Firstly, is there a war on women?
Democrats say yes - and it's Republicans setting the land mines. Republicans say no - and have uncovered a slew of female faithful (Mary Kate Cary, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Sabrina Schaefffer to name a few) to get the message out. But more importantly to women - how have the rights of 51% of the electorate become so politicized?
The proof is in the pandering. What do our representatives say and do about women's rights and the issues that particularly impact women?
The majority of the legislation and rhetoric targeted at women's rights have centered on abortion and contraception, which may also be linked to a reported drop in pro-choice identification among Americans. These bills have been numerous and unrelenting - including bills to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, seeking to give private employers control over their female employees access to contraception, seeking a personhood amendment to the constitution, seeking to redefine rape as limited to 'forcible rape' to prevent funding for abortions in cases of acquaintance rape, seeking to criminalize abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and even attempts to limit access to the HPV vaccine for minors.
But the hoopla over reproductive control has obscured some equally disturbing trends from the GOP in relation to equal treatment for women. For instance, the GOP party platform includes avoiding "social experimentation" in the military - including denying women the right to serve in ground combat. The right to be placed in extreme danger for little compensation may seem like a hollow victory to some, but for many top leadership positions, both within the military and in the federal government, experience in combat service is a necessary career move.
The GOP has also obstructed efforts to achieve and protect equitable income between the sexes: Democrats drafted a Paycheck Fairness Act, which would shift the burden of proof on employers to justify facially inequitable pay for women, as well as permit compensatory and punitive damage awards. The bill was filibustered by Senate Republicans. Democrats also sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act - only 8 of 219 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the bill. In defense, many prominent GOP lawmakers now deny the existence of a gender pay gap, thus explaining why they refuse to take action to address the problem.
Is the war on women also a war on moms? Working moms?
It seems counterintuitive, being that the GOP have evinced such a fervid investment in our fruitfulness, to think that they would oppose the systemic protections that make it possible for most Americans to afford parenthood. However, vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has proposed cutting Medicaid, a program insuring 28 million children, by $770 billion. A move which harms all poor and working class Americans, but single mothers in particular. Head Start and pre-school programs across the country have likewise been among the first programs to see their funding slashed. Lawmakers in Frederick County, Maryland, went so far as to say women should get married and stay home with their pre-schoolers in lieu of formal schooling anyway, as justification for funding cuts. Even the federal school lunch program has been targeted for defunding by Republican senate candidates, such as Todd Akin and Jeff Flake. Really? Feeding tater-tots to poor kids is what's holding our economy back fellas?
One area where both parties are leaving us in the lurch? Paid maternity and family leave.