Desperation drives divisive “War on Women” narrative
August 25, 2012 Leave a comment
The Todd Akin controversy has buoyed Democrats’ “War on Women” narrative to a prominence not seen since last winter. But even prior to Representative Akin’s “legitimate rape” utterance, the party and its allies have been stoking an unfounded fear that Republicans are out to take women’s reproductive rights away.
Consider this 30 second Moveon.org TV spot from a couple weeks ago. Go ahead and click, it’s a must-see. The theme is class war, but there’s an out-of-the-blue jab about birth control at the end. If the NRA is guilty of drumming up a fear of “gun grabbers,” MoveOn.org has one-upped them with the invention of the “pill grabber.” The childish tone and groundless substance of the ad–it cites a recent, highly speculative Tax Policy Center study–insult the intelligence of all but the most ardent leftists.
Another ad from early August, approved by President Obama, features a montage of women who “think” Romney is “out of touch” and “extreme.” One chides, “this is not the 1950’s.” All the while a wind instrument registers gentle yet overwrought notes of concern. A woman concludes the ad by saying “I think Romney would definitely drag us back.” With these words, what else can the viewer envision but a grunting troglodyte, club in hand, taking women forcibly to his patriarchal cave?
And now with the Akin kerfuffle, Sandra Fluke has egged on Obama supporters with the idea that Romney and Ryan are in “lockstep” with the Missouri Representative. But this allegation cannot stand after a Factcheck.org refutation of a recent Obama “Truth Team” claim.
Yet a real undercurrent of popular fear exists. We glimpse it in Virginia Heffernan’s recent piece on Akin’s comments. She offers this take on John Edward’s divisive “two Americas” rhetoric:
The twist is that in this election year one America is female and the other male. In the female one, rape—nonconsensual sex as designated by the party that didn’t give consent—is everywhere, wrecking lives and making sexual harmony impossible. In the male America, “rape” is a subject of jokes and pontification. It’s a trope to be employed wantonly with the boys and judiciously when you’re trying to seduce women.
Herein Heffernan amalgamates the gross offense of comedian Daniel Tosh with that of politician Todd Akin. She condemns American men to the prevalent stereotype of the perennial adolescent. Anything they say on the matter of rape must be a joke or mere “pontification.” For the sake of civil discourse, we must refuse the implication that race, sex, or any other status can on its own disqualify one’s views from consideration.
For those who would transcend sensationalism in an attempt to understand what Akin said, The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto has shed some light. Here at least is an effort by a brave man to do more than call Akin’s remarks “antediluvian” or reflexively blame “junk science.” Taranto does better to label the doomed Senatorial candidate “Middle Ages Man.”
Make no mistake. Akin went beyond his ken of understanding and properly merited a massive rebuke from his own party. Given the swift and wide disowning this week, is there really some greater malevolent shadow at work among men, Republicans, or whoever else Democrats have being pointing fingers at?
The AP has been excessively charitable in interpreting Democrats’ fear-based, divide-and-conquer strategy as “pointillist” in nature. But when the party and those who imbibe their views regularly invoke images of cavemen, boorish adolescents, and pill grabbers, it’s not out of line to conclude that, far from “Hope and Change,” it is desperation that drives today’s Democratic party.