March 16, 2012

Republicans, conservatives and misogyny

This entire contraceptives battle has revealed an underlying misogyny that I didn't anticipate. Abortion, I understood, even as I disagreed with many. There has always been this deep discomfort with abortion in the American populace--a broad and shared sense that abortion is tragic and should be avoided if possible, but also a belief that it should be an option.

But there have always been those who were on the anti-abortion side, so it didn't surprise me that the pendulum swing against abortion sided to the conservative under Republican led states. I wasn't surprised at that. I was surprised, however, that the anti-abortion side started going so far as the "personhood" bills, but not that they went after abortion.

But the contraception angle is different. And reveals an underlying misogyny that I find deeply troubling. The defense is "religious liberty," but it dawned on me today that I don't find that convincing in the least. First of all, those crying "religious freedom" the loudest are the Catholics (makes sense) and the conservative evangelical base of the Republican party (makes less sense). That last group doesn't actually believe in religious liberty--not for others, at least. They are the heirs to the Puritan mentality where religious freedom was about their own approach, and was not for Quakers or Catholics or Baptists.

Historically, this group has never cared about Catholic freedoms, and has, in fact, often argued that Catholicism is either a cult or simply not truly Christian. Their adoration of Mary, the fixation on the cross, and, even, their opposition to contraception--Protestants have opposed (vocally) all of these aspects of Catholicism. And protestants have not historically opposed contraception. Abortion? Maybe. Depends. But not contraception.

And let's not forget that this group is part of the vocal and angry opposition to the supposed mosque in New York, as well as opposing the construction of mosques throughout the country. Their chant then was not "religious freedom," but "don't build that here."

Yet, they are now claiming religious freedom for a belief they don't hold. There are two possible explanations. One, is that they just instinctively oppose anything that Obama supports. That is part of this, I don't deny. But the other part, and the more shameful one, is that they have always been a little anti-women. This is the group pushing "submission" and decrying women clergy. This is the group that has opposed feminism and called female employment a "sickness" and an effort to undermine the family. And this is part of a larger group that referred to sexually active young men as "boys will be boys," but saw sexually active young women as "harlots," if not "sluts."

At some point many in this group will realize that this attack on women harms their own interests--and harms their mothers, sisters, daughters and wives. But until then, they will continue the lie that they are standing on some religious freedom principle. But that is a lie.

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