Conservative or not, any spectator of this year’s run-up to the Presidential elections in the United States would have to admit that the Republican Party has pulled some unbelievable stunts, eliciting a collective, ‘Are they joking?’ from the public. From Herman Cain’s entire campaign (highlights include sexual scandals and quoting the Pokémon movie in an address to his supporters) to Donald Trump’s potential candidacy, they seem determined to undermine their own legitimacy. Nothing they have done, however, is more ridiculous - or more terrifying - than their attitude towards women.
Indeed, the Republican Party’s consideration of the fairer sex seems astoundingly antiquated. Before the GOP announced its health care proposals, it attracted scandal and outrage through Rush Limbaugh’s comments regarding Sandra Fluke, a female university student who publically supported state-sponsored provision of contraceptives. Limbaugh, on his program, lambasted the idea that the government would provide young women with such resources, and verbally attacked Fluke herself in a long-winded tirade, stating:
“What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex…. So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch....”
The public outcry and subsequent backlash from advertisers and former supporters has been well documented, but what has not been examined is how any party could breed or propagate such misogyny.
Though the GOP largely declared Limbaugh as an extreme example, through their actions, they ave come to prove themselves as equally misguided. Cutting funding to Planned Parenthood under the guise that they do not support abortion, though less than 3% of Planned Parenthood’s budget is used to fund the practice thereof, attempting to implement mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions (even to victims of rape or incest), and in perhaps their most outrageous move, attempting to redefine exactly what constitutes rape.
This is not to paint all Conservative party members as Stone Age anti-feminists, but it is worth questioning an ideology that would justify the clear violation of women’s rights involved in the aforementioned actions. For ultimately, any party is as free to be as radical or outrageous as it chooses. As full of sound and fury as one may be, the only position that truly matters is the one that public chooses to elect. What is most disturbing about the Republicans is the amount of power they hold in one of the most powerful countries in the world. If such ideas can garner such support in one of the most technologically advanced and gender egalitarian societies we have, we must stop and deeply consider what that says for the future of women’s rights worldwide.
By Farahnaz Mohammed