Why Is There A War On Women?

Conservatives insist there is no war on women. They must be willfully ignorant to miss the signs.

In recent years the extreme right has voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, they have refused to protect all women in the U.S. from domestic violence, they have pushed to block cancer screenings and HIV testing for poor women, they have voted against contraception and abortion that could save women’s lives. Five states now require women seeking abortions to endure ultrasounds, which might require intrusive, vaginal probes. Some have made light of rape, narrowing the definition to “forcible” rape (what’s nonforcible rape?) or, as Amanda Marcotte at RH Reality Check points out:

Showing their true colors has been a theme of anti-choicers this campaign season, from Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment to Huckabee’s extolling the virtues of rape as a baby delivery system to Paul Ryan minimizing rape by calling it a “method of conception”… They don’t really think rape is a big deal—it’s not like raping uterus vessels is the same as violating people, right?

But what’s behind the war? Here’s one idea: sexist men fear that independent women won’t need them.

Marcotte points out that attempts to control women swell whenever women become more independent. She may have a point. We’ve seen increasing attempts to use government to control women as we become more independent. And the same thing occurs in relationships when some men destroy contraception, hoping their wives or girlfriends will get pregnant and become more dependent.

And the same men who work to limit women’s control over their bodies say things like this, from Rep. Allen West of Florida:

And all of these women that have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness. Let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient.

Or Rush Limbaugh:

The average size of a penis is roughly 10 percent smaller than it was 50 years ago. And the researchers say air pollution is why. Air pollution, global warming, has been shown to negatively impact penis size, say Italian researchers.

I don’t buy this. I think it’s feminism.

Well then, men had better get their control over women back, and soon!

Marcotte sums it up:

Hostility to abortion rights and contraception access is about gender anxiety. It’s about this strange fear that unless women are forced into a subservient, dependent position to men, women will not want anything to do with men. Anti-choicers are reacting to a paranoid belief that if women are totally free to choose our own paths, we won’t choose to have men on our journeys. It’s yet further proof that misogyny has an element of man-hating to it, because the misogynist believes that men are not capable of being true friends and partners to women.

Looks like feminists have a higher opinion of men than these sexist men do, themselves.

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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 September 28, 2012, in feminism, gender, politics/class inequality, psychology, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Louisa Engels

    What is it about women that so threatens men? Since the beginning of time men have been trying to keep women down. It was one thing for men to try to prevent women from voting, which is atrocious enough, but, quite another for them to want to legislate women’s bodily functions. At the risk of sounding repetitious, I think that “The War on Women” is rooted in the same feelings of inferiority and powerlessness as that of the man who thinks that women dress to tease him. Since it is not all men who feel and behave this way, it must have something to do with how certain men are raised and the feelings they develop about themselves growing up. “The War on Women” speaks to me of a sense of emotional impotence on the part of the men who are leading the charge. Maybe they’re afraid that if they stop trying to control us, we won’t need them anymore.

  2. Peter Pagrefor

    “Social psychologist Dr Jean Twenge states that according to her research, the sky rocketing rate of narcissim in American culture occurred mainly among the women and most of the increase was since 2000. See the scientific proof of this fact in this news article: Researchers find rise in Narcissism among women in America. “

    • Couldn’t find the exact report that you cite but the ones I did find didn’t say what you say.

      A report on the study from the American Psychological Association says this: “women and international students tend to score lower on the NPI.” http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/narcissism.aspx

      A Huffington Report of the study says this:

      “Guess who were the most self-absorbed celebrities? Female reality-TV stars!”

      That’s not all women.

      You had also sent a link to support your contention that women are more misogynistic than men. The comment wasn’t well thought out so I didn’t post it, and it wasn’t a study, anyway.

      I will say that both men and women learn to be misogynistic. For instance see this post I wrote:

      Frats Invite Sluts, Bitches; Women Accept Degradation. Why?

  3. Just because women seek independence, opportunities and more control over their lives, it does not mean that men can’t still be by their side. The argument at the end was disturbing to read and raises many concerns. So if some men think that women hate them, they in turn want to prove that they can hate women more. It seems to be a paranoid and delusional way of thinking. The previous quote by Rush Limbaugh exemplifies my point. I’m not surprised that he has many fans as people’s attention today is regularly drawn to blatantly offensive expressions of ideas. Our mainstream media and political world are devoid of intelligent conversation. In addition, people broadcast their opinions in complete disregard of the humanity of others.

  4. I really wish we could find a way for men to experience these types of injustices against women so that they could see how absolutely ridiculous their beliefs for “what’s best” for women really are!!!

    And rather than putting all this energy and focus onto what women CHOOSE to do with their bodies, where is that passion when women’s bodies are being violated against their will? And on top of it, the woman is supposed to love and care for a product of that appalling incident. Also, where is the concern for the child that is being raised by someone who didn’t want them or who sees nothing but her rapist when she looks at her child’s face? And how are they supposed to explain to their child that they have no father because they are a product of rape?

    Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot that these politicians don’t have to see or care about that, as long as they feel better that they signed off on something that “saves lives,” and they have the approval of their naive and moronic supporters. Who cares what affect it has on the woman’s mind or her body, that’s just extraneous, right? Makes me sick.

  5. ”sexist men fear that independent women won’t need them”

    WTF! we women are independent and work hard to get where we are and if men like that don’t like it then too bad! and “voting against women getting an abortion” should be that person’s buissness if they go through with it or not and should not be anybody else’s! some men just dont understand it from a womens perspective, maybe they should put aside there differences and actually listen and understand!

    • “women getting an abortion” should be that person’s buissness if they go through with it or not ”

      Why shouldn’t it also be the business of the person being aborted? What about their right over their own body?

      • A fertilized egg isn’t a person. Neither is an embryo or a fetus.

        Why should a non-person take precedence over a real person?

        And as I mentioned, “pro-life” doesn’t actually care about life, or they’d care about life once a baby was born.

  6. Norrisha Rivers

    I do not see how anyone feels it is right to vote against women getting abortions. What happens in the privacy of a women is no one else’s business. Usually people have reasons for abortion in a lot of cases money is a big issue. If you cant afford a baby then what? is everyone that had a say over your body going to take care of it? My main issue is with men. I don’t feel it is right for any man to say no to abortions. Its true that women can walk away from the child but a man can leave at any given moment, and all through out the pregnancy. Men don’t know or understand what it is to have a baby so why do they feel its right to have any control over a women body.

    • “What happens in the privacy of a women is no one else’s business.”

      What about what happens in the privacy of that little woman growing inside your belly? Who is going to defend its privacy?

      “If you cant afford a baby then what?”

      That’s also an argument to be allowed to kill a newborn baby. That used to be allowed at one time. Still waiting for someone to defend that though.

      • So-called “pro-life” leaders don’t care about life, they only care about controlling women’s bodies. They’re pro-birth:

        They’re typically against: food stamps that would keep kids alive, welfare that would keep kids alive, prenatal care for the poor — which is more likely to lead to live births, for instance.

        Laws against abortion don’t stop it. If a woman wants an abortion, she’ll do it herself or go to an illegal provider. So the laws only lead to more deaths of women, not life.

        Typically, the more laws you have against abortion, the more abortion you get. I’ll write more later. For now, see this: http://jezebel.com/5877615/want-women-to-have-more-abortions-make-it-illegal?tag=roe-v-world

  7. Both sexes — and all genders — suffer when misogyny is in play. The derogatory viewpoint and behavior towards women, the transgendered, and those who do not identify as a “privileged straight white male” not only oppresses those targeted, but also suppresses opposition by those who strive to enact positive change on this front. Sometimes men who champion feminist ideals are labeled as “weak” or are emasculated by their peers (particularly among conservatives) and reduced to experience a fraction of the intollerance that our sex and/or gender often suffer, which they often find unbearable and in turn their voices are silenced.

    When faced with the opportuntity and privilege one’s own identity affords, few will sacrifice this comfort to champion for the underprivileged and we all lose.

  8. I have a hard time envisioning a world where a majority of women wish to be the only gender on the planet. Not saying it couldn’t happen.

    I thought sexist bigotry came from notions that women were incapable of making tough rational decisions, hence, the patriarchy tries to make certain of these decisions for them.

    • Different strains of patriarchy probably have different sources. Some patriarchal men seem to feel the way you describe. Those who actually make war on women may have different motives. And there are different ideas as to what lies behind it.

  9. So according to this blog, media, people, etc there’s a war on women… But what are we fighting for?? Until people realize the problem there is no chance that it can be solved. We as women have the power to stop people from treating us like dirt and letting the government take over our bodies. Men are not the only problem. Until we stop taking each other for granted we’re not going to get anywhere. “No can make you feel inferior without your consent”- Eleanor Roosevelt. I’m done getting mad at people for their ignorant remarks. Let’s do something about it. Let’s work together to figure out a solution.

  10. I swear just seeing Rush Limbaugh makes my blood boil. That man is insane. I really have no clue why anyone with half a brain would give him the time of day.

    I am not sure if you ever read the book The Immortal Life of Heneryetta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot? That book is about HeLa cells that were taken from the cervix of an African American woman in the 1940s without her pemission. She died soon after and the doctor that took them didn’t make money from it but everyone else has. You see her cells were the first to mulitiply and not die. Her family has remained in poverty…the book delves into the science and story of her, her family, and her cells. It also talks about what people had done to them in the name of the better good.

    I say all this because, it is a sad state that women are STILL fighting the battle for our bodies.


  11. You nailed it, Georgia. Where is this supposed vitriol?

  12. I’m curious…. if the woman sabotages the contraceptive… or… if the women lies and uses contraceptive when she says she isn’t…. are you going to rant and rave with equal vitriol about these scenarios?

    • First, men can take responsibility and use contraception, themselves. If their partners destroy the men’s contraception, that would be a huge deal. I just haven’t heard of it happening.

      Second, my larger point is about sexist men using gov to control women’s bodies. I haven’t heard of women using government to control men’s bodies.

      • Georgia, your second point is very disturbing and makes me mad as hell! Sexist men using (hiding behind) government to control women’s bodies is inhumane. Women should have the right to be totally free to make their own choices about their own bodies. Preventing unwanted pregnancy is a basic human right. Women should have the freedom to choose their own path, even if that path does not include men! The idea that women would even want to control a mans body is comical.

  1. Pingback: Why Is There A War On Women? « Virgin Mistress

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