If you can’t say anything sensible
Misogynistic Donald Trump is the least of the Republicans’ problem with women voters. Sure, he’s a narcissistic, ridiculous blowhard whose comments are often crude and juvenile, especially when directed towards or about smart, assertive women. It’s what we’ve come to expect from a super-rich white Republican man who firmly believes the world revolves around only him.
Trump’s comments last week, the latest in a long series of sexist and inappropriate remarks, seemed to push even the mild-mannered Jeb! over the line. The day after the debate in response to yet another outrageous comment by Trump, Bush asked rhetorically, “Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53 percent of all voters?” He then called on Trump to apologize.
Trump is a loud, obnoxious buffoon, and the coarser he is, the more attention he gets, which clearly seems to be his goal. He won’t be apologizing any time soon.
But the real insult to women was the attitude displayed by many of his fellow candidates on the debate stage last week, especially when the Fox news hosts turned to the subject of abortion.
Sen. Marco Rubio declared abortion to be unconstitutional and said he didn’t support exclusions for rape or incest. In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo the day following the debate, he acknowledged his Catholic faith influences his politics, leaving no room for anyone else’s religion when determining abortion policy.
Cuomo challenged Rubio’s position on behalf of women living in the 21st century. He told Rubio: “As you know, cultural mores in this country, certainly the opinions of women, are not in step with what you’re saying right now. You’re comfortable with that?” Rubio’s answer: “But the value of life is timeless. … The idea that a human life is worthy of the protection of our laws is not something that over time anybody should evolve on.” He later went on to label Cuomo’s views that abortion should be available to women in situations of rape and incest as “radical.”
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is even more extreme than Rubio on the subject. Last month, he said he doesn’t think abortion should be a decision between a woman and her doctor. In last week’s debate, he declared there should not even be an exception if the mother’s life is in danger. When debate moderator Megyn Kelly questioned whether he would “really let a mother die rather than have an abortion,” he said, “The unborn child can be protected and there are many alternatives that would protect the life of the mother.” What those alternatives are is anybody’s guess.
And we now know that former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee is a fan of the “personhood” movement and wants the U.S. Constitution to recognize the legal rights of embryos.
While the Republican candidates competed to espouse the most extreme anti-abortion views, there was no discussion of many other issues of importance to women voters. No one talked about equal pay or guaranteed access to contraception in health plans. No one seemed concerned about the “sandwich” many women find themselves in, trying to take care of young children and aging parents at the same time, or discussed why family leave is so important. There was no serious conversation about domestic violence, substance abuse, or other social needs that affect families.
Instead we were treated to a stage full of lecturing men, determined to ensure women remain in their place: married, subservient, and most certainly not in charge of their bodies or their lives.
While conservative pundits insist the Republicans aren’t waging a “war on women,” it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find anything in their public comments that speak to the challenges most women face every day. That silence speaks volumes.