Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, July 3, 2014

War On Women

The formulation of a "War on Women" is a bit over the top.  Wars destroy indiscriminately and wreck havoc over large swaths of the country.

But we use the "War" metaphor for all sorts of ways - Wars on Poverty, Drugs, Illiteracy - so why not this.

When it comes to contraception, the vivid distinction between those that have a problem with terminating a pregnancy and those who simply believe women should shut up and be pregnant becomes pretty vivid.

I disagree with those who believe abortion kills a human being.  But I can respect that neither of us knows what a first trimester fetus feels, thinks or whether it has any consciousness at all.  Both of us are acting, in effect, on a position of faith.

But contraception is different.  If you don't believe me, read this.

For a particularly odious - and not small - segment of the right, contraception is about "consequence free sex" in the words of Erick Erickson or "slut pills" in the words of Rush Limbaugh.

This is the logic of the "forced birth" movement.  That sex should have some sort of "consequence" is a paleolithic way to look at both sex and women.  The consequences of sex should be a bit of physical pleasure, increased intimacy and - if both people WANT to - possible planned pregnancies.  And of course, these are the same trolls who think sexual assault is overstated, even that it "confers privileged status" in the words of George Will.

I realize that the official position of the Catholic Church is to oppose all contraception.  But we also know that over 90% of Catholics use birth control.  And the Church under Francis really doesn't prioritize that narrow segment of belief.  And to reduce Catholicism to a giant, withered finger wagging against the Pill and condoms is itself a revealing tell.

The same figures who applaud the Catholic Five on the Court privileging the Catholic position on birth control over other beliefs and rights are vigorously opposed to the Catholic Church's position on capital punishment and preemptive war.  They are willing to ignore the current Pope on executing people but cling vigorously to an old proscription against birth control.

Why is that, if not because of a profound contempt for women?

Is it a "War"?  Perhaps "Oppression" is the better term, but War on Women is catchier and frankly not so far out of line in a country that talks about a "War on Christmas."

I am probably farthest to the left on economic matters, so Hillary Clinton's presumed ascendancy to the White House leaves me ambivalent.  She is just too close to Wall Street for me.

But I can only imagine the bile and filth that will be hurled at her by the vocal avatars of the Right's Anti-woman Caucus.  All the racism that was directed at Obama will morph into sexism (mixed with ageism) and be thrown at Clinton.

And just as the birth certificate nonsense and the thinly veiled racist attacks have consolidated minority voters within the Democratic Party, so, too, will the coming nastiness towards Clinton cement women into the Democratic Party.

The Right's retrograde position on sexuality - both via contraception and marriage equality - is the key to its coming irrelevancy.  For thirty years, the GOP won elections on social issues and culture wars.

But that time is coming to an end.

And not a moment too soon.

No comments: