“How can women possibly vote for Romney and Ryan?” She looked dismayed, my friend, and I understood how she felt.
How indeed, with the 2012 campaigns’ incessant flow of prejudicial comments spewing from white, male Republican mouths to splatter women with such idiotic statements as, abortion is never medically necessary to save a woman’s life and “Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime, under any reason” (Rep. Joe Walsh, running for re-election); pregnancy that results from rape is a “gift from God” (Richard Mourdock, U.S. Senate candidate*); “forcible rape” is just “stock language” (Rep. Paul Ryan, vice presidential candidate); “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” (Rep. Todd Akin, running for U.S. Senate); “Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly” (Foster Friess, major Republican donor); as governor of Massachusetts he had to rely on “binders full of women” from women’s groups because he didn’t know any qualified women to appoint to his cabinet (Mitt Romney, candidate for president); “some girls, they rape easy” (Roger Rivard, Wisconsin state legislator); and on and on and on and on — with all that, how can any woman vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket?
A ticket, by the way, that perfunctorily rejects other folks’ anti-woman words while defending their own “misspeaks” and continuing to support the ideology that spawns every patriarchal word they’ve all uttered and will inevitably continue to utter because they are such, well, such purveyors of sexist piggery! How can women vote for Romney and Ryan, who are so eagerly rutting around the Republican campaign sty, in anticipation of using the nation’s highest office to directly and indirectly trample the advances that women (along with people of color and the LGBT community) have made in the last 40 years toward pay equity, equal access to housing, jobs, education, military service and parental rights, and reproductive justice — the right to contraception, to basic women’s healthcare, to abortion?
Women supporting Romney-Ryan is akin to LGBT groups endorsing the Republican ticket. Which, oops, Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) did last week, eliciting scathing condemnation from much of the rest of the LGBT community. LCR reported that its decision was based on the economy, the same argument I hear from my female friends who plan to vote for Romney. But their belief that Romney would improve their particular economic situations, or the nation’s, is unfathomable given Romney’s overt alignment with the elite class and corporate agendas. What, do they think he’s suddenly transforming into an egalitarian?
As Romney lobs his new favorite Obama slam, blaming the president for the supposedly false fix of “trickle-down government” (which, unbeknownst to Romney, is what government dollars ought to do), you might remember that the basis of Romney’s plan for economic recovery is Reaganomics, the “trickle-down theory” — giving tax breaks to corporations and the elite, so they can then pay more of us to take two or three part-time, unbenefited jobs manufacturing their widgets and scrubbing their toilets. Oh goodie.
Trickle-down economics didn’t work during the Reagan administration: Deregulation of industry, cuts to taxes and consequently social services and education, increasing debt, and the loss of high-wage jobs replaced with low-wage jobs, battered the working class — and women in particular.
Does anyone really think that Romney’s policy will be any more effective than Reagan’s — or Obama’s? They obviously want to believe it, but do they really think it?
Frankly, I’m not sure what they are thinking, these women who support Romney. Have they succumbed to the faithful admonition from the pulpit to vote as their spiritual leaders dictate? Are they saving their jobs from threatening bosses? Are they on the amorphous family values bandwagon or over-eager to possess guns? Do they actually believe Obama is a non-native Muslim communist? Is it bigotry, pure and simple?
Or have they acquiesced to the pounding repetition that women’s issues are less important than economic issues. And I wish it were needless to say but it isn’t: Not only family planning, but also pay equity, affordable education loans and child care, sexual harassment, fair housing, education and employment — these women’s issue are economic issues, the two are inseparable.
But beating the denial drum has convinced some women to swallow the patriarchal bait. And, with my friend practically frothing at the mouth, I figured examining the women who’ve landed in Romney’s creel could prove enlightening, so I googled “women for romney” and discovered, wouldn’t you know it, Women for Romney 2012.
The group is a self-described “national grassroots organization” of “well-informed politically savvy women.” These savvy women published a column intended to swing undecided, pro-choice women to Romney’s camp. The piece has an extraordinary argument that essentially says this: If you’re a pro-choice woman, just be sure to live in a prochoice state, where your reproductive rights are protected from Republicans, and then go ahead and vote for Romney so he can fix our economic woes, because the economy is more important than anything.
Wowy. I wish that explained it all, that only those women who are wealthy enough to move to the state of their choice support Romney; this would make a little sense. Except that Romney surely will not protect reproductive rights from the war his party is waging against them at every level of government. Except that some working-class women support him, too, which makes no sense, although it does make me sad.
My friend, it makes her furious, but articulately so. “I just want to sit on them and read them the entire contents of a gender studies course!” she sputtered in frustration. I figure the sitting on them part might prove too much of a fun distraction.
I also figure that every woman I know is living women’s economic issues every day. Every woman I know is busting her buns to survive and thrive, regardless of political affiliation; most of them are doing so for others who depend on them. They are all working hard to live on less money. To lead businesses and fight wars. To comfort and care for the afflicted. To rebuild stability after divorce and unemployment. To give birth and to midwife loved ones to their deaths. To survive rape, abuse and discrimination. To raise healthy children in a society laced with poisonous messages. To teach the next generation to think and quest. To succeed in male-centric organizations. To make new homes in countries where violence and oppression don’t live next door. To find elusive cures for deadly diseases. To simultaneously work and parent and manage households. To live to their best abilities.
So, how can women possibly vote for Romney? I don’t know, I don’t get it. But I do know this: Women won’t vote for Romney if they understand that women’s issues are more important than anything — because they encompass everything.
* It is noteworthy that Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, Richard Mourdock’s opponent, was a cosponsor of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which originally referred to “forcible rape.”
Kit-Bacon Gressitt's commentary and political fiction can be read on her blog Excuse Me, I'm Writing and is republished by SDGLN, The Ocean Beach Rag and The Progressive Post. She formerly worked for the North County Times. She is also host of Fallbrook's monthly Writers Read open mic and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.