Thursday, June 12, 2008

Anti-Feminism 101

Sometimes a person turns on a flashlight and directs it to the back brains of anti-feminists. When this happens we get a learning moment. Yeah.

Here is one such moment:

On the June 11 broadcast of San Francisco radio station KSFO's The Lee Rodgers Program, host Lee Rodgers said: "[T]he historical voting records show that Democrats have, historically, enjoyed a huge advantage in women voters. Why is that?" Rodgers continued: "Well, some women may be offended by this, but here's another dose of reality. We have a lot of women in this country who get knocked up and they don't have a husband. In effect, the government becomes Daddy in terms of paying the bills. And that accounts -- that's not all of it, but that accounts for a large part of that vote."

Now to tease all the different strands of that comment-knot apart:

First is the idea that people only vote for certain policies because of narrowly selfish goals, not because of wider ideals which might or might not have consequences of the voter. So all women who vote for, say, improved parental leaves only do so because they plan to use such leaves in the future. This idea is the way many wingnuts view the government, as a treasure trove to be ransacked. We can see how it is done by looking at the last eight years.

Second is the view of women as it filters through many murky layers of patriarchal thinking: Women are supposed to make babies for men and men are supposed to give bed and board to those women in return. Nobody else is supposed to enter that trade. Because this is how things are, women who vote for a larger government must be doing so to replace the god-given and evolutionarily predestined role of men in their lives. The role of men as providers and leaders of families.

Third is that odd sentence "We have a lot of women in this country who get knocked up and they don't have a husband." Note the passive way pregnancy is expressed. Rodgers doesn't say that a lot of women in this country get impregnated by men who are not their husbands. That's not necessarily a better way of stating his message, but it shows the manipulation in the original message. The focus is kept on the hussies.

Fourth is the strengthening of the wingnut memes about the government as a Daddy or as a Mommy, though it's not done right. Usually the wingnuts see the best government as a stern and punishing daddy, one who will whup you if you don't do your homework or clean your room. The bad government, in that conservative lexicon, is the government as a permissive mommy, one who gives you more pocket-money and tidies up your room behind the daddy's back. Rodger makes the daddy government something different. Perhaps it's a divorced daddy, turned into nothing but a pocket-book.

Fifth, is the total lack of evidence that the women who vote for Democrats are any more likely to be in the fertile stages of their lives than the women who vote for Republicans.

And so on.