Complacent Female Conservatives Are Failing Womankind

To put it mildly, I am a fan of New York Times Op-Ed columnist Gail Collins. While Collins, the first woman at the Old Grey Lady to bear the title of editorial page editor, is a brilliant thinker with journalistic credentials as long as my arm (which according to my personal trainer is rather orangutan-like in its breadth), it’s more than her pedigree that incites fervor. Collins’ style, so humble and approachable, bears at the same time a kind of sharpened common sense that can devastate the opposition. Combine these traits with the kind of natural wit that could have landed Collins a career in sketch comedy writing and you have a recipe for truly special work. It is a shame that she’s only contracted to publish twice a week while it seems like I am bored by the latest meditation on morality from David Brooks every other day. Zzzz.

Anyway, I am about two-thirds of the way through Collins’ 2009 non-fiction wonder, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present. It is a truly enthralling tome that recounts “the astounding revolution in women’s lives over the past 50 years.” The book starts with the early stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement and the Sexual Revolution: two events in American history that changed the way U.S. women viewed their bodies, their work, their neighbors and their places in society. It is a must-read told in the engaging narrative style of a compelling novel.

The underlying argument of the book, while never explicitly stated, is that women have fought hard to break free of the patriarchal conventions that kept them locked inside the home, and beholden to the laws of men, for centuries. There’s no going back. Now remember this book was published in 2009 and Collins is no wide-eyed youth, and yet, viewed through the prism of the 2012 Republican primaries, the author’s certainty that certain freedoms can be taken for granted seems dangerously naive.

In a recent column dated February 8, 2012, Collins wandered into the fray between the White House and Catholic bishops over the administration’s proposed rule that would have required Catholic universities and hospitals to cover contraceptives in their health care plans. It’s almost as though the columnist can’t believe she has to write this:

“The church is not a democracy and majority opinion really doesn’t matter. Catholic dogma holds that artificial contraception is against the law of God. The bishops have the right — a right guaranteed under the First Amendment — to preach that doctrine to the faithful. They have a right to preach it to everybody. Take out ads. Pass out leaflets. Put up billboards in the front yard.

The problem here is that they’re trying to get the government to do their work for them. They’ve lost the war at home, and they’re now demanding help from the outside.”

Welcome to an alternative universe where women are in the position of having to fight for reproductive freedoms that have been assumed for the better part of 40 years.

It may come as no surprise that women who sit on the left side of the political spectrum have been horrified by recent events such as Susan G. Komen’s disingenuous plan to defund Planned Parenthood, or U.S. Rep. Darrel Issa’s convention of a hearing this past Thursday morning on the birth control benefit issue – with an all-male panel. But why aren’t more Republican women howling? Surely conservative male attempts to control our bodies without our input is an issue that ought to unite womankind of all political stripes?

Take this week’s philosophical waxing from Foster Friess, the 71 year-old multimillionaire Rick Santorum donor and colossal jackass, who was quoted as saying to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, “this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s such inexpensive. Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” Why weren’t Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin the first ones out of the gate, shooing the old coot back into the crypt from which he crawled?

After all, the careers of both women would never have been possible without the 20th century woman’s movement. The never-married, childless Coulter is a serial dater (and I am presuming sexually active) with the freedom to run her big mouth on any cable news program she chooses. And Palin with her five children would have been vilified a mere half-century ago for her public proclivities.

Yet women on the right have been curiously silent during an assault on life and liberty that shows no sign of abating. This, almost more so than the white male attempt to roll back decades of female empowerment, is a real shame.

I would argue that all this talk about birth control and abortion is yet another attempt by the GOP to use social issues as a distracting wedge, to prevent the poorer section of the party’s base from focusing on the increasingly disparate positions of the haves and have nots. After all it’s a lot easier to forget that you’re out of a job, have lost your home and retirement account when you have elected leaders yelping about the imminent annihilation of “family values.” But the party’s female caucus shouldn’t allow it. I am publicly calling on them to disavow this strategy. What say you Ann Coulter?

14 Replies to “Complacent Female Conservatives Are Failing Womankind”

  1. a very good article and i am also wondering why we the american public is even allowing the kind of religious blackmail now going on if this is allowed then what is to stop any other religious fanatic to come up with even wilder blackmail Our constitution was created to protect us from the fanatical religious (which it seems is usually a man) blackmail of our government So personally i think that our president should tell the catholic bishops to stay out of government and he will stay out of their religion. When the pope in 2010 stated that it is a guaranteed right of all humans to have health care he didnt say health care only for men or that the health care could only be what the catholic church dictates no he said HEALTH CARE FOR ALL HUMAN BEINGS FROM BIRTH So again i say that this is against our freedom from religious blackmail and should never even been given the time of day. You dont like what another religion says or does then leave them alone but religious freedom means my religion is no better or worse than yours. Also why cant we as women cry fowl that men are given viagra prescriptions and prostate exams so if women cant have birth control cant see why a man needs viagra what do you think

  2. Karen Horney called it begrudging envy: the envier does not so much want something for themselves as to deny it to someone else. Sometimes we’re looking at a queen bee, a Coulter or a Palin or a Schlaffly who can only enjoy pre-eminence if they deny it to others of their own kind. Others- the drab, desperate types who vote for this stuff and then go home to their breeding-bottle-cum-vacuum cleaner existences- are living lives that they hate and are furious that other women are happier or more successful. A third type, the Faded Beauty, is rather a combo: the sort who in some degree was feted for her powers of attraction in her youth, has them no longer, and resents that there are others who get along quite happily into old age with- gasp! Their minds! Their skills! Their character! Their creativity! It wasn’t supposed to be this way!! I’d add that most of these misogynistic women had misogynistic daddies, for which the Republican Party provides excellent substitutes.

  3. Coulter and Palin are dependent on males in the conservative right for the attention they get. Without those males, they’d be nothing. What I don’t understand is why mainstream Republican women–and men, too, for that matter–aren’t lambasting their party for the runaway hysteria, racism, and misogyny that passes itself off as an ideology.

  4. I have ventured that opinion a few times, and got viciously assailed by crurally anomalous narcissists who think that famine, genocide, and wars of aggression all pale in proportion to anything involving their own pudic ganglia. Nonetheless, I agree with you. Something about her is not normal.

  5. Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind has some insights on this, I think. If the roots of conservatism are fear and violence (and Robin, along with recent biologic and behavioral studies, makes a good case for this), then the perception of a loss of power will drive a conservative frantic.

    So if we’re talking about remora-women here, who derive their self-esteem from their attachment to males they imagine to be powerful, then any attack on the power of these males is an attack on themselves.

    Also, the likelihood is that these are mostly white women, isn’t it, who feel a covert superiority to any women who aren’t white. Again, a perceived loss of power that triggers an electric jolt from the fear and violence generators.

    These people are like a sack of cement around the neck of humanity.

  6. A prime essay on this theme:

    http://www.alternet.org/visions/154144/Why_Patriarchal_Men_Are_Utterly_Petrified_of_Birth_Control_–_And_Why_We%27ll_Still_Be_Fighting_About_it_100_Years_From_Now/?page=2

    “Modern industrial economies have undermined the authority of men both in the public sphere and in the private realms; and since they’re limited in how far they can challenge it in the external world, they’ve turned women’s bodies into the symbolic battlefield on which their anxieties over this play out. Drill down to the very deepest center of any of these movements, and you’ll find men who are experiencing this change as a kind of personal annihilation, a loss of masculine identity so deep that they are literally interpreting it as the end of the world.”

  7. They never criticize their own. It would be seen as being disloyal to the party.
    They are more regimented then the nazi. Nobody could be critical of hitler and nobody can be critical of st. ronny.
    The republicans need the catholic church. the church is stupid to think that the republicans will back them up when push comes to shove, because really, they aren’t really christian enough for the RWR right.
    The republican woman should wise up and demanding that their MD’s make health care choices with them, not some white southern male. Otherwise, their birth control options will vanish, but they will still be paying for the Viagra.

  8. The only thing “republican” woman can do is “walk away” from the cult.

    I’m not a “believer” that they haven’t already “wised-up”, know the score and are willing to be complicate for all the reasons stated in comments above (which BTW, are excellent, on-point observations of Palin, Colter, great evidence via Karen Horny/Robin Corey thesis).

    At this point, GOP women’s backs are against the wall; they are hypocrites if they don’t walk away! The GOP women named above have made gobs of money, and, could live on it the rest of their lives. Theoretically, they don’t need a “male provider” to shelter, clothe, feed them nor do they need a “viagra” induced penis to fulfill their other needs…(so many men, so little time!)

    These particular women are silent because they want their personal Aynn Rand style gravy train to continue…and, the Stepford wives live in a cloud far above the fray…and, the radical fundamentalist with no chance use their brain are victims in a system beyond their control.

    Walking away and leaving the cult (which ever one they are members, be it the white male $$$, Stepford zone or the fundamentalist) it is their only choice.

    So, come on you feisty pit-bulls in lipstick, mama grizzly’s, you patriotic Jerry Springer teabaggers gals ichin’ fur a fight, all you bible-thumpin’ role models of modesty who are about to be further burden with more off-spring you cannot attend…make your escape plan, empty the accounts on line, pack up the kids, jump in the SUV and leave!

    It’s that simple…

  9. Yes, fright-wing, mostly middle-aged, CINO women are more than happy to pay for their husband’s Viagra [for obvious reasons], even if younger women of childbearing age bear the will brunt of their inaction.
    It’s just one more way in which to say, “I get mine, the rest of you can .. ..”

  10. You didn’t need the word “complacent”

    “Female Conservatives Are Failing Womankind” by being their own worst enemies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.