April 18, 2012 / Politics

If This Is a “War on Women”, Why Do I Feel Like I’m the Grenade?


Much has been made of the “war on women” in the last couple months following Congressional talks about federal insurance mandates for birth control. Comments from national and local talk radio hosts, political pundits, and so called comedians  disparaging women across the political spectrum have come under scrutiny providing further ammunition in this “war”. Such comments have led politicians on both sides of the aisle to seek donations off of these comments.  Congresswoman Pelosi and Democratic strategists James Carville and Donna Brazille have sent out fundraising emails referencing this “war on women”. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has also sent out an email to raise funds off of Hilary Rosen’s comments about his wife’s choice to stay at home. In many ways, this “war on women” has simply become political theater by people on both sides of the aisle. It makes me think, if this is a war on women, why do I feel like I’m the grenade? In the battle of rhetorical contrast, women have become the weapon used to score political points.

In the political battle for the “women’s vote”, politicians attempt to one up each other on their respective political rhetoric and record when, in reality, no one is perfect. President Obama held a women’s economic summit at the White House earlier this month, but not before hosting the Muslim Brotherhood—a religious sect known for its anti-woman doctrine—just days before the women’s economic summit. It was also reported last week that the median salary of female White House staff was 18% lower than their male counterparts;this after President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act more than three years ago. Meanwhile, likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney engaged in questionable political maneuvering when he has faced female opponents in previous elections and has come under fire for hosting male candidate only fundraiser in Arizona in 2010 when two Republican women were running for Congress in the state. Romney has also employed staffers who have referred to Sarah Palin as “not a serious human being” and have relished the opportunity to run against Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin because it would allow them to create a contrast against a “crazy woman”.  Neither presidential hopeful can claim to be the “women’s candidate” based solely upon their rhetoric and record because they both have imperfections. Women have the opportunity to compare and contrast the rhetoric and records of both candidates and choose for themselves which one they think deserves their vote.

The “women’s vote” is indeed a very important component of any election. A Politico op-ed penned by the CEO of Concerned Women of America, Penny Nance, noted:

The hand that rocks the cradle can swing an election. Women have carried every presidential election since 1964. They are late-in-the-game deciders who avoid single-issue politics in favor of complex considerations. Just two years after 56 percent of women voted for Barack Obama, they supported Republicans in their 2010 victory over Democrats. They swung 6 points away from Obama in the midterm elections, telling pollsters that fiscal issues and the size, scope, and spending by government motivated them to turn the tables.

The voice of women has made a huge impact at the ballot box, but the “women’s vote” is not a collective declaration. Rather, the “women’s vote” is a collection of individual women’s decisions based upon their priorities. A CNN poll performed late last month indicated that 54% of women saw the economy as the most important issue with 16% and 14% of women stating that the federal budget deficit and healthcare were the most important issues respectively. The remaining 16% of women thought that either the situation in Afghanistan, illegal immigration, terrorism, or gay and lesbian policies were the most important issues.  Suffice it to say, each women has a unique set of priorities when it comes to how they vote, and women’s opinions on how these priorities should be as a means of policy fall all along the political spectrum.

Hyping the “war on women” may score temporary political points or a fundraising bump, but it also disrespects the intelligence of women. Women aren’t looking for someone who fought with us by using us as a political weapon to defeat their electoral opponent. We are looking for the candidate who fought with us by fighting for the issues that we think are imperative. The female voter is not a grenade in a rhetorical political war; the female voter is the “Molly Pitcher” who is engaged in the battle herself and wants to align with the candidate fighting that same battle.


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  • Bes

    So true. The Republicans and Democrats should be fighting a war against each other FOR women’s votes. Having an authentic women’s organization rather than the ones we now have that are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Democrats could help women greatly. Sure we are a mixed bag of people and not a united front but an honest survey of women’s attitudes would serve us well. For instance I am sure there are many different attitudes about birth control and I am also sure about 85% of women consider birth control a good idea and birth control is also probably one of the top reasons women in the fertile age group go to Doctors so if you exempt that from health coverage you are forcing women who make far less salary than men to pay into a system that does nothing to meet their needs. It would be a good idea for a women’s group to survey a wide range of women and come up with some statistics on what they feel is important political issues.

    Regarding Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann and other women candidates. Many of the snide misogynist remarks are from East Coast people who are outraged that someone outside their narrow view of what’s relevant in the world should run for nation wide office. Both parties are misogynist and both originate from the world nexus of misogyny on the East Coast and systematically keep women from participating in many subtle ways. Both parties have sold out to multinational corporations and have failed The People. Michelle and Palin come from outside the power base of the parties threaten the status quo. It simply rocks the world of the political establishment that “others” can run for office without their permission and both parties do everything they can to keep women out of politics so the only women who run will be from outside the system. I really believe that both parties don’t realize we are sick of them and their power grubbing and selling out and we hold both sides responsible for trashing a once great country. They are completely oblivious to reality and doing everything in their power to stay that way.

  • yttik

    Actually, being the grenade would be an improvement. At the moment women just seem to be collateral damage. We need to get in there and become a massive war of women and teach these two parties that we aren’t a special interest group or a sub category that’s going to be happy being tossed a few crumbs, we’re half the human race. Subsidized contraception is too little too late, I want full economic and political power.

  • Kathleen Wynne


    If only all women spoke with your passion and resolve to obtain what is already rightfully ours, we wouldn’t need to be having the ongoing, tiresome, repetitive arguments women are forced to engage in during an election year.

    Women are and always have been “collateral damage” to a patriarchial system that still has the balls to consider themselves superior and entitled to everything their hearts desire. I’m sure there are men who don’t feel this way, but they must be in the minority because their support has not changed the harsh reality women still face in still having to point out to the patriarchy that “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights”…

  • L. Anselmi

    Great post Whitney!

    And yeah, both candidate fall way short in their equality treatment of women. Maybe if we start pulling our own pins and blowing up their hands, both parties will start to recognize we aren’t a game for their amusement!

  • ryan

    beautifully written, well balanced and totally true.

  • Anita Finlay

    Whitney, beautifully expressed. Thank you for your wise words.

  • Susan

    Now all women’s groups are attached at the hip to the Democratic Party. The Concerned Women for America, whose leader was quoted in the above article, is a perfect representation of the extremsts GOP agenda.
    They even oppose the VAWA, insisting that it’s programs are “feminist boondoggles” that destroy marriages. Gee, what a shame that a few tax dollars are spent to fund shelters for women who are beaten and raped by their husbands or partners.

    A particular part of the Act that they oppose is Sec. 302 which they describe with obvious disgust as “re-educating” youths about domestic violence. It reads:

    “Creating Hope through Outreach, Options, Services, and Education for Children and Youth (`CHOOSE Children & Youth’)

    A critical aspect of combating domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking is the impact these crimes have on children and youth, who may have been either directly victimized or traumatized by being exposed to such violence. VAWA addressed this issue by creating several different programs throughout the years that were aimed at providing education, prevention strategies, and services to children and youth.

    Consistent with the overall goal of VAWA 2011, this section, along with section 402, consolidates eight current grants into two more streamlined programs. This section focuses on grants to provide services for children and youth victims, such as counseling, mentoring, and legal assistance, as well as training and assistance to personnel at middle and high schools who can help victims. Grantees may be victim service providers and community-based organizations that are encouraged to partner with State, tribal, and local governments, and other agencies that work with children and youth.

    The authorized funding for this consolidated grant program is $15 million, a $15 million reduction from the $30 million authorized by the individual programs.”

    Providing assistance to the youthful victims of domestic violence and programs which help to educate youths about what constitutes domestic violence seems to be a something we could all agree on but the “Concerned Women for America” are vehemently opposed enough that they singled out this section on their website.

  • Great post, Whitney. Thanks for your insights on this issue.

    yttik – well said!!

  • Bes

    Here is the deal. Many people are for birth control and are for having shelters for abused women and children. They even agree that not everyone can afford to pay for their own health or for a hotel to escape an abusive relationship. But that doesn’t mean the government who manages money like a drunken sailor should provide these things. If you want Planned Parenthood to exist then donate your money to it, I do because when I was in my early 20s they provided my health care for a pittance and I feel I owe them. All these things that liberals support giving to anyone who needs them…well that is fine they need to donate their money for that purpose. They don’t need to impose their laundry list of essentials on everyone and tax us to pay for it. Any non government group could provide services for half the cost.

  • Kali

    Bes, do you think that the military should be maintained through private donations and we should not pay taxes for it?

  • Bes

    Kali: If you don’t have a military you won’t have a country and you won’t have to worry about government provided social services. The military is like roads, something that is better coordinated by government. But unfortunately since our government is owned by multinational corporations and does not represent The People we are pushed into a state of war on multiple fronts so the military industrial complex can profit.

    Once government run health care is established you will have access to far more billable procedures however they will likely have little relevance to your actual health needs. There will be an expanded layer of bureaucrats who need to be paid and more multinational corporations lined up at the tax dollar feeding trough. It’s already happening, my insurance has gone up a good deal since Obama care was passed. It is to the point where I pay monthly, my employer pays monthly and I have ever increasing co-pays to use my insurance. I’m ready to opt out and pay the money into an individual account that I control if I need to pay for healthcare.

    And I resent the implication that people who don’t want to be taxed so the government can provide for the needy are heartless pigs who don’t care about anyone but themselves. This is two separate issues one is caring about the needy and one is not wanting to pay charity money to a bunch of drunken sailor government officials so they can waste it which experience shows they always do.

  • Kali

    If the government is like a drunken sailor with money how can it be trusted with the military or even roads? Suddenly the drunken sailor becomes capable of complex coordination when it comes to the military or roads?

  • Bes

    Our Government has not done a great job with the military but maybe they have done as good a job as humans can do. There is a lot of waste, we are in wars that are none of our business and multinational corporations who supply war materials and service military away from the USA urge us into war for their own profit. VP Cheney was CEO of Halliburton which profits on our wars before he was pulling the strings of his Bush puppet. But the government is the lesser of possible evils as far as running the military goes. You have to have one and if it is left up to random war like men to organize military as they see fit they will fight among themselves and create a environment where none of us can live. You can’t get rid of war like, power grubbing men so you need some way to keep them under control. If you have a better idea I’m open to hearing it. Also my roads are full of pot holes and the bridges are not safe for the earthquake we in the Pacific Northwest are overdue to have. Who would you suggest to do a better job? We could give them a try. I don’t think the government actually does anything but contract out the construction at this point anyway.

    Seriously the Congress and President should be able to manage our tax money. But they don’t. They seldom have. It doesn’t appear to be one of their goals. So why give them more money or put them in charge of anything important. We would all be better off if we cut government, cut taxes and all of us take personal responsibility for helping our needy neighbors.

  • Kali

    Bes, I’m finding it difficult to follow your logic about why the Government is the most responsible, most organised, least evil entity among all options when it comes to the military, but a drunken sailor and the least responsible, least organised, most evil entity when it comes to most other things.

    Regardless of whether it is the military or roads, the government is contracting out the work. Halliburton was the military contractor, wasn’t it? So, what’s the big difference?

    We would all be better off if we cut government, cut taxes and all of us take personal responsibility for helping our needy neighbors.

    I don’t think there are enough people voluntarily taking personal responsibility for helping our needy neighbours. I think it is easy to say that people should, or even to throw some spare change in the bucket and pat oneself on the back for doing a good deed. It takes a lot more than that to actually make a dent in the social services that are needed and that is where the taxes come in. I don’t believe in throwing our needy neigbours on the mercy of random strangers, and patting myself on the back for throwing some spare change in their direction. It takes a commitment to make a real change and a willingness to be taxed as a society to take care of the things we consider important is a part of that commitment. Blaming the government is just an excuse to avoid doing that.