War Over the War on Women

[Content Note: Intersectional misogyny; reproductive rights; ciscentrism. NB: Not only women are in need of reproductive rights, including access to abortion.]

So, there's been a lot of chatter about how Obama's second-term cabinet is looking pretty damn white and male, as Hillary Clinton is being replaced by John Kerry, and the white dudes who are leaving are being replaced by other white dudes—Chuck Hagel to replace Leon Panetta at Defense; Jack Lew to replace Timothy Geithner at Treasury. Hilda Solis' replacement at Labor is unknown, since she just announced her resignation.

There are a lot of personnel changes with any second term, and I'm waiting to see how it all shakes out: In the end, the overall diversity of the administration may increase, based on how lower-level positions are staffed. But visible diversity is crucial, so I have real problems with an overwhelmingly white male cabinet, even in the event the overall diversity improves.

(To my knowledge, all of the current white male nominees identify as cis, straight, and able-bodied, too.)

Legitimate criticisms can and should be made about a failure to practice meaningful diversity by this administration.

Conservatives are, for the most part, not making legitimate criticisms. They are instead making lots of specious and hypocritical arguments that they would never direct at one of their own candidates. My favorite among these is definitely Mike Huckabee accusing Obama of waging his own "war on women."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee slammed the president and Democrats for their "war on women" campaign rhetoric — observing that Obama's second term Cabinet is likely to include few women.

"Now a lot of those females who supported Barack Obama are scratching their heads, and they're saying, 'Whoa! How come there is so much testosterone in the Obama Cabinet and so little estrogen?'" the Arkansas Republican said on his radio program Wednesday. "Because if you look around, all of these high-powered appointments that he is making are all white guys."

Obama promised women "contraceptives and free abortions" to get their votes, but "never promised women would have seats of significance at the table of power," Huckabee said.

"You remember back during the Democratic [National] Convention, how he accused the Republicans of waging a war on women? And a lot of women must have believed it because he got 55 percent of the female vote, Mitt Romney 44 percent," he said.

"Give 'em contraceptives and abortions. But don't worry about positions of authority. They shouldn't be asking for such things," the former presidential candidate said.
First of all, "female" is not meant to be a noun unless one is referring to livestock. Secondly, if one speaks about men and women using "testosterone" and "estrogen," one risks having others infer that one has wadded-up paper towels filling up the unused space in one's brainpan. Thirdly, free abortions? If only.

Again, the lack of female cabinet members is a valid criticism, but the way Huckabee attaches (or rather fails to attach) it here to reproductive rights is absurd, revealing precisely why it is that women trust his party in lower numbers: Women need absolute control over their reproduction in order to navigate a career that qualifies them for positions of authority.

Pro-choice advocacy is a promise to women that they will be able to fulfill their individual potentials. Meaningful inclusion of women is delivering on that promise.

They are inextricably linked, these things.

Huckabee may want to reconsider sneering at Obama for failing to deliver on the promise to girls and women, when his party fails consistently even to make the promise at all.

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