"Congress has to step up and do its job. Women are the breadwinners for a lot of families, and if they’re making less than men do for the same work, families are going to have to get by for less money for childcare and tuition and rent … Everybody suffers."
Earlier this month, Mitt Romney started wooing women voters with talk of jobs, not birth control and abortion. He’s onto something. The “war on women” rhetoric was starting to strain credulity a little. While the Republican-led attacks on contraception funding and access to abortion certainly amount to a rollback in reproductive rights, “war on women” is overheated: what we’ve been seeing is more than the “kerfuffle” Republican strategists want to demote it to, but less than what some Democrats have made it out to be.
Besides, it’s true that women do not vote like “some monolithic bloc,” as President Obama said at a recent press event, and that they don’t necessarily like to be told that they should. Opinion on social issues doesn’t shake out neatly along gender lines. Indeed, on abortion, there is virtually no gender divide: fifty-two per cent of women and fifty per cent of men think it should be legal in all or most circumstances; forty-two per cent of women and forty-four per cent of men think it should be illegal. (Gay marriage is another matter: fifty-three per cent of women support it, compared to forty per cent of men.) As a commenter on a conservative Christian blog noted recently, complaining about a map of the best states for women that used access to abortion as one of the criteria, “No thought was given to the fact that many women are not for and would not want easy access to abortion.” Education level turns out to be a more reliable predictor of attitude on abortion than gender, with college-educated Americans the most likely to say it should be legal in most cases.
- In today’s Daily Comment, Margaret Talbot writes about closing the gender gap: http://nyr.kr/IAQSrj
The people who have urged Komen to stop supporting Planned Parenthood aren’t opposed to breast-cancer screenings; they’re opposed to other services Planned Parenthood provides, which include contraception and abortion. But a campaign to sever the ties between a foundation that’s raising money to find a cure for breast cancer and a health-care provider that advocates for reproductive rights exposes more than a division over contraception and abortion. It exposes a gruesome truth about politics in this country.
In American politics, women’s bodies are not bodies, but parts. People like to talk about some parts more than others. Embryos and fetuses are the most charged subject in American political discourse. Saying the word “cervix” was the beginning of Rick Perry’s end. In politics, breasts are easier to talk about. I first understood this a few years ago, when I was offered, at an otherwise very ordinary restaurant, a cupcake frosted to look like a breast, with a nipple made of piped pink icing. It was called a “breast-cancer cupcake,” and proceeds went to the Race for the Cure.