In the latest attempt to defuse the left’s ‘war on women’ rhetoric, Republicans are trying to flatter white, married women as “good” while portraying single women as libidinous parasites.
Common wisdom in the political media is that Republicans have a woman problem. GOP politicians on both the state and federal level attack legal abortion with an obsession rivaling Captain Ahab. Attacks on contraception have grown more shrill, culminating in Mike Huckabee’s instantly notorious RNC speech wherein he claimed Democrats who support contraception access are telling women they can’t control “their libidos.” A number of Republican politicians, most notably Todd Akin, lost in the last election after making offensive remarks about rape victims. The phrase “the Republican war on women” approached “Just Do It” levels of cultural recognition. Most importantly, Barack Obama was handed the White House because of women: 55 percent of women voted for Obama in 2012, but men voted for Romney at 52 percent. Women vote more than men, making the Republican’s woman problem seemingly intractable. Women hate the Republicans, end of story, right?
Republicans, unsurprisingly, disagree that it’s a lost cause, and have spent the past year dumping huge amounts of money on consultants and prodding politicians into meetings to craft a new strategy when it comes to women. The goal isn’t exactly to win the majority of female votes during a presidential election, which Republicans haven’t done since 1988. The goal is more to derail the “war on women” narrative, and in the early part of 2014, it seems they’ve landed on a strategy that is as brilliant as it is simple: Deny that “women” constitutes a meaningful category that anyone can make broad statements about. Instead, Republicans intend to say that while they don’t speak for all women, they certainly speak for some women, and because of that, it’s false to say they are warring on “women.” If effective, that will make it harder for Republican opponents to use the phrase “war on women” without getting bogged down in a derailing discussion about what women and who feels warred upon.