A selective ‘war on women’

By Kathleen Parker

It has long been accepted by the conventionally wise that the Republican Party is waging a “war on women.”

Let’s be clear. The war on women is based on just one thing — abortion rights. While it is true that access to abortion has been restricted in several states owing to Republican efforts, it is not true that women as a whole care only or mostly about abortion.

I promise, this isn’t another abortion column, not that the horrific number of abortions performed each year shouldn’t make one’s stomach turn. Instead, extremists on the pro-choice left celebrate the “right” to terminate a 20-week-old fetus. Google an image of this stage of fetal development and try to comprehend the glee we witnessed when state senator Wendy Davis, now running for governor, became the belle du jour upon her filibuster to protect that “right” in Texas.

OK, sorry, so I digressed just a little. But it isn’t possible to dissect the alleged war on women without mentioning abortion, since this is the entire content of the war as defined by savvy Democratic operatives. It was an effective strategy in 2012, aided quite a bit by some of the GOP’s lesser lights and looser tongues, not to mention good ol’ slut-talking Rush.

On the latter’s offense, and the silliness of the so-called war in general, I defer to Bill Maher, who recently chastised liberals for their selective outrage regarding women’s rights.

“We hear a lot about the Republican ‘war on women.’ It’s not cool Rush Limbaugh called somebody a slut. OK,” said Maher. “But Saudi women can’t vote, or drive, or hold a job or leave the house without a man. Overwhelming majorities in every Muslim country say a wife is always obliged to obey her husband. That all seems like a bigger issue than evangelical Christian bakeries refusing to make gay wedding cakes.”


This selective tendency is also apparent when only certain women are deserving of defense in the public arena. Sarah Palin, whose potential vice presidency I politely opposed for legitimate reasons that are now widely embraced, has been outrageously abused in the vilest terms — by Maher among others — and left to twist in the wind. Yet Sandra Fluke, whose appeal for insurance coverage of birth control prompted Limbaugh to call her a “slut,” was elevated to martyr status and perhaps a political career.

A more recent example of a war-on-women event occurred in Virginia’s closely watched congressional race between Democrat John Foust and Republican Barbara Comstock. This time it was a Democratic male attacking a Republican female in, shall we say, the most clueless of terms. Lacking facts or finesse, Foust mused to an audience that
Comstock hadn’t ever held a “real job.”

Meaning, what, that she’s just a mom ?

Even if this were so, and it is not, why should Foust get a pass for such an ignorant, sexist remark? Is any Democratic male — even one who manages to insult while pandering — better than any Republican female? In my experience, a woman who can manage a household and juggle the needs of three children while obtaining a law degree from Georgetown University, as Comstock did, can run a corporation or a nation.

Like many working women, Comstock did stay home in the early years to raise her children. She is also whip smart, funny, irreverent and fierce. Her résumé includes such non-cookie­baking activities as serving as a senior aide to Rep. Frank Wolf, whose congressional seat she is pursuing. She currently is serving her third term in the Virginia House of Delegates, where she has advanced legislation to thwart human trafficking and supported several conservative positions related to health-care and tax reform.

Yes, she’s conservative. And, yes, she also opposes abortion. Which is to say, she doesn’t quite count in the national movement to elect more women to public office. When a Comstock ad recently called Foust’s comments “sexist, bizarre, insensitive, ignorant,” the 10th District’s Democratic Party tweeted, “If @barbaracomstock were a man, she’d be down 20 pts w women. Her record & policies are horrible for women.”

No, if Comstock were a man, she wouldn’t have to counter such slander.

Virginia voters who oppose Comstock’s legislative record have a clear alternative. But if they cast their ballots for Foust, they’ll be electing a man whose disrespect toward women and the single job only women can do — mothering — is at least as offensive as Limbaugh’s name-calling.

On the other hand, maybe Foust and Limbaugh cancel each other out — neutralizing the war that never was.

Email: kathleenparker@washpost.com

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