It Turns Out Declaring War On Women Is Not Such A Successful Election Strategy
Who’d’ve thunk?! Suggesting that pregnancy from rape is “God’s will,” that some rape is “legitimate” while other rape is not, and saying a woman’s body has “a way of shutting the whole thing down” so pregnancy does not occur from rape DOES NOT MAKE WOMEN WANT TO VOTE FOR YOU. Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin may have found two women — including one who was raped and had an abortion — to appear in a campaign ad proclaiming him the second coming of Gloria Steinem, but the rest of us ladies were not buying it.
The cheer in my heart is not just because “the bad people” lost. It’s because for one of the first times in my adult life, I am sensing that millions of other people are on the same page as me when it comes to supporting women’s full and equal participation in society. To call yourself a feminist in 2012 is to constantly hear that “feminism isn’t needed anymore,” “feminism is off-putting,” and “I’m not a feminist, but …” As much as I care about embracing and promoting the label itself, that kind of wasn’t the point this election. The point this election was for everyone to understand that, look, these wealthy, white men do not believe in abortion or fair pay, think God chose for you to be raped, and do not even understand basic biology of women’s bodies. We deserve better than this. YOU deserve better than this.
And as Election Day proved with the defeat of Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin (and numerous other anti-abortion candidates who weren’t quite on the radar), Americans resoundingly agreed. In Indiana, exit polling showed a telling gender gap: women supported Mourdock’s opponent (who, it’s worth mentioning, is also anti-choice), but men were “deadlocked” between the two. In Missouri, Mitt Romney won the state but voters preferred the Democrat Claire McCaskill over Akin — in other words, no party line voting there. As journalist Irin Carmon put it on Salon.com this morning, women did “not [back] down, or away from, reproductive rights and women’s autonomy.”
The “War On Women” may have been dismissed by Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan as bullshit, as unreasonable as a “war on left-handed Irishmen.” But this election showed us that women and men will not take politicians at face value when they claim to look out for us. Their words matter, their actions matter, and our trust — and votes — must be earned.