The following letters were sent as a response to an article written by Jacob Sklar ’12, published in the April 6 issue on the Voice, about the relationship of the Republican Party and women’s rights.
Jacob Sklar’s defense of the Republican party’s treatment of women in the Viewpoints section two weeks ago is offensive and woefully misguided. His claim that legally mandated trans-vaginal ultrasounds prior to the procurement of abortion do not constitute “state-sponsored rape” (to use his snide quotes) is predicated on the argument that neither force nor threat of force would be used.
This statement alone illustrates Sklar’s ignorance regarding rape and delegitimizes sexual violence perpetrated without force or threat of force. The boundaries of rape are drawn with consent. Ignoring this fact and thereby creating a script of “real rape” is, to use Sklar’s words, shameful. Even the FBI’s newly updated definition of rape emphasizes consent as the defining factor. I’m interested to know how Jacob Sklar thinks that forcing a woman to have an object inserted into her vagina in order to procure an abortion is anything but non-consensual. If women are forced to be penetrated in order to then receive a legal medical procedure, that is coercion and that is rape.
Sklar also expresses dislike for the fact that “women’s issues,” have been limited in the media and public sphere to those of sexual health and reproduction. This has become the monolith for women’s issues because these are the fundamental human rights that the Republican party has so gleefully jeopardized over the last year. I agree with Sklar that Democrats have become successful in proclaiming themselves to be the party of women regarding these issues, but this is because they are not the ones slashing federal programs that benefit low income women and children, scaling back abortion rights, limiting women’s access to birth control and reproductive health care, shaming women’s bodies and sexual agency, and, in some cases, decriminalizing domestic violence to save money. This past week, legislation was signed into law in Arizona that forbids abortion two weeks before a woman even becomes pregnant. This political circus is a cheap and shallow ploy to write the standards of society on women’s bodies, denigrating them as incubators for heterosexual, married, reproductive sexual purposes.
Finally, Sklar’s ill-suited argument that more men commit crimes and Republicans keep them in jail so that they can’t hurt more women does absolutely nothing to address the issues currently raging in our society that disproportionality affect women and is entirely unrelated to his argument regarding women’s issues. If Republicans have a stronger track record for keeping rapists in jail, then wonderful for them. However, if you are really so concerned for sexually violated women and their well being, then the party that attempted to legally change the term “rape victim,” to “rape accuser,” would force a woman pregnant through rape to have a metal wand shoved into her vagina for no viable medical reason, mandate that she carry her pregnancy to term and then afford her and her child little to no state or federal support is probably not where you should start looking.
-Meredith Loken ’12
We found several of the points made in the article “Democrats not the party of women” to be highly problematic. Firstly, it is concerning that a man would claim which party is for women by essentializing women’s experiences, wants and needs. He portrays women as weak, fearful and in need of “special” protection, when in reality, all citizens require equal protection under the law.
Secondly, his outright dismissal of the invasive and oppressive trans-vaginal ultrasound policy is alarming. We felt that he was just distracting readers from the issues brought up in the article to which he was responding by bringing crime into the argument. A trans-vaginal ultrasound is appalling, as are the other assaults on women’s reproductive freedoms from the Republican party.
In fact, the Republican party is not necessarily advancing women’s interests, but is in fact acting against them. The Republican party the author portrayed reflects a patriarchal social order that works to the detriment of all, confining women into the role of a nurturing but fearful mother figure who relies on a male protector and provider.
Women are, in fact, more likely to be victims of crime, but that is not necessarily an issue that either party is correcting by being “hard” or “soft” on crime. The victimization of women is an issue that is rooted in prevailing gender norms and stereotypes. While the author is proposing that the tougher-on-crime Republican party is resolving the issue of crime, neither party is doing enough to change the social structures and thus, stop crime from happening in the first place.
We disagree with the notion that Democrats privilege the criminals over the female victims and further assert that the Republican party privileges wealthy, straight, white anglo-saxon protestant males over everyone else through their proposed budget cuts that disproportionally and negatively affect the “minorities.” For example, the proposed Republican budget cuts would limit funding for Medicare and Medicaid, which are programs that have a high percentage of women beneficiaries. The GOP budget plan would also take away “Obamacare,” thereby making it legal for insurance companies to charge women more for healthcare.
-Anna Easterday ’13, Adrienne James ’13, Kelsey Jandrey ’13 and Grace Miller ’13.