Recently the Arizona Daily Star announced that it would bow to crank letter-writers from Green Valley and make its editorial pages more “balanced”– in others words, more conservative. The editors announced that they would publish fewer cartoons by brilliant local commentator David Fitzsimmons and more national cartoons, as well as additional syndicated columnists to flesh out their lineup of insufferable right-wingers including Charles Krauthammer and George F. Will.
First of all, despite what retiree letter-writers believe, the Arizona Daily Star hasn’t been the “Red Star” in years. A death knell sounded for the Star a few years ago when they laid off dozens of employees, many of whom were writers. Funny how that happens: fewer reporters = less news. Not long after that, the Star reduced the physical page size; eliminated the metro section; started printing press releases verbatim; initiated front-page ads, advertising stickers, and other annoying advertising gimmicks; and, worst of all, began ignoring real local news (like the Tucson City Council meetings) in favor of feel-good front page stories and wire service fodder.
The editors lost no time in instituting new right wing editorial content. On Thursday the Star ran a John-Kerry-bashing syndicated cartoon, four national editorials (three of which were conservative), and one local editorial about cheesy Facebook surveys. This is balanced?
The Thursday editorial that really raised my ire was: ‘War on women’ now it just a scattershot weapon. In a nutshell, columnist Hanna Rosin claims that the War on Women was fabricated by Democrats who mounted major political ad campaigns featuring a handful of stupid Republicans talking about “legitimate rape” and sluts who want government to bankroll their promiscuous lifestyles. (No mention, of course, of the men who benefit from and encourage those promiscuous lifestyles.)
All of the pro-legitimate-rape-slut-bashing Republican candidates lost in 2012 because women voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama and other Democrats. Consequently, Republicans were sent to “sensitivity training” to learn how to talk to women voters. Post charm school, all is well, Rosin concludes; the War on Women has ended and any Democrats who still talk about it are just makin’ shit up.
Unfortunately, the facts are not on Rosin’s side. She minimizes the War on Women by focusing on the legitimate rape rhetoric. The War on Women rages on in state legislatures and in the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives, but Rosin’s editorial fails to even mention the hundreds of anti-woman bills that have been proposed and passed in recent years. Outrageous anti-woman statements by Republican politicians and evangelical ministers are just the tip of the iceberg; lurking beneath the surface of the water are wide-spread sexist beliefs and a fear of women gaining political clout.
Women earn less than men. Compared to white men, Latinas earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, black women earn 68 cents on the dollar, white women earn 81 cents on the dollar, and Asian women earn 88 cents on the dollar. In 2012, the Republican Party’s presidential candidate said he would not have signed the Lilly Leddbetter Fair Pay Act, thus perpetuating this inequality.
Single women and their children live in poverty. According to the National Poverty Center, “Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty.” Here is Tucson, 52 percent of children live in single parent households; 71 percent of these children live in poverty, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
28 million women provide unpaid care for the elderly. Many working women joke sarcastically about starting their “second shift” when they leave their paid jobs at the end of the day. For some, the second shift is going home to cook, wash dishes, and help with the homework. For 28 million women, the second shift is caring for elderly family members (usually their Moms) or friends. According to a new report released by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 42.1 million Americans (66 percent of whom are women) provided $450 billion in uncompensated care in 2009– more than the cost of Medicaid. The “average” family caregiver is “a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends about 20 hours a week caring for her mother without pay.”
Politicians (mostly Republicans) promote and enact laws that oppress women. Cutting food stamps, which help poor women feed their families. Cutting Head Start, which helps poor children succeed. Cutting low-income childcare subsidies, which help poor women find and keep jobs. Cutting public education, which levels the playing field across the classes. Defunding Planned Parenthood, which offers reduced or free contraception, allowing women to choose pregnancy (or not). Closing women’s health clinics in multiple states, which denies access to care and access to safe, legalabortions. Intimidating and demeaning women by forcing them to have unnecessary medical procedures, particularly vaginal ultrasound. Pondering the question of “legitimate rape” in the US Congress. Allowing employers to drop contraception from health insurance plans. Making voting more difficult. Balancing budgets on the backs of the poor, while keeping the military-industrial complex fat and happy.
Sexism has become institutionalized and codified in the US. It’s OK to say “duh” now, but even on the left– among people fighting for racial equality–it’s OK to be sexist.
Note to the Arizona Daily Star and Hanna Rosin: The War on Women is not over by a long shot.