On one hand, it is fantastically amusing to watch the GOP paint themselves into a tiny little corner in the 2012 election with a lovely shade of Misogyny Red.
On the other hand, it is fantastically depressing to see that birth control is still up for debate in the year 2012. In fact, when discussing this with my mother (a Catholic woman who is not the most sexually enlightened on the planet), she bemusedly said, “I really thought we put this issue to rest back in the 1970′s, what were we fighting for?” Indeed, mom.
What has been lost in all this talk of sluttery, how to fund the sometimes-expensive Pill and whether women want people to “pay them for having sex,” so much about the impact of this very basic female issue has been lost. While Americans hold a vast range of opinions about the subject, what cannot be ignored is that the biggest deciding factor in whether a woman can be economically independent and thrive is whether she can control the number and timing of the children she has.
To put this another way, before you start banging on about “responsibility” and keeping one’s legs closed (a loathsome expression invoked by Santorum supporter Foster Friess), consider that for every unplanned pregnancy, a female is only 50% responsible for the resultant child. While you may excoriate single mothers on welfare or Medicaid, note that for every single mother that exists, there is a father that has not taken responsibility for the child he has created.
So while some of these women may be irresponsible, the men who were half as responsible for the situation are nowhere to be found. And this is doubly true if you oppose abortion- by your rationale, a woman should not have one, and the man with whom she created a child should thusly step up to the plate and be a man and a father. This often does not happen. Yet no similar outrage is heaped upon men for daring to get laid without wrapping their cheese first.
One can only conclude that the responsible thing is to make sure birth control is affordable, accessible, and available to every woman in America in order to reduce the number of people on welfare as well as the abortion rate. And as women, we should all be concerned about our capability to control when and if we become mothers.
But, according to South Carolina governor and GOP pretty princess Nikki Haley, women are not at all worried about the fact that a single instance of sex can derail their education, career or family permanently. There is this idea that birth control is solely the domain of Girls Gone Wild, but in reality, basically every woman between the ages of 18 and 45 has to keep a close eye on the issue.
Even happily married mothers have to be aware of whether fulfilling their wifely duties could result in the addition of another child to their family, obliterating the quality of life their current children have. And in rough economic times like this, many women can’t afford the $30-50 a month birth control costs without insurance or insurance coverage of the prescriptions, which is all anyone wants.
But Haley believes that the idea that women are bothered by removing contraceptive access is totally wrong. Appearing on The View, she sniffed:
“All of my policy is not based on a labe. It’s based on what I’ve lived and what I know: Women don’t care about contraception. They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families and all of those things.”
Co-host Joy Behar dissented, and Haley clarified:
“…that’s not the only thing they care about. The media wants to talk about contraception. … While we care about contraception, let’s be clear. All we’re saying is we don’t want government to mandate when we have to have it and when we don’t. We want to be able to make that decision.”
To steal a line from Bill Maher, right. We all remember Barack Obama’s “Everyone Must Don a NuvaRing and Give It Up to Sigma Beta Phi Pledge During Rush Week Act” of 2011. Haley’s words are typical of the GOP’s subtle attempts to continually mislead low-information voters- as if simply putting Ortho Tri-Cyclen on the same level as Viagra somehow will force your teenage daughter to lose her virginity to a Hot Topic employee in the back of a rickety Jetta.
Haley’s lies on The View not only do a disservice to every woman of childbearing age, they ignore the fact that women who can plan procreation make, on average, 8% more than their counterparts who don’t have access to the Pill. This is not just significant for women, misogynists- it means we all benefit by larger wage packets being earned by women who subsequently don’t need to rely on society as much to make up the shortfall. The NYT goes on to say that women who had early Pill access were able to achieve “greater hourly wages throughout their twenties and the premium grew to a statistically significant 20 percent at ages 30 to 49.”
To wit, women without access to contraception they can afford are unfairly absorbing on the lion’s share of the societal effects of raising children, while men who engage in the same exact behavior suffer literally zero consequences for it. And women like Nikki Haley are happy to ignore their own individual privilege and throw poorer females under the bus to curry favor among voters who are facts and stats-resistant.