'Uncle Sugar': The GOP Gives Up on Women

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Mike Huckabee is floating a new line about how the Republican Party isn't having a war ON women but a war FOR women. On Thursday, he told the Republican National Committee that they need to stop buying into the liberal framing of the issue. According to Raw Story, he said

“Women I know are outraged that Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless or hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have a government provide for them birth control medication,” Huckabee said. “Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything anyone else can do.”

[...]

“If Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government, then so be it,” Huckabee said.

So, there are a few interesting things going on here. One, pack it up, sexist pigs. Feminism won. Even among conservative voters, feminist ideas are now considered so mainstream that Huckabee can say that women are "smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything anyone else can do" and know he's not going to get any pushback on it.

But there's a little of the sexist pig still in Huckabee here. See, the way masculinity in our culture is framed is very much about whether other dudes think you're tough and self-sufficient. But the only places women as tough and self-sufficient are ideals are among feminists and among people like Huckabee who misunderstand what women are told to aspire to be — because, even in this day and age, it's not "not helpless." Huckabee can't just swap out the gender on the old "You're a real man if you're self-sufficient and anyone who says you're not self-sufficient is calling you a pussy" stereotype. Trying to tell women we're being insulted because the government won't let us all Clint-Eastwood it up through life doesn't really work. That's not a role we're ever encouraged to fill. So, oh, damn, I can't be the stoic loner Republicans know I can be. It's not a problem.

And then there's the fact that everyone knows that Huckabee doesn't know any women who are outraged about the birth control mandate. I think this is also a part of the "war on women" that's so deadly for Republicans. Politicians can lie about stuff if the lie seems plausible, but the implausible lies will kill you. And no woman who's getting birth control now and having the whole cost of it covered is so outraged that she's mentioning it to Mike Huckabee. It's just not happening. Even if you think maybe it's bad policy, you're still not having to whoop out your debit card to get your supply. No one is getting worked up over having to spend less money at the pharmacy. And every time Mike Huckabee says women are, women know he's lying.

But the best part is Uncle Sugar and the Uncontrollable Lust of Ladies, which, I swear, will be the name of my memoir, should I ever write one. It's just the glorious imagery of Uncle Sam as some kind of drug pusher to whores and the idea that it should be insulting to be seen as a woman who likes to fuck. I'm just never going to believe that the Republican party doesn't have a problem with women until they stop using their public platforms to trot out their bizarro and disturbing beliefs about women. "Intelligent" and "has a libido" aren't opposites in real life.

Eh, well, what can you do but laugh? It only took 50 years from the publication of The Feminine Mystique to feminist ideas that women can do anything men can do being so mainstream that Mike Huckabee would spout them. Give it another 50 years and maybe everyone will be able to agree that women who like to fuck aren't actually bad.

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