What Are the Four Non-Myths About the ‘War on Women’?

Illustration for article titled What Are the Four Non-Myths About the ‘War on Women’?

See how that works? It's rare that we get both a question and an answer in the title of an article, probably because it spoils the suspense. Why would you bother reading on if you already know, in the case of Mary Eberstadt's article in the Saturday Wall Street Journal that no, the sexual revolution in fact hasn't been good for women?


Eberstadt sets out to prune the garden of current political rhetoric of one of its "weeds," the "wildly growing falsehood" that there's actually what those most attuned to the zeitgeist would call a "war on women." Such a preposterous idea, Eberstadt explains, requires swift and precise debunking:

It's [the idea of a war on women] an ideological whopper that demands more scrutiny than it has so far gotten, because underneath it are solid rocks of myth concerning what are called the "social issues." Let's turn over a few of these to see what facts they hide.

Maybe it's a rock garden? I'm confused — where are we again? Eberstadt, up to her knees in dandelions and wildflowers, and wielding a pair of rusty hedge trimmers tries to tidy up the overgrown botanical discourse in America by presenting us with four rock myths that apparently buttress the fictive war on women: the "war against women" is being waged by tyrannical men against a united group of women; no one would be talking about contraception if not for the Catholic Church; the "social issues" are artifacts of an unpleasant past that will eventually fade away; and the sexual revolution has made women happier. She then explodes each one of these supposed myths using EVIDENCE and LOGIC, proving to her audience that only a misinformed dolt could be duped into believing that America's conservative theocracy has engaged in any sort of hostilities with women.

At least part of what Eberstadt claims is true — no one should believe the four myths she cites because nobody's actually propagating them. Eberstadt simplifies what she sees as the constituent parts of the argument that conservative leadership has systematically targeted women's health issues as political fodder in order to more easily debunk the idea of a "war on women." She does this, of course, because a large part of her audience is eager to dismiss the idea that the political party they've allied themselves with is quickly making an enemy of the fastest-growing voter bloc in this country, single women. Eberstadt's quatrain of an argument, then, however well-evidenced (it's not) and logical, is only an exercise in reassurance; by debunking mythical myths, she's letting conservative readers know that Republican prospects in November's presidential election aren't as bad as the left would have them believe.

Of course women vote across the board on social issues — they're individuals, after all, not some fascist political party whose members wear matching uniforms and bully dissenters on polling day. Merely writing, "Over 20,000 women, from all walks of life" doesn't prove that the group of women that signed an open letter to Barack Obama and Secretary and Kathleen Sebelius objecting to the federal contraception mandate was economically, racially, religiously, or generationally diverse.

Of course people were talking about birth control before the Catholic Church stuck its papist nose into the debate, which only reminded everyone how willfully out of touch the Church hierarchy is with the Catholic masses. Eberstadt writes that the birth control debate "isn't just a Catholic thing," but who's saying it is? The Church simply shouted the loudest about the birth control mandate because it would negatively affect not the Church's conscience — the sex abuse scandal made it quite clear that it has no conscience — but its bank account, what with having to pay for contraception for all the harlot college professors and charity workers it employs.


Obviously social issues are not just going to vanish — do you know why? We live in a society and social issues are, like, pervasive or whatever. At least until the big asteroid hits. Homosexuality, for example, has always been a thing people talked (with differing levels of tolerance) about in Western society because homosexuality is a social construct (every designation, btw, is a social construct). Should gays serve in the military? If they're able-bodied people, why not? Ancient Thebes fielded the gayest army ever and guess what? It was fabulous and undefeated.

Of course — and this is Ebertsadt's most egregiously mythical myth — the sexual revolution hasn't necessarily made women happier — that wasn't the point. The point was to liberate women from a sexually restrictive and oppressive patriarchy, to give women greater agency in making decisions about what they do with their bodies. Does being able to decide, say, to masturbate until late in the afternoon on a Saturday instead of getting out of bed and doing productive stuff mean that later a feeling of deep unhappiness will set in when you realize you have no groceries for eating? Maybe, but that's what can happen when people choose their choices — sometimes they're unhappy.


Has the Sexual Revolution Been Good for Women? No [WSJ]



How can it be a "war on some women" when half the women in the country are on the "attacking" side?

Here's Gallup poll data on abortion:

"Men and women are nearly identical in their views about the legality and morality of abortion, as well as in the percentage labeling themselves "pro-choice" vs. "pro-life.""


Here's Gallup poll data on contraception:

"The views of men and women within each party are fairly similar, with 82% of Republican women and 84% of Republican men siding with religious leaders. Similarly, about three-quarters of Democratic women and men sympathize with the Obama administration. Independent women and independent men are both closely divided."