If one follows the behavior of Republican law-makers over the last several years, a pattern soon emerges: most of their policies tend to limit women’s rights, in an overt or clear way. And one cannot but wonder about what prompts this negative behavior. Are they, perhaps, unaware of it or, more pointedly, it reflects their deep-rooted prejudices against women?
The recent Republicans’ misdeeds in the path leading to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court are telling. Led by Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary chair (a man from whom I certainly wouldn’t buy a used car) the Republican legislators used every possible subterfuge to try to assure the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. And they did that despite important evidence that, in his youth, Brett Kavanaugh committed abusive sexual acts against defenseless women.
However, this behavior is not new. For decades the Republicans’ actions have gone against women’s rights and wishes. The term “war on women,” was originally used by feminist author Andrea Dworkin in 1989. In a 1996 memoir entitled The Republican War Against Women: An Insider’s Report from Behind the Lines, Tanya Melich, a former Republican political consultant, wrote about the incorporation of the pro-life movement and the opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment by Republicans as diverging from feminist causes and concerns.
In February 2011, New York Representative Jerrold (Jerry) Nadler, stated that the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would have allowed only victims of “forcible rape” or child sex abuse to qualify for Medicaid funding for abortion, was “an entirely new front in the war on women and their families.” The words “war on women” gained increasing acceptance and were afterward more widely used since they accurately reflect mostly Republican legislators’ actions regarding women rights.
Also in February 2011, several Democrats used those words to describe the Republican Party, after House Republicans passed legislation to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, the women’s rights organization. A 2011 Kansas statute cut funding to this organization, and Indiana Republican Representative referred to the Girl Scouts of the USA as a tactical arm of the Planned Parenthood organization.
In 2012, the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which provides funds for community prevention programs and battered women’s shelters, was strongly opposed by conservative Republicans. Former Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, who had previously voted against renewal of the act, said that the bill was a “distraction” from a small business bill.
Republican legislators have repeatedly denied that there is a war on women, and insist that this is a gimmick to influence women voters. Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s Governor, said in 2012, “There is no war on women. Women are doing well.” With predictable insouciance Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives made fun of the war on women saying, “Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that.”
How else, however, to qualify mostly Republican opposition to all kinds of women rights, even when their health and well being is at stake? Even Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski asked her fellow party members “go home and talk to your wife and daughters” if you think that there is no war on women.
What is evident is that Republicans legislators, for the most part, are against legislation that protects women and respect their rights. What their policies show is a deep disregard for women over several years. Why do Republicans hate women? The obvious explanation is that they try to adhere to their long-held conservative convictions. The most plausible reason, however, is that Republican legislators have no wives, nor daughters.