If conservatives like sex, they sure need to do a better job of showing it. And it's not just lefty feminists like myself who think that.
A woman at a panel held Wednesday night by the right-wing Independent Women's Forum on how to reach out to woman had the same take. Leslie Paige, 55, who works for an advocacy group promoting smaller government, had her mind on bigger things when she took the mic and said, "I just want to say one small word and the word is sex." Paige explained that college-aged women see Republicans as "a bunch of prudish, anti-sex, anti-reproductive freedom people." So Paige has a brilliant suggestion for combatting the image problem: bumper stickers that say "We Like Sex Too." The room went silent for a second, but then broke into a round of applause and hoots.
Great! Now we can all go home. Not really. The problem that Paige doesn't get is that this isn't an image problem. This is a content problem. I'm happy that conservatives enjoy sex, but that doesn't mean the policies they and their party support aren't "anti-reproductive freedom." And if Paige doesn't think the conservative movement and the GOP isn't in opposition to reproductive freedom, she's in denial.
And she's not the only one who thinks "De Nile" is a river in Egypt, if you get my "drift" (doy! Two puns in ONE sentence). The Independent Women's forum panelists pretended contraception was totes not an issue for conservatives. As Talking Points Memo reports,
When prodded by audience questions, the panelists said that contraception was a non-issue. As [conservative blogger Mollie ] Hemingway put it, contraception was thought up by Democrats who found it tested well in focus groups despite being a completely settled issue. Her response was to urge Republicans to respond with their own accusations that are "just as crazy," something like, "they're stealing your hot dogs!"
With all do respect to Mollie Hemingway, that is a bald-faced lie and an idiotic or totally dishonest comparison. (Maybe conservatives need to just stay away from comparisons for a while, because they're pretty shitty at them.) I mean, don't get me wrong: the comparison totally works in an alternate universe in which Democrats ran on stealing hot dogs. But science fiction aside, Republicans and not Democrats turned contraception into an issue when they, I dunno, "flipped out" about the Obamacare mandate that required employers to cover contraception. Rep. Darrell Issa made it an issue when he held an all-male hearing against birth control and barred Sandra Fluke from speaking. (Talk about good optics!) Paul Ryan made it an issue when he vowed that the contraception mandate would be gone on "day one" of the Romney presidency (remember when that was going to be a thing?). And these are just some examples, because we don't have all day.
In all seriousness, I don't know if these women are being cynically dishonest or are in denial. But there is some kind of cognitive dissonance going on here. Because somehow, somewhere they really know that Republicans suck when it comes to women's issues.
Panelist and anti-feminist Hoff Sommers said,
"We have some problematic allies.... Conservative leaders and funders, they don't take women's issues seriously....I'm not sure what's worse: conservatives ignoring women's issues, or conservatives addressing them."
And Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of IWF and a panelist (whom I once debated on MSNBC and who thinks you can be a feminist without supporting pay equity) complained:
"I know sometimes when I go into a donor meeting and I see someone's eyes just glazing over, like, ‘why would I care about women?'"
But the solutions the panel offered reveal they don't really care about women's issues, either. They just care about getting more women to vote for a party which is fighting to turn back the clock on women's issues. They want improvements in optics to trick women into voting for Republicans. They,
cheered the fact that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is part of the Republican House leadership and urged Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to "glue" her to him because the optics of having a visible woman in the GOP are important....They wanted more Republican women legislators and conceded that the GOP should take a page out of Democrats' playbook and simply ask more women to run for office.... Both she and conservative blogger Mollie Hemingway talked about the importance of changing the way Republicans relate to women....They needed more Laura Ingraham and less Rush Limbaugh, [paneslist Karlyn] Bowman said.
I'm all for less Rush, but more Laura Ingraham? Really? She may have a vagina, but that doesn't mean she's good for women. She slut-shamed Sandra Fluke, denies there is a war on women, and lies about Planned Parenthood. But yeah, great choice, ladies. Definitely go with her.
So maybe a better bumper sticker would be "We Like Sex Too! We Just Want to Control the Way You Have it and Block Your Access to Contraception." Though that may be a little long.
‘We Like Sex Too': Conservative Women Ponder The GOP's Gender Gap [Talking Points Memo]
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