This is the year of the woman in the US Congress and elsewhere, despite the best efforts of some to make sure that the opposite happened.
This is the year in which the Right Wing carried out the most anti-woman campaign ever since suffrage, or at least, so it would appear, along with a continued attack on non-hetero persons. A defining moment in this campaign occurred in February, when the Republican controlled House carried out a nearly comical hearing on women’s reproductive rights.
Three Democrats walked out of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on religious liberty and the birth control rule on Thursday to protest Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) refusal to allow a progressive woman to testify in favor of the Obama administration’s contraception rule. The morning panel at the hearing consisted exclusively of men from conservative religious organizations.
“…where are the women?” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked Issa before walking out of the hearing after the first panel. “I look at this panel, and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventative health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?”
The progressive woman mentioned was Sandra Fluke, who was shortly to be denigrated by the intellectual leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh. On February 29th, Limbaugh called her a slut on the grounds that she wanted, according to him, the government to subsidize her sex life. Subsequent to this event, we saw Republicans running for their party’s nomination and other Republicans running for various seats in Congress and state legislatures making a series of anti-woman and pro-rape comments. This was the culmination of events over the last two years, when dozens of anti-abortion and other anti-women’s health laws have been proposed, many enacted.
In February, Republican Congressman Ron Paul, while running for President, said of forced sexual intercourse, “If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room, I would give them a shot of estrogen.” It is not clear why. In August, Republican Congressman Todd Akin claimed that in cases of “legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” But apparently, rape does sometimes lead to pregnancy; Republican candidate Richard Mourdock, Indiana, said in October that a pregnancy caused by rape is “something that God intended to happen.”
In October, Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon, Connecticut, said of the problem of health insurance funding morning after pills, “It was really an issue about a Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in in an emergency rape” indicating a confusion over the use of the terms “emergency,” “hospital,” and “church.” And, in a case of confusion of cause, effect, intentionality and more generally the use of verbs, Wisconsin Republican state rep Roger Rivard stated in December 2011, “If you go down that road some girls, they rape so easy.”
Paul Ryan, who came pretty close to becoming the man a heart beat away form the Presidency, along with the aforementioned Todd Akin and 214 other Republicans co-sponsored the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” prohibiting abortions except in instance of an act of forcible rape or incest with a minor.
And so on.
The result of this all out “War on Women” by the Republican party was that it totally backfired. Not only did the head of the ticket fail with the election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but the following also happened:
- 7 of 12 Republicans who made dumb-ass comments about rape and women’s reproductive health lost.
- 2 out of 3 single women who voted this year picked Obama over Romney
- All told, there have been 42 women in cabinet level positions ever. The number under Obama is 20.
- A record 97 women will be in the 113th Congress, of which the vast majority are pro-choice in one form or another.
- New Hampshire will send the first ever in the nation all female Congressional delegation to Washington this year.
- Four states (Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Wisconsin) will send their first female Senators to Washington this year.
- This year’s senate will have its first openly gay person, and first Asian woman. New Hampshire’s state legislature will have the highest elected out transgender person.
- Twenty-nine women of color will serve in this year’s new Congress.
- Of the 184 women who ran for congress this years, half were elected; one in three newly elected members of Congress this year are women.
- Overall, the 113th congress will include the most female members ever.
I, for one, welcome our new female overlords.