Originally published at Fem2pt0.
The GOP is trying to pull off a magic trick. They are feverishly working to convince you they support women’s rights.
Yesterday at a “Women for Mitt” rally, Ann Romney told women to “challenged women to ‘wake up’,” that Mitt Romney will be there for them, that he’s “attuned to their struggles.” In her warm and charismatic RNC speech last week, she professed her love of women. Veering off script, Ann Romney said she can “hear your voices.” Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) recently said Republicans “don’t have a problem with women.”
Sure, Ann Romney and Kay Bailey Hutchison can extol the GOP’s virtues all they want. But their effluent praise can’t obfuscate the truth: the GOP’s misogyny contradicts them both.
When Ann Romney took the stage at the RNC, the thrust of her speech was love. Love, love, and yes, more love. While she certainly tried to “humanize” her husband — by sharing their courtship at a high school dance and young marriage as they scrimped and saved, using an ironing board as a dining room table — she also sought to close the gender gap and entice women voters.
Bolstering this message, she addressed mothers:
“You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you.”
But does Mitt Romney or the GOP as a party truly care about women?
They certainly care about attracting female voters. The GOP wanted Ann Romney to entice women and speak directly to them. But Irin Carmon points out “the ironies of Ann Romney’s appeal to women”:
“An election cycle in which her husband has declared birth control coverage to be a threat to religious liberty and wants to almost entirely ban abortion is an inconvenient time for her to talk about “that couple who would like to have another child, but wonder how will they afford it.” A convention for a party that opposes any legislation around equal pay for women is an inopportune moment to discuss the ‘working moms who love their jobs but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids, but that’s just out of the question with this economy.’
“A campaign that has stubbornly declared that there is no such thing as women’s issues, that women care only about jobs and gas prices, is forced to make an appeal relying both on gender essentialism and the explicit admission that women face structural challenges.”
RNC attendees loved Ann Romney’s speech, rapturously cheering with thunderous applause, especially when she mentioned her 5 sons and 18 grandchildren and that she and Mitt shared a “real marriage” as opposed to a “storybook” one. Of course she had to discuss her domesticity rather than mention her own experience in politics running for elected office. Yes, first ladies have impacted their husbands’ presidential administrations. But as Shelby Knox astutely points out, spouse speeches at their core are “inherently sexist” as they attempt to assure us that the candidates will “be good on women’s issues.”
These speeches aren’t sexist simply because the wives spout them. It’s because they reinforce stereotypical gender roles and heteronormativity. Regardless, they often impact voters’ decisions and remain a “key element in the candidate’s rise to power.”
Women are diverse, not some monolithic homogeneous force. But if Romney truly cared about women and their rights — or LGBTQI rights or immigrant rights or the rights of those impoverished — he never would have chosen anti-choice Paul Ryan as his running mate.
Vanessa Valenti explained why Ryan is “bad news for women (and everyone else).” He voted against equal pay and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (who the hell is actually against equal pay??). A ridiculously anti-choice politician, he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, has voted for the ill-named Protect Life Act and he’s voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood. He opposes the Affordable Care Act (oh you know that pesky universal healthcare) and its birth control coverage. Ryan has voted against LGBTQI couples adopting, marriage equality and repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). Ryan also has a terrible record on Medicare and immigrant justice. And Ryan recently referred to rape as simply one “method of conception.”
But Ryan isn’t the only one toxic for women and reproductive justice. So is Romney himself.
Like his running mate, Romney is anti-abortion and believes the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade (frightening) and leave abortion decisions up to each state (yeah, cause some states have such a great track record of supporting reproductive justice). He supports anti-choice personhood amendments which would establish life beginning at conception. Despite telling Fox News that “of course people should have a right to use contraceptives,” he endorsed the anti-contraception Blunt-Rubio Amendment. He would eliminate Title X family planning funding and has vowed to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood.”
Romney wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He would reduce Social Security benefits (more women are recipients than men) and “require low-income mothers to work but deny them child care assistance.” While he claims to support pay equity and says he won’t change the current law under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, he hasn’t declared support for the Paycheck Fairness Act. In addition to being accused of homophobia, Romney also supports the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and doesn’t support adoption for same-sex couples.
Hmmm, Romney doesn’t sound so different than his running mate, does he?
As a Massachusetts resident, I remember Mitt Romney’s tenure as governor. I also remember how he lied. In a meeting with Melissa Kogut, Former Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, he said he was a pro-choice candidate, an ally in the Republican Party. And then he turned around and vetoed emergency contraception legislation for rape survivors. Thankfully, the MA legislature overturned his veto. Romney the so-called “moderate” also opposed comprehensive sex education and LGBTQI rights.
Newsflash, Mitt Romney is no moderate.
Romney and many other anti-choice Republican legislators have scoffed at the War on Women. Romney even went so far as to declare the GOP as a “pro-woman” party. Sure, the RNC has a women’s coalition as does Romney (“Women for Mitt”). And yes, there are definitely pro-choice Republicans such as Republicans for Planned Parenthood and the PAC Republican Majority for Choice.
But Mitt Romney — with his anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQI, anti-rape survivors, anti-women’s rights stance — simply isn’t one of them. The Romney/Ryan ticket is a threat to reproductive justice. But as we’ve witnessed for 2 years now, it’s not just Romney and Ryan.
An overwhelming number of GOP legislators as well as the GOP’s ultra-conservative platform continually demonstrate a blatant disregard and lack of respect for women and reproductive justice.
Todd Akin uttered his hateful, disgusting, idiotic (I could go on and on) comment about “legitimate rape.” Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA), the GOP Platform Chair, told George Stephanopoulos that rape and rape exception in abortion was merely a “detail.” Mike Huckabee “extoll[ed] the virtues of rape as a baby delivery system.” We’ve witnessed heinous anti-abortion legislation like personhood bills, Michigan’s anti-abortion superbill, the passage of transvaginal ultrasound laws in Virginia and Texas, and defunding of Planned Parenthood in Arizona and Tennessee (as well as attempts in New Hampshire, Texas and Indiana). Congressional Republicans tried to block equal pay legislation and birth control coverage as well as holding an all-male hearing barring any women to testify. 2011 (and it looks like 2012 will follow suit) made history for the most abortion restrictions and anti-choice legislation in history. And the examples go on and on and on.
Republicans have complained that Democrats have made this campaign about abortion. But so have they…by attacking abortion. In the GOP’s official 2012 platform, they “assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” It also states party support for a “human life amendment to the Constitution,” aka a personhood amendment. In their party platform, the GOP opposes abortion, marriage equality, immigrants, welfare, women in front-line combat, universal healthcare (or at least the Affordable Care Act), CEDAW and comprehensive sex education.
Yeah, the GOP really cares about women (insert eyeroll).
Make no mistake, the GOP as a party wants to control your body and invade your vagina by putting the rights of a fetus above individual choice.
Ann Romney can talk all she wants about trusting her husband. But should we trust her words or his voting record? Masquerading Mitt Romney as some champion for women’s rights remains nothing more than a nebulous charade. Her speech doesn’t alter her husband’s hideous track record of infringing on reproductive rights. And it certainly doesn’t erase the GOP’s rampant misogyny.
If the GOP truly wants to woo women and close their voter gender gap, perhaps they should stop the bullshit. Sorry Ann, but we’re already wide awake.
Photo credit by NewsHour via the Creative Commons License.
What struck me most about Ann Romney’s speech is how well it underscored the Republican view of women. She focused on how valuable women are as mothers and grandmothers, then threw in daughters and sisters, perhaps recalling that not all women have or want children. In other words, we are valuable primarily because of our familial relationships to others (most particularly to children), not for our contributions to law, medicine, science, or anything else. This fits perfectly with the Republican view that a zygote should have constitutional rights that trump any woman’s rights.
THIS! Yes! Lisa, you articulated the GOP’s sexist gender problems and source of their oppression so succinctly. I could not agree more.
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