

And, look, I’m from a people who really did experience the need to hold on to a God who would see them through difficult times, including generations of black women who in slavery were forced to bear the children of their rapists. And I do believe, because I’m a person of faith, in an interceding God that can help people through difficult circumstances. But I’m also an American who believes that the point of government isn’t to make life so hard for half of our citizens that the only force there to help them is God. We, as a government and as a people, deserve and should do better.

Thank you, Melissa. You just wrote my whole post on this issue for me. 🙂

10 Comments to “Women Only Vote For Women Who Are Pro-Woman”

  1. Wow, great post, D! I totally agree. You’re so good with words and your posts are always so informative and well-written! 🙂 Even though this one had a large portion of it as a quote, it was still great. I completely agree, as well. I am happy that so many women are finding their way to politics and are able to succeed in it, I’m just sorry that it happens to be the women who are bent on taking away rights from me and all other American women.

    And you are quite right that Sarah Palin was chosen just to take Hillary votes away from Obama. They even had a commercial running on television and on the radio talking about some woman who supposedly used to be a Democrat and was a Hillary supporter, but when she lost the primary and Obama won and became the Democratic candidate and chose not to bring a woman on board as his VP choice, she went to the Republican side because they recognized the value of women. Or some such nonsense.

    They never tried to hide the fact that Palin was there to draw in the female vote. They were quite transparent about it! I’m surprised how short people’s memories can be about things like this!

    Unfortunately, in doing so they not only sealed McCain’s embarrassing landslide (avalanche) loss, but they created a monster!

    And for some reason that monster somehow managed to give birth to all of these other monsters. I wonder if it weren’t for Palin, how many of these women would’ve succeeded on the platform that they’re using? Such an extreme. The idea of someone being elected just to take rights away from me, especially rights so important as my reproductive rights (whether I use those rights is my business, but they should be there regardless), is quite frightening. To the point that it’s chilling.

    • Thank you, V. 🙂

      It would be really interesting for someone to poll the conservative men who are voting for these women. I’d really like to know if they consider their gender a pro, a con, or irrelevant. We can hope they are evaluating these women on the strength of their platforms and abilities.

      Alas, we know there are conservative men who think women like Palin are damn sexy. I fear that is driving their support far more than it should. (Oh, but I must just be jealous. Oops.)

      One could theorize that people are only ‘allowing’ them to run or gain power because they happen to further the anti-woman agenda, which is akin to only voting for a black person you know thinks black people don’t deserve equal treatment and will actively work to end it. But this is only conjecture until someone does the polling.

  2. You are not going to like my answer. Abortion does not make a woman or girl unraped. It does not suction the sperm from her vagina, it kills an innocent baby. You are punishing the baby for the sin of the father. Why not kill the rapist. We used to have the death penalty for rape.

    All you do is to add to the woman’s trauma by raping her again. An abortion is truly an invasion of a woman’s body with her legs strapped in stirrups wide apart, her uterus forced open so that they can shove the suction cannula up it and the sound of the vacuum makes, slurping sounds as it rips apart the baby and gobbles it down. That screaming slurping sound is indelibly imprinted on the woman which she remembers over and over again.

    The correct answer is that no woman should be forced to care for a baby concieved in rape or incest. The right answer is to have the baby and give it up for adoption. Women have gotten way too self centered and way to willing to kill innocent babies and demanding that right. I tell you what, if you believe in abortion, take an unwanted puppy and kill it by ripping it apart limb from limb without any anesthetic and then tell me you are still pro choice. Are not babies more valuable than pupoies?

    In this country it iis a federal crime to harm or destroy an eagle egg, (a potential eagle) with a $10,000 dollar fiine and five years in federal prison. So the bottom line is that we protect eagles and beagles but want to kill innocent humand babies.

    This is no different than Hitler killing Jews or in our country where it used to be legal to kill blacks and where in foreign countries it is legal ot kill female family members for honor.

    Feminists talk about equal rights but they don’t want equal rights they want absolute dominance. If they want to kill the baby, the father has NO RIGHTS. Even if the father is willing to take the baby and raise it, he has no rights. If he impregnantes a woman the law forces him to pay child support but will not allow him to raise a baby that a woman is bent on killing.

    I am not anti woman, I am anti feminist because they have such twisted values. 50% of all the babies you kill are little girls what is pro woman about that?

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

    • Nobody has ever claimed that abortion “undoes” a rape. Likewise, however, nobody is forcing any woman to have an abortion. She makes this decision for herself, because it is the right decision for her sanity. Rape is about taking away control from a woman, and regardless of that it is severely traumatic. Many women choose to have the children, keep them and raise them. Others choose to have them and give them up for adoption. And others have abortions. These decisions are made based on what the woman feels her preservation of her sanity and healing dictates that she do. These decisions are not made on a whim, nobody uses abortion as birth control, and if any women do those women need to seek some type of psychiatric help because there is something wrong, a disconnect somewhere, that needs to be addressed. However, those women would be few and far between. One cannot punish all women, just because some women might choose to abuse the system.

      Puppies are already alive, so comparing the murder and mutilation of a puppy, with or without drugs, has nothing to do with abortion. Fetuses are not human beings, yet. Fetuses are not able to feel. Fetuses are not able to think, which means they cannot feel sad or afraid or pain. This has been proven by science. I am not in favor of late term abortions as a rule, except in the case of danger to the mother’s life. And, for the most part, that is the only time late-term abortions are legally done.

      Likewise, eagle eggs are protected because eagles are endangered. Humans are in a state of overpopulation at the moment. And, as F pointed out to me, you do not harm the eagle by making it illegal for the egg to be destroyed. The same cannot be said by forcing a woman to carry a baby to term against her will. The only reason that men are not consulted in this is because there is no reason that a man should have the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. A woman doesn’t make the decision to get an abortion just because she wants to rebel against traditional society, or to stick it to the father of her baby. If any women out there do it for that purpose, they need psychiatric help, because there is a disconnect there that requires professional help.

      I know of two women who have been in situations on both sides here. The mother of my best friend had an abortion at one point in her life. She was on birth control when she got pregnant and did not realize that she was pregnant. When she found out about it, she’d still been on birth control ever since conception of the fetus, she had not abstained from alcohol, and she had smoked pot (this was the 70s). The doctor informed her that the likelihood of the baby living very long after birth was extremely slim, and if by some amazing feat of nature it did survive, it would have a huge likelihood of having a slew of developmental and physical problems. My friend’s mother decided to get an abortion. This is not a decision she made lightly, this is not a decision that she does not look back on very often. On the contrary, she thinks about it often. But, she is also very pro-choice and doesn’t think that the right to abortion should be taken away from anyone. She also tells me that if she had the decision itself to do over again, she would choose the same decision. She felt it was best in that situation.

      This woman also had a friend when she was a child. At 12 years old, this friend got pregnant. Abortion was illegal at that time, and she was a minor so the decision of what to do fell on her parents. Her parents forced her to carry the baby to term and give it up for adoption. Because of her age, she has been disfigured because of this decision made by her parents and the law for her. She was too young, too small, and her bones were not finished growing. Her rib cage juts out widely. Her ribs were still growing, and she was still young, so they were still pliant. To make room for the growing baby, the ribcage was able to expand and that is exactly what it did. She has this difigurement today, as well, though it’s been YEARS. Not a day goes by in which she does not wonder about the baby she was forced to have and then give up. She wonders if it is alright, whether it was well-cared for, what it is doing today, and if it is even still alive. Why do I call it an “it” and not a he or a she? Well, because she wasn’t allowed to even know the sex of her child before it was taken away from her.

      What is the right decision? The right decision is that there is no right decision. This is why it is left up to the mother. It is up to her, because only she understands what is best for herself. Only she knows what will and what won’t cause her to lose what is left of her sanity, what is left of her life. Only she knows what she must do to begin the healing process. That is why it is left up to women to decide whether or not they have abortions. Nobody is being forced, and if they are whoever is forcing them should be immediately arrested and locked up and whoever holds the key should throw it away. Nobody that I know of condones forced abortions. You are right that these decisions stay with the women forever, but they made the decision themselves because they felt at the time it was the right decision to make for them, given them as an individual and their situation at the time.

      Rapists should certainly have much more severe consequences in the law, but I do not condone the death penalty (personally) in any way, so I would not condone it here, either. But, the current consequences for rape are little more than jokes they are so slight. I can agree that we should overhaul the punishment for rape. Most definitely.

      However, criminalizing abortion is not going to stop abortion from happening. Women will do dangerous home abortions, instead. They will go to doctors who either do not have the skill or do not have the equipment to adequately perform abortions, and more women will die during abortions than do now. For those women who have the means to do so, they will leave the country and go to where it IS legal and have an abortion. Criminalizing abortion will do nothing more than create more problems, rather than solving any. Abortion was illegal here in the US before, and it didn’t work.

      The only thing we can do is work to reduce the amount of unplanned pregnancies. If we do that, we will reduce the amount of abortions. And this definitely possible. We need to de-stigmatize rape and incest for the victims of these crimes. We need to make more comprehensive programs for women who do find themselves in situations with unplanned pregnancies, and these programs need to have adequate advertising eveywhere. We need to make acquiring birth control easier (either lowering or doing away with age restrictions, some 15 year olds cannot acquire condoms where they live. Instead of not having sex, they just have unsafe sex, thus resulting in more unplanned pregnancies, and thus resulting in more abortions). And, above all, we need to have more comprehensive sex education in schools, to educate people on sex and birth control. Knowledge is power, and if everyone has the knowledge and access they need, there will be less unwanted pregnancies, and there will be less abortion.

      There is no way to stop abortion completely, no matter what you do. You can only reduce the demand for it be reducing the cause of it. A large part of that is accidental, unplanned pregnancies. Reduce those, and the rate of abortions will reduce, as well.

    • V has given an excellent reply, and I agree with some 99% of what she said. Here are my additional comments.

      You’re right, nothing can undo a rape once it has occurred. Nothing can undo the considerable trauma of a near-rape, either. But there are many things that can continue to damage a woman (or man!) after that rape. One of these is to carry the child of that rape to term (imagine feeling that a piece of your attacker has taken root deep inside you and is feeding off you like a parasite while you try to recover; maybe women feel this way, at least for a while) or to raise such a child, a life-long reminder of what has happened to them. They may feel that the attacker never really leaves them, because his genetic material is always with them. This can lead to resentment in the mother, which can twist in such a way that she begins to take it out on the child, either indirectly or deliberately. No child should have to live in a home where they are not 100% loved and wanted.

      Abortion is NOT for everyone, and no one is insisting that it is. Where pro-life is restrictive, pro-choice is about just that: Choice. Many pro-choicers consider abortion is to abhorrent, and would never, ever even consider one for themselves or want it for their loved ones, but they believe we should all have the option open to us. It is the same principle behind “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

      The sort of abortion you describe sounds like one conducted during the second or third trimester. These abortions are prohibited or illegal in nearly all settings, and where it is not, doctors and clinics are loathe to perform them without good cause. We can’t be entirely certain, yet, at what point pain and awareness become possible for a fetus, so in the meantime we use the guide of viability, or when the child is capable of surviving outside the womb.

      A fetus prior to twelve weeks is a growing collection of cells that looks human but could never survive on its own. (Science could perhaps craft a completely artificial womb, but that is an extreme form of life support. There is still a real difference between a fetus that is vulnerable to absolutely everything and an infant born prematurely that has a chance of surviving even without medical intervention.) The brain is not yet developed enough to enable thought. Any information from the growing nervous and sensory systems cannot yet be interpreted. First trimester abortions do not cause mental or emotional trauma to the fetus–they can’t. It is a woman’s responsibility to be aware of the changes in her body and seek medical care as soon as she suspects she may be pregnant so that she has plenty of time to reach a safe and legal decision.

      It always amazes me that pro-lifers are, on the whole, so concerned with the fact of life itself–life at any cost–that they never consider the quality of that life. A child born into poverty, disease or to a mother who is either traumatized or simply unwilling, is a child doomed to a life of difficulty and pain. Depending on the disease (fetal alcohol syndrome, HIV, hepatitis, or any number of genetic conditions) it could be a very short life.

      If I love children, if I love people, why on Earth would I bear a child I cannot possibly provide for financially, medically or emotionally? As an unmarried woman in my twenties, I face the risk of conceiving a child I cannot financially support. (In a previous post (https://subterfusex.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/unemployed-just-have-a-baby/) I quoted first year expenses soaring in the thousands, easily topping $10,000 for birthing alone.) This would send me into an absolute tailspin. I would be in debt for the next ten years, and I have a college education to help me pay it off! I would have to lean heavily on my parents, who are too near retirement to take on such a burden. How could I possibly provide a reasonable lifestyle, let alone the sort I want to give my future children?

      There is a history of cystic fibrosis in my family, hidden until one unlucky couple met their genetic match. If I and my partner share the genes that initiate this disease, our children will each have a one in four chance of having this debilitating condition. I decided years ago that, if the genetic testing proves it true, I will not do this. It isn’t fair for me to allow my selfish desire for hcildren to jeapardize the health and safety of those children. I will adopt instead.

      (Why is it that there aren’t more high-profile adoption drives? One always hears cries to put children up for adoption, but so little encouraging people to take those children in.)
      Not that adoption is the cure-all people want to present it as. Children given up for adoption face mental and emotional difficulties that color their entire lives, often directly impacting their sense of self. Why did my parents give me away? Didn’t they want me? Coud anyone really want me? Can these new parents every really love me in the same way? Not all children put up for adoption are adopted. Far too many aren’t selected during the ‘cute baby’ stage–and everyone wants a baby, right? Life Unexpected is a show on the CW about just such a child. She was born with a heart condition that required multiple surgeries to correct. No one wanted to bear the burden and risk so she remained in the state’s care. When she was at last well enough to be adopted she had passed the adorable baby stage. She remained in the system, bouncing between foster homes, until the age of 16 when the show picks up. She and the other kids from the foster system have been ill-cared for, feel unloved, and are unable to trust either the government or other adults in their lives. Her story is not an uncommon one, but no one shares this with a mother-to-be trying to decide what to do with an unplanned pregnancy. The foster and adoption system has huge problems, and it isn’t equipped to provide a good life to the kids who get mired in it until the age of 18.

      Consider, also, the difficulties for a child conceived through rape, especially incestuous rape. Whether kept by the family ot put up for adoption this person bears the legacy of violence and trauma. (Do they have to know? Eventually, yes, they need to know for the sake of understanding their medical background. And secrets have a way of getting out.) Imagine knowing that half of all you are comes directly from a criminal, perhaps that sadistic person is your own father/grandfather. This leads to its own set of mental and emotional issues. Throw in that the medical history of the rapist may be unknown, or the genetic complications of incestuous couplings and the progeny is born into an absolute minefield.

      As for your examples of puppies and eagles, V countered that very well. I’ll add that it’s also not like killing Jews or blacks, which is a form of xenophobic nationalism predicated on ethnicity that is perpetrated against developed human beings. A better example would be the abortion of female fetuses (which can only be determined after 18 weeks) because girls are considered less valuable than boys. This is, again, targeting a specific group of people.

      Pregnancy and unplanned pregnancies occur to everyone. Differing rates from group to group is determined more by access to education and birth control than by race (ie., an educated person of a given race will always have lower odds than a person with no sex education of the same race).

      I agree with you that it is unfair to exclude men from the decision of what to do with an unplanned pregnancy. It is cruel to fathers who want children, especially those willing to take the lead role. It allows irresponsible men to abdicate from their responsibilities without consequence. Conception requires two people, and in consensual sex both partners are responsible for taking precautions and accepting the risks. Of course, they need to have accurate and expansive information in order to make informed choices. I don’t necessarily think that they all deserve to be castigated–even the most reliable methods of birth control have a fail rate. These two people should come together to make a decision. Both sides need to make their cases. If nothing else, each is responsible for this much, to the potential child, to each other, and to themselves. A mother has the obligation to listen to the father’s side and to give it full consideration, just as he must hers.

      Ideally they will reach a solution that they can agree on as being for the best. But if not, who gets the final say? Ultimately, I think it must be the woman, as she will bear the brunt of the pregnancy (or surgery), and she is almost always the one who bears the majority of the raising and financial burden. It is her life that is most likely to be affected the most.

      I also agree that court systems that give all control to a mother, and deny fathers their rights as fathers, are sickening. There are wonderful, loving, dedicated, good men who want nothing more than to be with their children. It deny them this is horrendous. There are far too many examples of women who should NOT be parents at all keeping custody of children simply because they are women. There is some logic to the idea that very small children fare better with a mother (if only for breast feeding), but once a child reaches a certain age they should be allowed to have more say in how and where they live. And, certainly, I think it is absolutely ridiculous to keep boys from their fathers when the men are responsible and caring. Children need to know that they are loved, and that the adults in their lives have their best interests at heart. That is what makes for confident adults.

      It’s not enough to say “It’s HER body, it’s HER decision, so butt out!” It must be her decision based on mutual input from the father. Ideally, a doctor should also be involved (V has cited an awful story of an underdeveloped child having her own child). I would even advocate for legal and financial consultation, meetings with child care providers in the area, and extended family. I am always in favor of more information. But anything less than the two primary people involved sitting down and talking about the reality of their situation is utterly repugnant and morally abhorrent. It hurts the mother, the father, and the child.

      You say it’s anti-woman to abort female fetuses. I say it’s anti-woman to put that girl squarely in the path of disease, poverty, abuse, mental and emotional danger, and the predations of known rapists (too many families pretend that incestuous rape has not occurred and the perpetrators continue with the next victim). The absolute last think we should want is for more children to suffer. Real children, not potential ones.

  3. V, I give you a standing ovation!

  4. Thanks, D! You and F are making me blush. :p

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