Tina Dupuy: Republican women: Seen but not in power
I blame feminism for why I feel entitled to equal rights. I have no qualms seeing the toil and struggle of my foremothers allowing me opportunities not available to them.
For example, my generation doesn’t have to be married. This is the product of our mothers’ saber rattling. Being married is no longer necessary; now it’s a choice. And with a choice, there’s leverage and you get to negotiate your own terms. Free market!
Because of federal legislation, specifically the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 ensuring single women could obtain their own credit card, we can now be financially independent. It’s not just Roe v. Wade, it’s women demanding birth control access and informed health care decisions. It’s women lobbying for gender parity and equal protections.
Due to feminist victories, this country has changed. Our mores have changed. Women have changed. Marriage has changed.
Nothing illustrates the quagmire this has made for Republicans more than Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s campaign for the GOP nomination for president. Bachmann stated in a speech in 2006 that she hated taxes but studied tax law in order to be “submissive to her husband.” During the primary, at a debate in Iowa, she was asked if she were president would she, in fact, be submissive to her husband. The question drew boos from the crowd, but it was on point: She was running to be commander-in-chief, but claimed to have this conservative traditional Christian marriage. For women to be the Republican ideal, they have to be unqualified to be president.
It’s a weird balancing act. Republican women are required to enjoy the fruits of feminism while championing every force that’s ever opposed it. This was made clear when Sarah Palin was tapped to be the first-ever female GOP veep candidate. Members of her own party criticized her for running for office with such young children. Palin tried out the short-lived phrase “conservative feminism,” which is up there with giant shrimp and authentic copy.
It’s an impossible standard for female Republican politicians: They have to be coy and a leader; feminine and effective; homemaker and career woman; traditional and radical feminist pioneers.
Republicans have lost battles in the war on women they initially (and unsuccessfully) launched as a war on religion. They have a woman problem. They have also maintained the majority in the House. How do these two things mesh up? The Speaker of the House chose committee chairs that are all men. A sea of white Grand Old Party dudes.
This illustrates the dichotomy of gender equality for Republicans: They want women to vote for them; they want to say they have women in their caucus; they want women to be Republicans; but they clearly don’t prefer them as leaders.
Before the GOP committee chair choices looked like the mug shot lineup for a white middle-aged groping suspect, this wasn’t as obvious, but now it’s undeniable: Republicans treat Republican women like tokens. Palin was used as an “us too” shield combating a diverse Democratic ticket. Just like Governors Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez get mentioned as a comeback to the criticism of a way too homogeneous party.
Brian Kilmeade, host of “Fox and Friends,” summed up the Republican opinion on women perfectly. When asked how Fox News, the entertainment wing of the Republican party, finds such stunning conservative stars to be on their network, Kilmeade offered, “We go into the Victoria’s Secret catalogue and we said, ‘Can any of these people talk?’”
Binders full ... of women.
Tina Dupuy is managing editor of Crooks and Liars. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.