Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and the Female Libido
Women represent 53% of the voting electorate. Vital as it is for Republicans to gain female votes in 2014, that need will reach critical mass in the 2016 Presidential election. Despite a recent 100-page RNC post-mortem prescribing greater outreach, rather than heed that advice, today’s Republican Party continues to shoot itself in the foot with offensive remarks and legislative actions that flout their aims.
Continued male dominance of the party is reinforced by Rep. Darrell Issa, who invited male witnesses to testify before a mostly male panel on women’s contraception and Rep. Chris Smith, who convened an all-male panel on cuts to abortion funding without a single female Congressional member or witness. This only adds to the perception that Republicans are stuck in an episode of Mad Men.
Decrying the "war on women" narrative, Republicans accuse Democrats of pandering to women as one-issue voters. Such tactics work well for Democrats at election time as they hold women hostage threatening the loss of reproductive rights should they not prevail. Yet Republicans’ obsessive preoccupation with contraception and abortion plays right into liberal hands.
As to the "War on Women," many of us despise being used as a political football every election. In the words of Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, "Every issue is a woman’s issue." Though Democrats did not pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in January, 2009, even when they had a near super majority, their one-issue strategy has not lost its effectiveness. 2012 proved it. Despite this, Republicans in Congress seem to be doubling down and with every action, make the Democrats’ case when they appeal to women’s fears.
As there are significant percentages of pro-choice Republicans and pro-life Democrats, this is not to argue the rectitude of one position or the other, more the manner in which we are having the debate.
The exclusion of women from a prime seat in the discussion sends the message that we are not equal under the law and not invited to the table on an issue that concerns our bodies and our life choices. This is a civil rights issue and an equal rights issue. If you told a man he was not allowed to have a vasectomy until he had an invasive ultrasound (imagine where the probe will be inserted), watched a deterring video, or endured a doctor talking him out of the procedure, he’d likely knock your block off. Why are women then to be patronized and treated like irresponsible, amoral children?
Cut to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, whose unfortunate remarks about women being "unable to control their libidos" have gone viral. Since liberal pundits were accused of taking his statement out of context, here it is, in context:
"I think it's time for Republicans to no longer accept listening to Democrats talk about a war on women. Because the fact is, the Republicans don't have a war on women. They have a war for women. For them to be empowered to be something other than victims of their gender. Women I know are outraged that Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have a government provide for them birth control medication. Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable doing anything anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That's not a war on them. it's a war for them. And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let's take that discussion all across America because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say, Enough of that nonsense." [emphasis mine]-- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to RNC members. 1/23/2014
Some notes for Mr. Huckabee:
Women are allowed to have a libido. Contraception is not about "self-control," lest we discuss why insurance pays for Viagra. Mr. Huckabee’s condescending comment makes it seems as if women who have sex, whether they are married or single, are somehow bad. "Uncle Sugar" is also wildly off key and insulting.
Second, some women use contraceptives to alleviate painful medical conditions. It has also been shown to protect against certain life threatening cancers and alleviate endometriosis. Women have the right to plan their pregnancies and their lives. Being the party of small government and working to legislate a woman’s life choices seems inconsistent. Contraception is a less traumatic, not to mention a far less expensive, alternative to later having an abortion or carrying an unexpected pregnancy to term and, unable to afford the child, needing government assistance in order to survive. Two issues Republicans fight against tooth and nail.