Attempt to Gaslight Women Will Blow Up Republicans

I’ve got a lousy cold and a lot of work – and ideas – backed up but I cannot endure one more column headline opining on why there’s a gender gap between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

The gap exists because of reality: when women look around and on an every day occasion, see and experience where we aren’t included or even thought about, or, when we are included or thought about, how we’re treated – whether in real life (Ginni Rometty) or fake life (anything on Mad Men) – we don’t like it. And we see the statements and policies of conservatives as, in general (yes, there are exceptions), upholding, supporting and keeping in stasis what we don’t like, while we see the statements and policies of moderates and liberals as, in general, seeking to change, alter, take down and improve that which we don’t like (though of course there are plenty of exceptions there too – start with any sex scandal).

And, as if to underscore how clueless the men are, US Senator Mitch McConnell claimed that his female colleagues certainly would support him in calling out the “war on women” as being manufactured. Thanks, Mitch, for demonstrating how completely you haven’t heard a word your female colleagues have said and how thoroughly you expect them to follow you in lockstep, to wit, from that link:

“Talk about a manufactured issue. There is no issue,” McConnell said. “Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (from Texas) and Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine I think would be the first to say—and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska—’we don’t see any evidence of this.’”

However, three of those female GOP lawmakers whom McConnell cited— Snowe, Hutchison and Murkowski—have specifically spoken out against Republican measures they believe are aimed at women.

Then, there’s the whole gaslighting aspect to what McConnell and others like Republican National Committee Chair, Reince Priebus, are saying – Priebus analogizing his belief that the notion of there being a war on women is as far-fetched as suggesting there’s a war on caterpillars.

We’re not being gaslighted – reality bites. And no amount of optics of Republican female spokespeople on the trail or a strong spouse, daughter-in-law or mother will begin to cut into the reality.

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  1. Capitalizing on dustups is though, as I am guessing you’d agree, part of the entire game that’s pursued – for better or worse, and all around.

    Here’s what I always think about and I think it’s a really solid rule, though it can really curtail supporting much of anything: if you (generic you, not you or me) don’t want to see negative ads or the capitalization of dustups and so on, then don’t give money to those entities that use those tactics to gain an advantage. This is easier said than done but these days, it’s not hard to know that certain groups may use certain tactics, others not so much. Giving to a candidate directly or to a local organization that reflects one’s own perspectives and behaviors is the safe bet when using money to support something. Otherwise, people should use their time or their words (i.e., writes letters to the editor, make calls, lick envelopes).

    Making all these observations we’re making shows that we can distinguish – but how many people are this literate when it comes to deciphering campaigns? And the net effect ends up being less participation – which is not what I want, though it certainly may be what some strategists want – and that’s a whole other blog post, right!? :)

    I believe engaging in this way – as we do here – helps on an individual basis. My work in my day life with a group called the Civic Commons is about how to expand that to a public square space, virtual and in real-time. And in my council work, it’s the same thing – I don’t much care for what we decide to do per se, so long as the process is open and transparent (and I’ve got a whole batch of issues going on with that right now under a new administration) – it’s what do the residents & taxpayers want.

    All that said, I won’t sit out voting because I don’t agree with tactics. But I will work hard to find other ways to participate in away that’s consistent with my beliefs.

  2. I think the Obama campaign’s capitalization on this dustup, for instance, was ridiculous.

    Never let a crisis go to waste, if you are a true politician, of either party.

  3. Not everyone will enjoy this but Stephen Colbert did a send up of the Wisconsin legislator who said that money is more important to men in the context of discussing the repeal of the state’s equal pay law – it’s more toward the end of the segment but the whole thing is about 3 mins – for the record, I don’t watch Colbert or Jon Steward, Bill Maher – any of that, but when segments are pointed out as this one was to me on a listserv, I often will take a look –

  4. “OK, Roro, so when liberals push for laws they think are needed, they’re “closing loopholes” rather than “pushing the agenda left” but when conservatives push for their policy preferences it’s to push the agenda rightward.”

    If the intent of a law is to make is it so employers can’t discriminate against people based on gender or race, and an employer finds a way to skirt that law legally and discriminate anyway, closing the loophole doesn’t move the world left. One might argue that anti-discrimination laws are progressive, and I would agree, but allowing for actual enforcement of the laws that exist is different than moving policy one way or another.

    CStanley, you seem to be trying to say this is all normal, and there’s nothing to see here, folks, but I still have a right and responsibility to say that passing these laws to roll back the rights of women does, in fact, hurt millions of women. Saying that oh, there’s a law against discrimination, but you can’t sue in a financially reasonable way if your boss is discriminating against you, takes the teeth out of the law. It hurts the people the law is meant to protect. Oh sure, you can get an abortion, but whooops there’s nowhere to get one because they closed down all the places near you where the procedure is performed by passing laws that say those places need to have full hospital facilities — laws the lawmakers knew full well would be impossible to comply with. This will hurt all the women who need the procedure in those areas.

    Real things with real consequences to real people, CStanley. Maybe it’s all just so much politics to you, as someone who doesn’t anticipate ever needing to sue due to discrimination, or someone who is fine without birth control, or someone who is perhaps beyond the age when an abortion might be necessary under any circumstances. You’ve got yours, so it’s all politics to you. What about me and the other millions of women who are not you? Why do you and the primarily white male power structure in Washington get to limit the rights of the rest of us? Why do you get to choose the outcomes of our lives?

  5. Very cute clip, thanks, Jill. Of those three comics, Colbert is my guy (oops, person). I would like to watch Jon, but his histrionics turn me away. OK, I eat my broccoli on Friday night and catch the sneermaster BM.
    I think we need the laughs cause politics is so serious that it is harmful to the psyche.
    And, it serves the purpose of pointing out the absurdity of many things that because of too much partisanship are gaslighted (phew, I’ve been dying to use that term).

  6. dduck (said politely and nicely — promise!): you gaslight a person, not an issue or a thing.

  7. Retort, equally politely, this is the new gaslight, according to dduck.

  8. Fair enough.

  9. @dduck – TOTALLY off topic – I watched the Jon Stewart clip pitting Easter against Passover – tears in my eyes esp. at the very end because my kids do these characters that sound just like the voice-over couple in the clip. Too funny – and true! must share –

  10. It’s called EastOver.

  11. Roro,
    The same is true in reverse though, in terms of enforceability. The Roe decision gave considerable latitude for states to restrict third trimester abortions and yet any law which attempts to do so is opposed on the grounds that we can’t question whether or not there is a serious health risk to the mother because that’s an invasion of her privacy and/ or an inappropriate insertion of state authority into a doctor patient relationship. If that’s not an unenforceable law, then I don’t know what is.

    And in terms of access, supporters of abortion access are perfectly free to donate their own time and money toward making that happen without taxpayer dollars.

    As for the rest- just once I’d love to have a discussion on this issue without someone making it personal. While I am close to the end of my childbearing age, my views on abortion and contraception have been consistent throughout my 20s, 30s, and 40s so my current age isn’t relevant. Beyond that, your implication of me having an attitude of “I got mine so who cares” is utterly offensive and you have no idea what issues I’ve faced relative to this anyway. As it happens, in May of 2009 I found out I was pregnant the same day we found out that my husband lost his job. I was 44 so in addition to the financial hardship there was the fear of complications for me and our baby. Fortunately she is healthy but I almost died from an infection of my C section incision.

    Is that the worst anyone has had to face? No, I’m sure it’s not….but it’s certainly not the type of charmed life experience that you insinuate I’ve had.

  12. CStanley — You can’t say this is personal for nobody but you. You and your family were able to follow your personal values and make choices according to your own conscience at a very difficult time, and I am truly glad that your child is healthy and that you were able to recover from your infection. But you were able to choose your path according to your circumstances and your values. I don’t understand why you would want to force your choices and your conscience onto other families and women who hold different values, who would make other choices, and whose outcomes might not eventually turn out as yours have.

  13. Roro- I shared my personal experience in response to your implication that I don’t have standing in this situation. In my own view, the personal doesn’t matter. To me, the idea that we should make laws or decide ethical and moral issues based on personal anecdotes, or exclude people from having opinions and votes on matters on that basis, is unacceptable. It would be like saying that no one can support homicide laws unless they’ve personally been in a situation, or expect they might be, to feel justified in killing another person.

  14. CStanley, your situation points out very clearly that this is, indeed, a personal issue. That’s why people make it personal. It’s not just politics. It’s not a hypothetical intellectual excercise for policy wonks. You managed to totally bypass the whole point, which you’ve done many times now, so I’ll ask again. Why do you insist that your personal choices and conscience should be made into law for everybody?

  15. On an issue where another life is at stake, roro, society (and by extension, I) have every right and responsibility to make laws to protect that life. Why is it that you sidestep the fact that Roe v Wade affirmed that principle at least to some degree?

  16. To further address your question, roro, there are all sorts of other situations where I would not expect other people to make choices according to my own values, but those situations are different than abortion because there isn’t another person involved, clearly I understand that not everyone agrees with me about a pregnancy at all stages involving another person- but equally clearly, you should be able to see that those who do believe this can’t possibly accept the killing of the fetus as a valid choice that other women should be allowed to make.

  17. I would like to point out that Bill Maher doesn’t belong in the same sentence with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

  18. CStanley– are you trying to say that if the situation was reversed that a Republican candidate would not seize on the issue?

    Romney may not be responsible for all of the conservative laws that have been passed that are affecting women– but he has endorsed some initiatives that are unpopular with Democratoc and Independent women– the Personhood Movement, the Ryan budget and the Blunt Amendment. I see no real problem in Obama pointing out that the two parties offer different choices to women–The Democrats and Obama have supported the Lily Ledbetter act, the GOP did not. The Democrats and Obama support keeping Planned Parenthood open– the GOP does not. The GOP would like to put as many roadblocks in the way of a woman getting a legal abortion, the Democrats oppose that. Yes, calling it a war uses hyperbole but its to be expected in an election year and it is certainly no more ridiculous than the Republicans claiming a war on Christians, war on religion, war on Christmas, etc.

  19. BB: “no more ridiculous than the Republicans claiming a war on Christians, war on religion, war on Christmas, etc.”
    Did I miss that, I just took a little nap.

  20. Bluebelle- no I’m not at all trying to claim that a GOP candidate wouldn’t use this tactic.

    I think It’s kind of a given that the GOP candidate has some positions that are unpopular with Democrats and left leaning independents, and vice versa for the Dem candidate with Republicans and right of center independents. Wouldn’t you agree?

  21. CS
    Sure– but this is more of an agenda– against women.
    I actually think Romney doesn’t really care one way or the other and is being dragged to the right by the GOP base on this issue. It just seems to be pretty foolish in an election year to hand this to the Democrats, especially since many close elections come down to close women voters.
    My last point is — that I don’t understand why conservatives, who want to cut back on the safety net and cut back on the number of abortions, wouldn’t want to give women every opportunity to get birth control. Closing Planned Parenthood leaves poor women in the lurch– if they can’t get birth control they may have to go on welfare with an unwanted birth.

  22. My respect for your moral stand on any issue depends on the means you use to force me to abide by it. If you use deception to reach your goal (gaslighting), you are being immoral no matter how morally you belive you are behaving.

    The Supreme Court has made the decision that a fetus is not considered a person until separated from the mother at birth. Until that point, the mother’s health and safety, in law, is the primary consideration.

    If you don’t agree with the laws in place, you may try to change them. If you can’t change them, you must abide by them. If you can’t abide by them or try to circumvent them with other laws, my respect for your morals no longer exists.

    If we none of us had to pay taxes for something we feel is immoral, that would be a good thing. It doesn’t work that way; most of us have moral qualms about some things our taxes go for. Your moral certainty is no more valuable or informed than mine.

  23. TO- by that logic, Dred Scott would have never have been reversed.

  24. Though the Dredd Scott decision was never completely overruled, a civil war was fought and a new amendment to the Constitution was passed which overruled a portion of that decision. Some would have the 14th amendment reinterpreted or amended as a solution to what they see as an immigration problem, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Another civil war or another amendment might do the trick. The laws passed which try to curtail the effects of Roe v Wade are what the author, I think, is calling gaslighting.

    Many laws have been passed including manslaughter charges for the accidental death of a fetus. I believe most of these have been overturned, but I’m not sure since the same efforts keep coming up (gaslighting) and some law somewhere probably has yet to be overturned.

    It is not too great a step from a manslaughter charge in the accidental death of a fetus to “The Handmaid’s Tale”. That would be the logical conclusion of a decision that a fetus has personhood under the law.

  25. CStanley — I’m actually ok with thinking of fetae as living things, even if not really “people” yet. I’m ok with the idea that there is another life involved. What I’m not ok with is you saying that that life means that it’s ok to fully take over the body of another person who is with no doubt a person. Your personal case illustrates very powerfully that having that other life inside can be extremely dangerous to the definitely-a-person woman. Because your fetus was a person to you, and because that fetus was someone you loved, you were willing to take the risk of your own health and life to carry it to term. Again — how can you presume to make that choice for others?

    There are lots of other cases where a person relies on another person’s bodily functions to live — organ donors, for example. However, we as a society don’t even mandate that people have to give up their organs so others can live after the donor is dead, even if the person will definitely die without the dead person’s kidney/heart/liver/etc. Even after they’re dead. We give the dead more bodily autonomy and choice than you are saying we should give to pregnant women.

    My point is not that the fetus at (choose a number) weeks of development is not a person — I don’t know if it is, and neither do you. I don’t know when a “soul” enters, and neither do you. I don’t know when they start to feel pain, and neither do you. I do know that there is another person, who definitely has a soul, who definitely feels pain, and is definitely fully a person in every sense of the word, and that her ability to choose who she shares bodily functions with, who she chooses to donate her organs and bloodstream and birth canal to, is one of her most important rights.

  26. “Why is it that you sidestep the fact that Roe v Wade affirmed that principle at least to some degree?”

    I don’t. Not sure why you think this is a gotcha.

  27. Also, by the way, I notice you’ve completely ignored the other issues here — discrimination in the workplace, for example. Abortion is something that the GOP at least has some support on, and it’s certainly a large component of what some are calling the “war on women”, but it’s also the part of a larger pattern.

  28. Hmmm…comment got eaten. Trying again:

    I do notice, also, CStanley, that you’ve ignored the other issues involved here, like discrimination in the workplace and conscience clauses for Plan B (birth control — NOT abortion). Abortion is something the GOP has some support on, and it’s certainly the main focal piece of what some are calling the “war on women”, but it’s also just a part of a recent pattern of trying to roll back hard-won established women’s rights.

  29. Commenting problem again — comment disappears, then won’t let me re-enter it, because it’s a duplicate. Trying again:

    I do notice, also, CStanley, that you’ve ignored the other issues involved here, like discrimination in the workplace and conscience clauses for Plan B (birth control — NOT abortion). Abortion is something the GOP has some support on, and it’s certainly the main focal piece of what some are calling the “war on women”, but it’s also just a part of a recent pattern of trying to roll back hard-won established women’s rights.

  30. Commenting problem again — comment disappears, then won’t let me re-enter it, because it’s a duplicate.

  31. CS and roro,

    Only skimming, but keep up the good work both of you.

    CS: wish I had time to support you here. It’s lonely work I know.

    Ohioan, good points as usual.

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