Not too long ago, a narrative appeared out of nowhere that turned 2012 back into the days of the women’s suffrage movement. Women began protesting the newly-discovered “War on Women” that, apparently, was being waged by the Republican Party and all its supporters. This time, it wasn’t about the right to vote or drive. It was about birth control. The narrative itself said that Republicans sought to take away access to contraception and enforce an ultra-religious agenda upon them. Next trickled in the topic of abortion. Roe v. Wade has maintained the separation of government from the choice of a woman to do with her body what she wishes. The new fear is that this separation would be removed. The last portion is equal pay for women, as so many believe they are intentionally being paid less than their male counterparts. The problem with this “war” is that it doesn’t exist. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
So how did the narrative begin? I don’t believe anyone would be surprised to learn that it began with one single shilling media member in the form of a debate moderator – George Stephanopoulos. During the Republican primary presidential debate in January, Stephanopoulos posed this random question to Mitt Romney:
“Do you believe states have the right to ban contraception or is that trumped by a Constitutional right to privacy?”
Romney, obviously thrown by the off-the-wall nature of the question, especially considering there was no present existence of anything of the sort, responded.
“Uh, George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising. States have a right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so and if I were a governor of a state or a legislator of a state, I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you’re asking…given the fact that there’s no state that wants to do so and I don’t know of any candidate that wants to do so…you’re asking, could it Constitutionally be done?”
Stephanopoulos pressed further.
“I’m asking you, do you believe that states have that right or not?”
Agitated and confused, Romney again responded along the same lines.
“George, I don’t know whether a state has the right to ban contraception, no state wants to! I mean the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no state wants to do and asking me whether they can do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think.”
With this came a roar of laughter from the audience. George wasn’t laughing. He continued to push. There were then several more back-and-forths between Romney and Stephanopoulos, making it blatantly obvious that there was an agenda behind the question. Romney finished by making the point that he believed those decisions should be left to individual states using the amendment process – leaving it in the hands of each state’s voters. He also voiced his support for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. (Watch to see the full clip here: youtube.com/watch?v=jKWij_v4Twk). Not surprisingly, George Stephanopoulos was the communications director for Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992 and was Senior Policy Advisor in the Clinton White House. His question set the narrative. This question was intentionally planted.
So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the false premise behind the “War on Women”. Firstly, contraception. With the Republican’s enthusiastic plans for a Romney presidency, the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare is on the agenda from day one. In the law itself, there is a regulation that requires all insurance plans to cover it. The narrative began to evolve with these plans, with women saying that by repealing Obamacare, they would no longer have access to birth control, which they feel should be fully paid for through tax-payer dollars. This contrived notion is beyond ludicrous. Nothing would change with the repeal of the law, as prescription insurance would still be available, as always, to cover the majority of those costs. However, the main point is this, making any other argument obsolete: women’s birth control is available for under $10 per month. As 30-year-old career student Sandra Fluke testified that costs could be $3000 over three years, three miles down the road from her was a Target selling birth control pills for $9 – without insurance. The Obamacare regulation even forces religious institutions to cover contraception, even if it’s against their faith. There are now dozens of lawsuits against the federal government by these organizations. Sounds much more like a War on Religion instead.
Next is the subject of abortion. Here is where there is a difference between the Democrats and Republicans regarding belief systems. On the Democratic platform, they believe that abortion should be available in any form, at any time, no strings attached. Oh, and also be funded by tax-payer money. In Obamacare, there is a mandatory $1 abortion surcharge for every single policyholder. How many of you actually knew that? Most Republicans, on the other hand, believe abortion should be limited to the cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother. Both Democrats and Republicans individually differ on their own personal beliefs, but the parties themselves set basic guidelines. There is nothing new here. This has continued to be the platform and policy structure of the party for years. In 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law a ban on partial birth abortion. I won’t go into the nauseating description of what that involves, but if you are unaware of what occurs during a partial birth abortion, I strongly urge you to look it up. The Democratic platform supports it. Could you?
The last point in the mythical “war” is fair pay for women. Again, this is where it feels like we are back in the suffrage era. President Obama passed the “Lilly Ledbetter Act” which pushes for equal pay. It was a lovely attempt to gain votes, but equal-pay laws have been on the books for decades. Facts are facts, and the real truth about equal pay for women is being suppressed by those who gain power through individual belief on falsities. First of all, the U.S. Labor Department says that the current cap between male and female workers is five cents on every dollar. But the truth lies in the differences between the life span of a man and a woman, which clearly removes any auspices of discrimination. In another Labor Department report, where a full-time job is defined as 35 hours per week and above, where 55% of the workers who work above that 35 hour minimum are men. The pay differentiation doesn’t take into account the hours above 35 that are worked. In other words, 10% more men work above this defined time than women, causing the overall differential in pay. Due to childbirth, men tend to work the lion’s share of the hours in the child-rearing age bracket, when women either choose to remain at home full-time or only work part-time. Another truth is that women without children in their 20s are making more on average than men. Combine these facts and you can see why today, even with those variables, there is very little daylight between the genders. Yes, there are specific incidences in companies where the owner chooses to pay workers a different pay based on gender, but it is pure incompetence to jump to conclusions without first looking at the background information in each case. (More info here: online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303592404577361883019414296.html)
So we have President Obama running on a false narrative, bringing onboard famous female actresses to peddle the “war” to anyone who will listen. Obama may try and come off like a staunch supporter of women, but all it takes is a look at his own personal handlings of those working for him. At the White House, according to their 2011 annual report, female employees earned an average salary of $60,000 compared to $71,000 for males. Even during his 2008 campaign, he paid his female staff less than his male staff. Hypocrisy at its finest.
How have American women done overall during the Obama presidency? Since January 2009, 451,000 women have lost their jobs, bringing the current national total to over 5,000,000 unemployed women in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Remember, this does not even include the number of women who have given up looking for work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 25,700,000 women live in poverty, which is the highest it has ever been. Women on food stamps are also at an all-time high. The Obama Administration has not been good for women. This is why the female vote is now evenly split between President Obama and Mitt Romney this fall in all major polls. There are the 50% who see the reality of the last four years and see the “War on Women” as nothing more than extreme rhetoric. The other 50% have submersed themselves into this mantra and have become single-issue voters. Their votes will be based on the emotions evoked by the talk of returning to the early 1900s and keeping everything they deserve from them. We all know this is untrue.
Finally, let’s talk about a real War on Women.
• Malala Yousafzai, a fourteen-year-old Pakistani girl, was shot in the head at point-blank range on her way home from school last week after being sought-out by members of the Taliban. Her crime? Being a staunch advocate for the right of girls to get an education. She won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts and is currently recovering in a UK hospital.
• Mumtaz, a teenager from Afghanistan, was attacked with acid, permanently disfiguring her. Her crime? Turning down a marriage proposal. Four gunmen entered her family’s home, not only throwing acid on Mumtaz, but her sisters and mother as well. She now speaks out for women’s rights.
• In Egypt, a teacher forcefully cut the hair of two girls in class for not wearing a head veil.
• Also in Afghanistan, a 12-year old girl and 15-year-old boy were killed in an acid attack because they were friends of the opposite sex. Acid attacks are commonly used on girls as they walk to school in Middle Eastern nations opposed to women receiving an education.
These are real examples of what a War on Women really looks like. Does this look like America?
It’s time for the myth to die.