The fight for the women’s vote ramped up this week when Michele Bachmann officially declared her run for the presidency. The Tea Party founder is pro-family, anti-government, and has proclaimed herself the champion of women everywhere. We beg to differ.
She’s just one of the guys, she told Daily Beast writer Kirsten Powers:
“I’m a woman comfortable in her own skin. I grew up with three brothers. My parents didn’t see us [as] limited [by gender]. I would mow the lawn and take out the trash; I was making my own fishing lures. I went along with everything the boys did.”
Just don’t call her a feminist, she told Powers. Clearly.
The opening salvos in the battle for our hearts and minds were fired a few weeks back when DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the Republicans out for their war on women. To which Bachmann told a New Hampshire reporter that Democrats were
“terribly afraid of a Michele Bachmann candidacy for president of the United States,” said Bachmann. “Democrats see themselves with group politics quite often, they’ll see that they think they should own certain minorities or ethnicities or that they should own women. That’s not true.”
Instead, Bachmann asserted that women are paying attention to economic issues, such as the rising gas and grocery prices.
You know what’s coming, right? The creepy idea that, issues notwithstanding, we’ll vote for a woman because, you know, we are one. That we’re so dumb that we’ll vote against our own interests just because the candidate wears a skirt. Or proclaims herself pro-family.
It’s insulting at best. (Why is it, again, that a man is allowed to vote on the issues, while a woman must vote according to chromosomes?) Dangerous at worst. When it comes to issues that really matter to women – and their families — a skirt does not a woman make. Neither does a tea party.
Don’t get us wrong. We think women come in many stripes and colors. And yet. There are a certain number of bedrock issues you’d assume any Double Xer would support, mainly because these are issues that affect us all.
Just for the hell of it, let’s take Bachmanns’ position on defunding Planned Parenthood, which she once called “the LensCrafter of big abortion.” What often gets lost when the debate centers on abortion is this: Planned Parenthood is a prime provider of health care for women who can’t afford it. I know of one woman, in fact, whose life may have been saved by Planned Parenthood. She discovered a lump in her breast shortly after losing her work-related health insurance. Where did she turn for a mammogram? Yep, Planned Parenthood, which ultimately shepherded her through the scary process of not only the diagnostics, but ultimately surgery, chemo and radiation.
And while we’re on the subject of health care, there’s this. Who suffered most under our health care system of old? Women. And when women suffer, it’s often the kids who pay the price. So much for those family values. Let’s recall a few things we may have forgotten about our old health care system that would be back in business if Bachmann and others succeed in repealing Obama’s health care overhaul, which, incidentally, has been estimated to save $140 billion over the next ten years. Pregnancy: pre-existing condition. Women: statistically more likely to work part-time jobs (so they can care for their kids) that do not provide benefits. Sure, it’s all peachy for ladies who can depend on well-employed husbands for heath care benefits. But what if he loses his job? Hard to afford COBRA on a part time salary. Or no salary. Or even one salary, for that matter.
And what if she’s a single mother? Sorry, kids. No doc for you…
Should we go on? Let’s. Back when the bill was first being debated, USA Today provided a cheat sheet for the ways in which the old health care system discriminated against women:
- insurance companies are allowed to charge women more for the same policies as men in 40 states and the District of Columbia;
- in those same states and D.C., insurance companies can charge businesses with mostly female employees higher group rates;
- many companies don’t provide maternity coverage as part of their basic plans;
- insurance companies can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions; having had a C-section is one of them;
- if a woman is pregnant when she buys an insurance company, insurance companies can deny maternity coverage;
- 8 states and D.C. allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence.
There’s more, but those are the highlights of healthcare coverage for women who had insurance. But what about the ones who didn’t? Or their kids? You do the math.
Obviously, health care isn’t the only issue that affects women or families. How about the fact that women still make 77 cents to a man’s buck for the same work? Or that the ERA has never been passed? Or the fact that for many women, affordable child care is nothing but a pipe dream because we’ve never made it a priority? But again, what about the families we care so much about? What happens to the kids when mom and dad can’t get a job, or when a single mother can’t find anyone to watch her kids? Or the fact that the workplace is still set up for an employee with someone at home to take care of business — and pick up the kids before the day care center closes. Now that the 40 hour workweek equals 52, there aren’t enough hours in the day for any of us to meet the demands of both work and family without, well, going postal. Which is why so many women, who still own the second shift, dial back their careers when kids come along. Which is fine, so long as there is a spouse in the picture to bring home the bacon – and the health insurance – and that said spouse is guaranteed to have a job in the morning. Maybe this is all stuff that small-town communities, big-hearted bosses and god-fearing families can fix without government intervention. But how has that worked out for us so far?
There’s more that gets our goat, not the least of which is the fact that Bachmann is in favor of killing the EPA (so much for Mother Earth), has opposed tax deductions for breast pumps designed to encourage breast feeding among poor women, and favors spending cuts (that could disproportionately hurt the poor) and is against tax increases (that could disproportionately hurt the rich).
Thing is, parity is important. Absolutely. We want equal representation in government, in business, in life. But when it comes to those who make the policy or run the show, let’s face it: Men vote on the issues, not the pants. Same with us. It’s the issues, not the skirts. A woman who can’t-slash-won’t support women’s issues? Fail.