Between 2012's Race to the Dark Ages Republican primary contest, dozens of new laws designed to punish and humiliate women who choose to have abortions, and the bizarre debate over which women deserve protection from violence under the Violence Against Women Act, it's pretty clear that if the old men who serve as elected in officials in this country have either serendipitously or deliberately waged an effort to limit women's rights and choices. But if you ask women, nothing's amiss at all. Only 1 in 3 think that there's a coordinated effort on the part of conservatives to push them out of the boardroom and back into the kitchen. War on Women, meet the War on Reality.
Kaiser's May 2012 poll focused on the sort of private-made-public issues that have probably been driving your blood pressure up for the last few months (abortion restrictions, forced ultrasounds, conservative pandering, liberal counterpandering, men complaining to Congress that women exercising their rights was a violation of their religious freedom, the Violence Against Some Women Act, opposition to fair pay, contraception-related slut shaming, shame shaming, shame slutting, etc). Pollsters asked women how they felt about all the fuckery that's been going on over the last year, whether they think there's a "wide-scale effort to limit women's reproductive health choices and services, such as abortion, family planning, and contraception." Only 31% said that they agreed that a conspiracy was afoot. A full 45% said that gee gosh by golly, it sure seemed like there was a lot of lady related stuff going on, but that it's all probably just unrelated, independent stuff not tied to any central group or long-term strategy.
Political action doesn't just spring fully formed from the poorly coifed heads of state legislators; it's born in think tanks and spread by groups like ALEC and AUL and other lobbying organizations, and pimped to the public by attractive strategists and pundits on both sides of the aisle. The law sausage isn't made locally! There's a big sausage factory in the middle of it all shipping their prefab tubed meats to various locations, and each location is smacking their label on it and saying it was made right there in the backyard! If the last two years' smattering of state women's health-related legislation was food, it wouldn't be from scratch Julia Child shit. It's semi homemade with Sandra Lee!
The conspiracy is real! Real I say! Hey, stop trying to remove my tinfoil hat! I need this to keep the space rays out of my head!
Seriously, though, it's dismaying how uncritical (and consequently ignorant) people are of the very basics of the political process — when hundreds of bills that sound very similar sprout up in all different locations at all different levels of government, Occam's razor tells us that they weren't the result of conservatives tapping into some divine anti-abortion rights Oversoul. And groups who draft and disseminate legislation don't make their long-term agendas a secret. The people waging the War on Women may not think that they're attacking women (from a paternalistic perspective, they're "helping" and "protecting" us), but the laws we've seen introduced and enacted since the Tea Party takeover in 2011 have most assuredly been the result of a concerted effort. That's not rabid paranoid speculation; that's a fact.
But not all of Kaiser's findings are Tear Phonebooks In Half Frustrating. Only 7% of women polled think that there's no uptick in anti-women's health political action at all, which means that a big chunk of the lady populace — 17% — is undecided on the issue.
NOW President Terry O'Neill told the Huffington Post that while the number of women who have woken up and smelled the bullshit may seem small, the fact that a majority of women think that at least something is amiss is actually a "victory." In the meantime, best of luck keeping all these Wars straight.