Ramona's picture

    Women of GOP Land: What do you see in those men?


    Hello, women of the Republican Party:  Democratic female of the liberal persuasion here.  I know it looks like we couldn't be any farther apart when it comes to ideology, but I know us.  I know when it comes to the big issues--our futures and the well-being of the ones we love--we're sisters under the skin.

    We should talk.  I mean really talk.  I don't mean the usual chit-chat, the talk about kids and work and what's for dinner.  I mean about politics.  When we're together we do everything we can to side-step the issue and it does keep us friendly,  but you must have noticed that the upcoming presidential election is becoming the bull elephant in the room.
    I know you won't want to hear this, and I hear you when you tell me it's none of my business, but for a couple of weeks now I've been especially worried about where you're going with the men in your life.  It strikes not just me but a lot of us that the relationship is becoming, well--abusive.

    At the moment these four men--Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul--are vying for your affections and from where I sit no matter which one you choose it'll be bad news for you. And, okay, if any one of them wins, it'll be bad for me too. But it's you who has to take control of the situation.  When any one of the four tells you he's going to work hard to take away a woman's right to free birth control it's really disheartening for the rest of us to have to watch you applaud and cheer, as if he was God's gift and aren't you lucky to have him?

    At least one of them, Rick Santorum (father of seven, no surprise) doesn't believe in birth control in any form.  He says birth control can actually be "harmful to women", suggesting that it promotes sex outside of procreation, which apparently, even for those of us not still living in Medieval times, is a bad thing:

      "One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.... Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that's okay, contraception is okay. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."

    He blames "radical feminists" for taking women out of the home and into the workplace, yet he's done nothing to help improve the economy enough so that women who want to stay home can stay home.  In his book, "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good," written in 2005, he wrote:  "Sadly the propaganda campaign launched in the 1960s has taken root. The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness."

    Ron Paul, a former OB/GYN and a Libertarian to boot, said, “Forcing private religious institutions to pay for contraception and sterilization as part of their health care plans is a direct assault on the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. On my first day as President, I will reverse this policy.”

    Sexual harassment in the workplace?  No problem, women.  Just quit:

    Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable.

    Newt Gingrich believes strongly in a Personhood Amendment that says life begins at conception--a loony view with ramifications for everything from the Morning After pill to in vitro fertilization.  In his bid to destroy Planned Parenthood he lied when he said the organization's main thrust was performing abortions.  He went so far as to pull a fantastical number out of the air--90% of all services were abortions--when the truer number is three percent out of nearly 5 million visits a year.  In truth, only 34 percent of visits to Planned Parenthood are for reproductive services.

    Mitt Romney wants to cut off contraceptive services at Community Centers as well,  and, if he had his druthers, he would kill Planned Parenthood entirely.  Even after all the evidence to the contrary, he is still trying to convince you that nothing good comes out of Planned Parenthood, when we all know that in so many communities they've become an essential health care lifeline. not just for women of reproductive age, but for men and women of all ages.

    My question is, what is it you see in those men?   When you're out there applauding and encouraging men who want to take womanhood back to the status forced on us even as late as the middle of the 20th century, does it bother you even a little bit that you're egging them on, knowing--because they've told you in every way possible--they want to own every little piece of you?


    Great piece, Ramona. It's an absolute mystery to me how many of these women accede to the misogynistic rhetoric and I think you posed the issue as well as it can be done.  I do know some moderate Republican women who simply don't vote the way their husbands do and hardly keep it a secret. 

    Charles Murray has a new book out, Coming Apart, and he has discussed the phenomenon of lower paid white women raising a child or two who don't get married because they consider the candidates as losers. Of course, the degradation of jobs and earning power for white males is the other side of the picture. 

    I wonder how your moderate Republican women friends will be voting this fall?  I doubt they're going to vote for a Democrat and I don't see anyone else on the horizon.  It would be interesting to get a sense of how those women feel about those candidates.  It must be terrible to be them these days.

    I'll do an "armchair" survey and get back to you. I know they would never vote for Santorum. 

    That would be great.  I would love to see something written by Republican women who are disgusted by what they're seeing this election cycle.  There must be thousands of them out there.  If there aren't, I'm thoroughly demoralized.

    This is a great piece.

    But I am in love with that wood print!

    I think they are Santorums. 

    The wood print is great, isn't it?  I try not to dwell on the subject matter, too long, though.  I've been in that position a few times and one of my three came along without benefit of drugs.  I'll just let you imagine what that must have felt like.

    I am sharing this with some of the Conservative women I know. Thanks, Ramona.

    Be careful, Mr. Smith.  Nobody likes to be told their boyfriends are scum.


    Not to worry, most of them already know it ... and besides, it wouldn't be me saying it, it's you.  I'm just facilitating their enlightenment.  ;-)

    Okay, but you're the messenger.  You know what they do to messengers. . .

    Give them chocolate and the keys to the city? 

    Give them the keys to the city if you like, but If you've got chocolate and you want to be my friend, you'll send it to me ASAP.

    That we are debating contraception in 2012 is as distressing that we were debating torture a few years back.  But your blog, while I agree with your view, ignores the very real cultural view of the conservatives. 

    I will say that if the conservatives push this issue of contraceptives now that Obama has made his compromise, they will get punished in the election by the moderate Republicans. 

    At the same time, there are many who still hold the traditional view of the patriarchy.  I find it distressing, but there it is.  Approaching the argument as if your viewpoint is clearly the obvious viewpoint of any decent and rational human being is as cultural insensitive as walking into an Afghan village and telling them to let women to be equal to men.

    In many ways we are no further along that when Betty Friedman plopped The Feminist Mystique into the lap of American culture.  In other ways, things have changed radically from those days, as I wrote about in a blog about the fall of the alpha male.  It is these two countering forces which is causing, in great part, women who still hold to the traditional views to double down on the patriarchic imperative.

    Really?  You're comparing American women, or at least Republican women, to Afghan women?  These are not women living in the mountains, isolated from all other society, under the thumb of men and fearing for their very lives. 

    We're talking about women who, more likely than not, work outside their homes, have their own cars, their own money, have had an education at least at the high school level,  and aren't afraid in the least to articulate their feelings about religion, politics and any other hot button issue.

    Wouldn't the men in their lives love to jump on your "culturally insensitive" bandwagon.  It just doesn't fly.  Not in America.  You're right that there are many men who are trying like hell to keep their women down, but outside of the Catholic Church and a few fringe "churches", those numbers are small. 

    There are millions of female Republican voters.  Very few of them, I venture, believe in a "traditional patriarchy".  The majority are anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-Big Government, anti-any religion but Christian.  It would take a miracle to change any of that.  It won't happen.  But the least they can do is explain their choices in the face of so much evidence that this stable of candidates is out to do them wrong. 

    That's all I'm asking.


    I am not comparing the situation of women in America to those in Afghanistan.  I am comparing the embracing of one's culture between those in America to those in Afghanistan.  Your blog, again as much as I agree with your viewpoint, treats those women who hold the differing view as either dupes or idiots.  Which one is entitled to do, but it ain't going to change things.  In fact, such an attitude will generally cause those on the other side to entrench themselves even deeper.  I mean, who wants to admit they're a dupe or an idiot. 

    The point of bringing up the Afghan village (I could have gone with the African tribal practice of genitalia mutilation which is generally carried out by women on young girls) was to highlight the notion if one hopes to changes their viewpoint one has to accept their view as legitimate viewpoint.  This is, of course, difficult to do when one believes the opposite. And such an acceptance can be seen as an affirmation of those views, but it is not.

    Very few of them, I venture, believe in a "traditional patriarchy".  The majority are anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-Big Government, anti-any religion but Christian.

    Living in the Bible belt, I can say that for many folks Christianity and the patriarchy walk hand in hand.  It is one of the primary means that the patriarchy is able to sustain itself.While one can be a Christian and not believe in the need of the patriarchy, it is a fundamental facet threaded through most of the denomination (we can start with "My Father who is in Heaven and go from there...and why didn't God send his only daughter to be sacrificed).  The anti-abortion and anti-gay facets are direct branches of Christianity.

    So while most women in this country will not say that women need to be subservient to men, they embrace a cultural paradigm which embraces the imperative of the heterosexual patriarchy.  It is not accident that women still struggle to achieve an equal status on the national political stage.

    Idiots?  No, I wouldn't say that.  But dupes?  Sure.  I think that's what my entire blog post is pointing out.  But do you seriously think that I think one blog post is going to turn even one of those women around?  I would be shocked.

    Still, it had to be said and I said it.  There it is.

    I don't think any one of us here believe one blog post is going to turn things around. But since your blog post took the style of a direct address to those women on the 'other side,' I think one's attitude towards one's audience is important.  Or just as important, and more to my point, the attitude as perceived by those of the audience.

    I don't have to tell you that globally and historically the patriarchy has been dominant and more often than not oppressive.  And for the most part women as often as men willingly participated in it - for all where raised in the culture, which perpetuates itself through the reiterates itself through the people.

    To call those who embody and perpetuate their culture as dupes misses the point.  All those women of the Middle East are the dupes.  All those women in Eastern cultures are dupes.  Are those women in Africa are dupes.  And so on. 

    Just because one might have higher expectations of those born in this country I suppose says something in favor of the 'Western' culture, for all its faults.

    Not to nit-pick, but "Our Father" is the prayer, "My Father", is how Christ speaks of his Dad.   And while we're on the subject of dupes, don't forget the Dupe of Earl, Dupe Ellington and Brooklyn Dodger outfielder, Dupe Snyder. 

    And remember, women are only women, but a good cigar causes cancer of the mouth and gums ... But never mind that. 



    And Daisy Dupe.

    Maybe it is a nitpick - the point it is "father" and not "mother" - whether it is our father or my father or your father.  And of course there is the whole thing about how we reduce our gods to a level which we, as a society, can relate to, like mother and father.  We cannot understand a spiritual begetting without relating it to a biological begetting.  So why does it have to be a father or a mother.  Maybe because we don't know the words for something which is neither father nor mother.  That which is not-Father and not-Mother.  But maybe I'm just taking all of this too seriously when all everyone wants to do is beat up on the conservatives.

    Trope, I chose my words carefully.  I stand by them.  I wrote this woman-to-woman.  It could be that it's you who doesn't get it.

    First, I assume you chose your words carefully.  Otherwise, what would be the point of responding to your comments.

    Second, since I am a man, there are experiences specific to women of which I cannot understand.  This is also true of Vietnam vets and an nearly infinite group of other individuals who have experienced life through a prism which I cannot access.  This does not mean there is a commonality among all humanity which allows us to cross those boundaries of experience.  The moment we discount the comments of others because they don't belong to our "group," is the moment all dialogue stops. 

    If you are not black, then you must stop commenting on all issues related to the black experience in this country.

    If you are not Mormon, then you must stop commenting on all issues related to the Mormon experience.

    If you are...you get my point.

    I may not get it.  But to imply that I don't get simply because I am man seems strange when I as a man agree with your viewpoint when so many women in this country disagree with you.  Now there is a riddle.

    Trope, I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't comment here.  Not at all.  I value your comments both here and elsewhere on dag.  And I'm certainly not saying men shouldn't have a voice on this issue. 

    What I am addressing is your insistence that while I may have said something you agree with, I've done it all wrong.  I don't happen to agree.  Hence the woman-to-woman comment.  It's not to leave you out of the conversation, it's simply to say you have your point of view and, as a woman, I have mine.  This is how I chose to talk to them and if you found it insensitive, I'm sorry.  To tell the truth, the way I feel about this, I thought I did a pretty good job of concealing my intense, almost insane anger at them.

    If there is something I am probably hyper-sensitive about these days is the way we choose to talk to those we disagree with.  I am willing to admit that maybe I am off-base with your and anybody else's matter of approach.  The key point I think is that we can choose two routes: either we can find a way to convert the "other" through discourse or we just bludgeon the other with a 2x4.  I of course still have faith in the former route, and, consequently, believe the exact way we choose to convey our thoughts and beliefs is of upmost importance.

    We can disagree whether one way phrasing a thought is better than the other in terms of facilitating the epiphany in the other.   But that our goal is the same - to create that epiphany.  Sometime, a common facet of life and experience, such as gender, allows one a better inside track to what that "better" phraseology will be.  Sometime it may be another facet in which one does not share with the individual.  A former Mormon male may have a better chance of getting through to Mormon female than a Catholic or Jewish female.

    You have done a pretty good job of hiding your rage.  But I suppose part of my point is that you shouldn't be feeling rage - in the sense that one should feel rage towards anybody who believes in a way they were taught since birth to believe. 


    that you shouldn't be feeling rage - in the sense that one should feel rage towards anybody who believes in a way they were taught since birth to believe.

    This would be an excellent topic for a blog post.  hint.


    The key point I think is that we can choose two routes: either we can find a way to convert the "other" through discourse or we just bludgeon the other with a 2x4.

    Whoa. I didn't realize the 2x4 was a choice. I might just have to rethink my approach…

    You keep narrowing this down to the women you know in the bible belt who have been conditioned since birth to let men make even the most life-changing decisions for them. 

    I don't believe for a minute that all Republican women, or even Tea Party women, fit that slot.  I know too many pro-"life" women who could tear their men to shreds if they wanted to. 

    But I have to tell you, Trope, you're getting dangerously close to being the guy who thinks he has to tell the little woman how to behave.

    I've thought a lot about how exactly to respond to this because I don't want to be misunderstood - although as a post-structuralist I tend to believe this an impossible dream.  

    But to the charge that I'm "getting dangerously close to being the guy who thinks he has to tell the little woman how to behave," I would only say that I have commented in the same manner as I always have to any blogger or commenter regarding whatever issue may be at hand.  Sometimes this manner comes across as (or is) arrogant. In the end, all of us are telling each other our opinion about what we think the other should believe or behave or whatever.  In this general sense, none of it has anything to do with gender.  Of course, everything has to do with gender.

    And while I have thought a lot about how to answer this, trying to be concise alludes me.  In the end, I am just wrangling with my comments and my intentions behind them being reduced to some  kind desire to reinforce the patriarchy.

    We can disagree about how to converse with the "GOP women" who continue to support their "GOP men" and embrace a culture that leads those on the other side to perceive them as being dictated to regarding the big decisions.  But I find it a little disheartening that as soon as the disagreement arises- the sexist card is thrown at me. 

    Sexist haiku deleted. 

    Tell you what, Trope, you stop using terms like "post-structuralist" (whatever the hell that means) and maybe I'll be able to understand you better.  Your comments focus entirely on how I treated those GOP women.  I gave you my reasons for doing it the way I did.  You still think I was rude.

    I don't care.

    Come on Trope, really? I am feeling some rage about this whole anti-woman crusade of the GOP, and I think that I not only have the right to feel rage, but that is can do us some good. Both Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have clearly rejected the Republican jihad against womyn..  Plus there is this, even though many men support womyn and our quest to keep government from making decisions about our bodies, this is an issue that is exclusively our issue. This affects us and our daughters and our granddaughters directly, it affects our health. Our bodies are once again under attack. I think Ramona's tone is fine and we get to feel some rage over this, because it seems there are many men in congress who continue to believe they can score political points by continuing to politicize RH. That just isn't an acceptable anymore.

    We as women are quite used to being told  to sit back, don't be so mad, take the right tone, etc and so on, but we don't live in medieval America it is the 21st century. Standing up for ourselves is essential, otherwise nothing changes and a little rage on our part can help push the nation towards change.

    My comments were not about how people should express how they feel about this issue.  They are about persuading those who operate through a different paradigm.  Standing up to oppression is different than persuading the oppressors that they are indeed oppressing, although from time to time standing up might end up persuading. 

    But isn't it more productive to do some fact finding in order to discover specifically what their basis is for their stance?  To do that, don't you have to enter into discussion and exchange viewpoints?  In my experience, if done in a positive manner this more oft produces benefits that simply 'standing up to' - which is most perceived as being us v. them and immediately creates hostility as opposed to 'you show me yours and I'll show you mine'.  Let's see if we have any common ground. 

    It's putting in place the option of changing the probable of negative reaction into positive actions. 


    To tell the truth, the way I feel about this, I thought I did a pretty good job of concealing my intense, almost insane anger at them.

    Indeed, 'woman-to-woman' - a post well done.   Thanks.

    My intense, almost insane anger I must admit tho' is even greater towards women who 'go along to get along' without regard for the consequences suffered by all as a result -IMO- of their refusing to exert even a modicum of (multiple choice) a.) common sense b.) independence c.) courage d.) intelligence e.) rationality.

    Absolutely, Aunt Sam.  Any woman who can sit back and watch these men get bolder and bolder as they describe what life for women is going to be like when they get the power, deserves all the anger we can muster.  But to be out there cheering them on--for those women I reserve a special kind of rage.

    You and I were both around when women were struggling for the equality that should have been ours from the very beginning.  I'm not about to sit back and watch it disappear again.  

    When a Neanderthal like Rick Santorum rises up in the polls and has a good chance of winning the presidency, all bets are off.  We come out fighting or we'll lose it all.


    It's apparent we're all still struggling.  For equality in all life's arenas and within our own ranks. 

    Always value your messages and efforts.  Please don't ever stop delivering both.

    Thank you, Aunt Sam.  And likewise.  I'm glad you're here.

    Yes, as disappointing as it may be, there are women out there who champion male dominance, at least in theory. Witness Bachmann's claim that she would still be subservient to her husband if she became President.

     MIchele Bachmann was obviously playing to the Religious Right when she said that, and it probably hurt her.  It might have impressed a small group of subservient women , and it may even have impressed a whole mess of men who really, sincerely want their wives to be their slaves, but those men would seriously not vote for a woman for president and those few women who do whatever their captors tell them to do wouldn't vote for her either.

    The rest saw a woman clearly not ready for prime-time and a bad liar, at that.  She was a U.S. Senator when she said it.  You don't get that far by being subservient to anybody.

    I think you're right in your assessment about Michele Bachmann (on all facets), but at the same time, consider this from Gallup:

    A year ago, Gallup found more women calling themselves pro-choice than pro-life, by 50% to 43%, while men were more closely divided: 49% pro-choice, 46% pro-life. Now, because of heightened pro-life sentiment among both groups, women as well as men are more likely to be pro-life.

    Now, granted, this is about abortion and not contraception, and I concur that support for an anti-contraception position is no doubt much weaker (among men and women). However, it does seem to indicate that a plurality of women are in favor of at least some government intervention into telling women what they can do with their bodies.

    I have no doubt those new figures are true.  That's what scares me about all this.  The Tea Party views are consistently pro-"life" and the Right, including their elected officials and billionaire backers, are hammering that POV home. 

    That's why Newtie feels safe in advocating "birth begins at conception" and Santorum gets a push even though he believes all contraception should be banned. 

    It's a bellwether for  stronger (and more accepted) religious involvement in government business and unless we're willing to go along with that, we'd better be working hard to turn this around.

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