Why Is the Right-Wing Attacking Women?

While protecting Big Oil and billionaires, right-wingers brazenly push cuts to programs – many life-saving – that largely affect women: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition programs for women and children (WIC), and prenatal care. A woman’s right to choose is under intense attack with Planned Parenthood and Title X on the chopping block, despite providing low income women with birth control, cancer screenings, and tests for STDs, including H.I.V. And then there’s Rep. Joe Pitts’ proposed bill allowing hospitals to refuse to terminate pregnancy even to save a woman’s life. All famously reported in a New York Times piece entitled “The War on Women.” Nothing’s gotten any better since.

Why attack women?

Balancing the federal budget on the backs of the middle-class and poor (where so many women reside) so that wealthy interests and campaign contributions may thrive seems like a good deal to many politicians.

But why the laser-like focus on limiting women’s reproductive rights? Not a lot of money in that. But it’s a vote getter. Still, why is this stance so appealing?

Karen McCarthy Brown, Professor of Anthropology of Religion at Drew University, suggests that limiting women’s reproductive rights creates a sense of stability and empowerment for many. In command of the bodies of women, the power of the flesh, and life, itself, it’s a big deal. Plus, those who value order and stability benefit by “understanding” that men are men and women are women, each in separate spheres, and each knowing their place. So the world becomes simpler and more manageable in black and white. It can all be a huge psychological relief to those doing the controlling and for those who feel the world is under control.

Pretty sad that some coerce others to gain this relief. Surely there’s a better way.

Relatedly, on an interpersonal plane, men who seek to feel empowered by dominating their partners sometimes destroy contraception, hoping their wives or girlfriends will feel more trapped and dependent by the need to care for children.

And then there are your political tyrants. Steven Conn, Associate Professor of History at Ohio State, tells us that in the 20th century the most despicable regimes were fixated on controlling women’s reproductive lives. Outlawing abortion and closing family planning centers were among the Nazis’ first moves. Eventually abortion became a capital offense. Stalin outlawed abortion in 1936.  Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu banned contraception in 1966. By 1986 miscarriage became a matter of criminal investigation. China still coerces women into abortion and sterilization. Interesting that Conn  observes:

The day after the evil Ceausescu had been executed, the National Salvation Front issued two decrees; it lifted the ban on the private ownership of typewriters, and it repealed the laws that policed pregnant women.

The eerily similar workings of right-wing extremists lend an ironic twist to their claim of being all about freedom through free markets. Women must be controlled, but markets must be free?

But what’s a little nonsensical hypocrisy among right-wing despots?

This post is part of a web carnival promoted by a coalition of women’s organizations to discuss the current attacks on historic gains for women and mobilize women voters in 2012. See the Twitter hashtag #HERvotes.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Are You Pro Life, Or Do You Just Want To Control Women?
“Protect Life Act” Promotes Death: Girls. Women. A Presidency
Women Should Get Rape Insurance?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 25, 2011, in feminism, gender, psychology, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It always baffles me when self-proclaimed feminists disregards all the facts, clearly demonstrating more allegiance to their political party rather than their feminist ideals.

    For example, you made no mention of how the left-wing media treats/treated Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann. Both individuals have suffered from undeserved scrutiny at the hands of fascist periodicals like the New York Times editorial section which takes aim at these women merely because they are conservative. This is a perfect example of how politics supersedes a true feminist view.

    Regarding Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights… granted, Planned Parenthood handles other facets of feminine care, but they are also responsible for 80% of the nation’s annual abortions. I completely believe in a woman’s right to choose, but using state-funded abortions as a means of contraception goes against many people’s moral compass, and rightfully so.

    The other entitlement programs you mentioned, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security etc., are not targeted against women any more than men, or, any more of the left than the right. Entitlement reform must happen in order for these programs to survive. If you think raising the age to qualify for Medicare and Social Security focus exclusively on women and their rights, than perhaps you should take another look at who is being affected and why they are being affected. Without make some changes to the current structure of these entitlements, they will no longer exist in 15-20 years because they will become insolvent. Since both parties agree that some type of reform is absolutely necessary, this can hardly be placed upon the right wing, as you suggested.

    • The left wing critiques Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman because they’re on the right, not because they’re women. And they’re not feminists. They believe in limiting women’s rights (right to abortion being a major concern and Bachman’s against gay marriage – a feminist issue) even as they take advantage of the opportunities feminists have made for them.

      Re: using state-funded abortions as a means of contraception goes against many people’s moral compass.

      First, abortion is rarely used as a means of contraception. Most abortion comes because contraception failed.

      Regardless, why should the moral compass of a healthcare provider trump the moral compass of a woman? Whose health and life can be put at risk when abortion is denied. At the least, someone should be available who is willing to provide abortions, or medical care that could end in the death of a fetus. See this piece: Doctors Let Woman Die to Protect Fetus

      An excerpt: “A Polish woman named Edyta died because doctors refused to provide medical care. Each doctor she approached worried that treating her colon condition could lead to miscarriage or abortion. Doctors (in her country) can refuse medical care on moral grounds. Apparently, letting a person die is not a part of their moral compass.”

      By the way, women who can’t get safe legal abortions often die trying to self-abort, or going to underground — and untrained — abortion providers.

      Thank heavens Planned Parenthood performs safe, legal abortions. Here’s an excerpt from another of my pieces: “Protect Life Act” Promotes Death: Girls. Women. A Presidency. https://broadblogs.com/2011/02/11/%e2%80%9cprotect-life-act%e2%80%9d-promotes-death-girls-women-a-presidency/

      A global study found that even when abortion was officially illegal, there was little affect on abortion rates. Instead, desperate women die when untrained providers lack knowledge and skill, or when women try to abort, themselves. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=abortion%20illegal%20decrease%20abortion&st=cse

      Back before Roe v. Wade, a young Air Force doctor named Robert Duemler walked into an emergency room where blood was splattered all over the walls, the floor, the gurney, the towels, and the emergency crew. Beneath them a woman lay bleeding from a sharp object that had been pushed up her vagina. She died, leaving behind a bewildered husband and five impoverished children. http://www.amazon.com/Articles-faith-frontline-history-abortion/dp/product-description/B0006DIJJ0

      Scenes like these led many medical professionals to fight for a woman’s right to choose.

      Re: “The other entitlement programs you mentioned, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security etc., are not targeted against women any more than men, or, any more of the left than the right.”

      I never said they were targeted toward women. I only said women make up more of the beneficiaries, leaving them more often the victims of cuts. Why target programs that serve the middle-class and poor rather than those that benefit the wealthy, like corporate welfare for oil and the Bush tax cuts (which even libertarian Alan Greenspan is now against)?

    • Adding to this blog author’s response to your comment:

      Planned Parenthood —
      While this non-profit organization just may be responsible for safely performing 80% of all abortions nationwide, do bear in mind that this particular procedure only accounts for approximately 3% of all services provided by Planned Parenthood annually: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/apr/08/jon-kyl/jon-kyl-says-abortion-services-are-well-over-90-pe/

      “But then how are 80% of our nation’s abortions performed by PP alone?” you might ask. By law, 46 states allow some health care providers to refuse to provide abortion services based on religious and moral objections, even when NOT terminating the pregnancy may be detrimental to the mother’s health. https://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_RPHS.pdf

      When turned away, where else will these women go to get the medical attention they desperately need?

      Luckily, we have the ACA (ObamaCare) which has lifted the ridiculously expensive co-pay for contraceptives and in turn is magically decreasing the national rate of abortion: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/us/study-finds-free-contraceptives-cut-abortion-rate.html?ref=contraception

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