Rand Paul on Women

[Content Note: Misogyny; war on agency.]

This weekend, Republican Senator Rand Paul was on Meet the Press, and he said some obnoxious bullshit about the Clintons (I'm not going to defend Bill Clinton against charges he has exploited women, but I do take issue with the idea that her husband's issues should be used to derail Hillary Clinton's presumed run for the presidency), which has now upstaged Paul's contemptible comments about women generally:

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Host David Gregory, a middle-aged white man: Let me ask you more about some of the debates within the Republican Party. Former candidate Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, got in some hot water this week with comments he made—I'll play a portion of it—as he talked about a war for women. Here's what he said.

[video clip of Mike Huckabee, a middle-aged white man, saying: "The Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America, because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be."]

Gregory: Is this helpful?

Senator Rand Paul, a middle-aged white man: Well, you know, I think we have a lot of debates in Washington that get dumbed down and are used for political purposes. This whole sort of war on women thing—I'm scratching my head because, if there was a war on women, I think they won. You know, the women in my family are incredibly successful. I have a niece at Cornell vet school, and 85% of the young people there are women. In law school, 60% are women; in med school, 55%. My younger sister's an OB-GYN with six kids and doing great. You know, I don't see so much that women are downtrodden; I see women rising up and doing great things. And, in fact, I worry about our young men sometimes, because I think the women really are out-competing the men in our world.

Gregory: But my question, about whether you think it's appropriate for the party, key figures in the party, to be talking about women, women's health, women's bodies, and the role of the federal government related to those things?

Paul: I try never to have discussions of anatomy unless I'm at a medical conference. [laughter] But what I would say is that we didn't start this sort of, I think, glossy and sometimes dumbed-down debate about, you know, there being a war on women. I think the facts show that women are doing very well, have come a long way. And, you know, like I say, I have a lot of successful women in my family, and I don't hear them saying, "Oh, woe is me. This terrible, you know, misogynist world." They look out and they're conquering the world. The women in my family are doing great, and that's what I see in all the statistics coming out. I have, you know, young women in my office that are the leading intellectual lights of our office. So I don't really see this, that there's some sort of war that's, you know, keeping women down. I see women doing great and I think we should extol that success and not dumb it down into a political campaign that somehow one party doesn't like women or that. And that I think that's what's happened. It's all been for political purposes.
Women in Rand Paul's family are doing great. Case closed, your honor.

Paul, of course, totally elides that it not merely "the Democrats" (i.e. Democratic men) who are talking about women's issues to score political points, but lots and lots and lots of women who are talking about their own lived experiences. Paul doesn't listen to us, though, and neither do his Nightmare Misogynist male constituents and Exceptional Woman female constituents, so he happily positions women's issues as nothing more than an invention of his male ideological rivals.

Just because the highly privileged women in Rand Paul's immediate vicinity are (allegedly) doing terrific doesn't mean that all the women without their privileges are doing terrific, too. Which I think Paul is smart enough to know. He just doesn't care.

I mean, this is a leader of a party who thinks people aren't entitled to food. Of course they don't think women are entitled to fancy stuff like an equal wage for equal work or unregulated bodily autonomy.

But he is worried about "our young men," though. What a hero. Finally someone to worry about the young men!

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