Sunday, September 07, 2008

Using abortion as the scare tactic...the under lying power struggle and reality

Friday I received a mailing from the Ohio Democratic Party's Campaign for Change, it's message was to make women afraid that if John McCain were elected that we would not be able to have an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, because that is the Republican Party Platform so the card said. It didn't address the economy, or health care or education, the mailing focused only on abortion and birth control. They've even created a website that says McCain’s Rigid Pro-Life Stance Poses A Serious Threat To Women. Then yesterday I got another one, different photos, same basic message...

It made me as a woman feel as if the Democratic party was focusing on my vagina, they assume my main concern was abortion and birth control, since these mailings were sent to women only. Believe it or not, there are Democrats out there, especially ones who are Catholic (like me) who have a stronger position against abortion than I do. Didn't anyone stop to think how this type of ad might actually accomplish the opposite? In previous and recent conversations with those I come into contact with on a regular basis, one thing all agreed on is that both parties use abortion as a propaganda tool, why is that? I have a theory, even considering men lead the ticket, the Democratic Party has been described as the "mommy party" and the Republican Party is the "daddy party" (Yes even with a woman VP) and yes, this is Lakoff inspired.

If we take this to the most basic reproductive aspect, man wants his sperm to implant, that's why there are millions of sperm against one egg. Those of us who are Catholic laugh about every sperm is sacred yet there is a grain of truth to us being taught that the main function of sex is for procreation, not recreation. Reproductive choice and the decision to have or not to have an abortion is one of the few things in this world that a woman has the ability to decide whether her partner agrees or not. He doesn't want a baby she does or the opposite, he wants the baby she doesn't, makes no difference. I think you can see where this creates what I believe is a subconscious power issue, where eliminating a woman's choice, gives the man his power back. Should he decide to "honor her" with his sperm then it's up to nature (or God) not her if a child is a result of it. The creation of reliable birth control gave women power over their sexual and reproduction choices, it started us on the path of wanting to be equals...

Ah...but what about women who are not pro-choice? Most of them come from a religious standpoint to that topic, procreation is a gift from God. Anyone who has read the bible knows the focus on barren women who were "blessed" from God with the baby they had been long denied. While I'm sure there are women out there who do not believe in abortion under any circumstance, I've yet to meet one in person, even those who consider themselves pro-life believe that abortion should be allowed if the health of the mother is in danger and some feel in cases of rape or incest.

The sexual/reproduction power struggle between men and women has existed before this country did. Though each party has staked out a general position on this issue, the reality is there are Republicans who are pro-choice and there are Democrats who are pro-life. It's not "the" voting issue for quite a few people out there despite the attention it gets.

Beyond all of that though, a good number of the women I come into contact with on a regular basis are not focusing on abortion or birth control as their main reason to vote for or against someone. To be brutally honest, many don't have the luxury of worrying about that aspect, they are focused on financial survival. How are they going to put groceries on the table, how are their children going to get a better education, which utility bill should they pay since they are behind on both, their child is sick, where is the money going to come from to not only take them to the doctor but to fill a prescription, etc., most of them are so emotionally drained they are not worrying about birth control. At the end of the day, sex is the farthest thought from their mind, they are worried about how are they going to get through the next day.

If this is the way that the Obama campaign is planning on reaching out to this particular voting block? It's not going to work. They want real answers, they want real plans and they want to know how things are going to be paid for. They want someone who will appear to really understand their struggles, they already have learned that by the time you wait for government to do something? You'd be starving or homeless.

True or not true, some saw Clinton as someone who understood them, true or not true some see Palin in that same light. They want someone who will represent them, and missives like this trying to use scare tactics about abortion and birth control just confirm for them that the Democratic Party doesn't get it.


T. F. Stern said...

If more folks took the time to understand what was going on, actually looked through the smoke screens being put down by both parties, there wouldn't be enough toilet paper to clean up the mess.

I wish there were better choices for the top spot; but there aren't so we'll have to survive 4 years with who ever cons the most.

Lisa Renee said...

I totally agree, it's no wonder we never really move forward.

So many people don't pay attention to where the other real problem exists, Congress. There are quite a few career politicians there on both sides that quit working for our interests quite some time ago.

Jill said...

Lisa Renee - I don't know if I've recommended this book to you before, but The Baby Business talks about the business of international adoption and the role reproductive health policy plays in it. I believe the author is or was working on more articles, and maybe a book but I'm not sure, specifically about global reproductive health issues. Disclosure: the author of the book is a friend.

Lisa Renee said...

Jill, I'm sure it is a very interesting book, and reproduction health policy aside, it's not something that is the "key" issue for many women.

Nor is it a set policy that "all" women who vote Democrat agree on. Education, Jobs, Health care...those are areas were you are more likely to find more agreement and less religious differences.

Jill said...

Hey Lisa Renee - you wrote, "'s not something that is the "key" issue for many women.

Nor is it a set policy that "all" women who vote Democrat agree on."

By it you mean reproductive policy, right?

I would agree 100% with you on this. :)

"Education, Jobs, Health care...those are areas were you are more likely to find more agreement and less religious differences."

Also totally agree, that's a great point.

Lisa Renee said...

Kind of, I know women who are Democrats who are pro-life, most are Catholics like I am. Trying to balance being a Catholic and a Democrat can be interesting.

I'm sure it's similar to what Republicans who are pro-choice face when it comes to their party platform.

It doesn't make sense to me to alienate a portion of your party that you know exists, the assumption that if you are a woman and you are a Democrat you therefore be in support of abortion is wrong. They know these Democrats exist. As we both agree, there are other key issues that would be more on target as a message.

It's as if they are purposely shooing themselves in the foot...

Jill said...

Yeah - it's hard for me to imagine that there's ever been a time when either party has been homogenous even if it looks like it was or is for that matter. And yet I agree - and I contribute at times I know - to the sense that it does only have one voice.

More cognitive dissonance maybe? I'm not sure.

Lisa Renee said...

I guess then that explains my seemingly appointed position as the rabble rouser that points out that not everyone feels that way. Taking the endless devils advocate position, the fish swimming against the stream...

Trying to be the conscience prick without ending up being a totally hateful bitch. A real contradiction in terms as my husband would describe. If I was really into horoscopes I'd blame it on being a Pisces.

It's just frustrating to see so many people struggle and need real answers not campaign scare tactics.

Aaron said...

Sadly, scare tactics win votes. But fortunately these tactics are all too soon and we still have ~7 weeks before getting scared!

Lisa Renee said...

Aaron, that made me laugh, which probably demonstrates just how twisted I am.

Thank you!


Jill said...

I'm not a one issue voter but that doesn't mean that I don't fixate on one issue at any one time - the most likely culprits are Israel, public education - in 2006, it was the gambling effort.

I don't see you as a "conscience prick" or a "hateful bitch." I see you as someone who cares more deeply than most people and who expresses that in your writing. Your disdain for anything I write isn't something I relish but if I were afraid of dissent, I'd have stopped blogging a long time ago.

And, I always think about the alternative - what if you weren't here? Or I wasn't for that matter? Not that we're so awesome - even if we are - but my goodness - just take a look down the BNN list of blogs - seriously - it's not like we've got incredible diversity now - imagine how much less there'd be without either one of us, let alone both. I mean, isn't it good that we don't say the same thing? :)

Lisa Renee said...

When I'm focusing on the homeless or other victims my goal is to be that conscience prick without people feeling as if I'm being pushy or trying to create guilt. The battle of not ending up being a hateful bitch is what I try to avoid, hence a huge number of drafts that after sleeping upon I decide qualify more as rants than blogworthy or a huge number of comments that I never hit "post" on.

When my father was alive he would get frustrated with me and remind me that I couldn't save the world, that I put too much of me out there and didn't keep enough for me. He was right, but then like now? I'm the same.

Perhaps why I have a higher level of expectation from you, Jill, I've seen what you are capable of. Perhaps it is the gender aspect of there being so few of us that not only are my expectations of what I can accomplish unrealistic, but also what I expect from you is unrealistic as well.

That said, if someone picked on you unfairly? I'd be there if you needed a back up.

I made a promise to myself in 2006 that I was going to give the Democratic Party a fair chance, I've been very disappointed, and situations like the one that created this post are part of the reason why. Women need a voice and it is better to have two sharing different voices than only one.

Jill said...

This, "Women need a voice and it is better to have two sharing different voices than only one." made me cry.

Well - let me say this about that - I created the Ohio Online Women's google group listserv back in June or so but was waiting to get permission from someone to kind of finesse their guidelines into something that would work for us and then Israel came and that was it - I never got any further. But I know that, as I've seen in the few women's listservs I'm in now, that a backchannel like that is incredibly helpful in shaping a message that covers all our bases - without stamping out or unnecessarily stomping on any other base. It certainly would have been a place that could have been very helpful right now, in terms of women who converse online hashing out some of the stuff coming up now.

I am 100% certain you are not a quitter and while I get pretty hopeless now and then and stymied at times - which really pisses people off - I know that ultimately we find a way to keep going. Even if it's just you and me who are reading now. :)

Lisa Renee said...

I'm sorry I made you cry, and I agree we need to do more to connect women. Perhaps after this election is over it can happen, whoever wins, women in Ohio will still be needing us to be out there.

One thing I love about this blog is it isn't GCJ, but you and I are not alone, I think however we scared the guys off from commenting.


Jill said...

Yeah - we got all GIRLY on them. They HATE that stuff! Oh - wait - two women - girly.

Ok - I'm stopping there. :)

Lisa Renee said...

lmao - I'm going to figure out what I'm going to say tomorrow for the press conference launching 1Votes.

It will be a switch to be the one actually part of the press conference rather than the one covering it.

And you and I have always said it would be boring if we always agreed, as long as we keep challenging each other to be our best and to know our stuff? We'll get there...

Jill said...

Thank you. :)

And good luck tomorrow - I'm going sleepy. :)

Alex said...

I don't know if I would argue that this is a "scare tactic," however, the assumption that this discourse of reproductive rights is premised on is manifest: "Choice" is valued; indeed, it becomes a question of both bodily integrity and life-course determination for women, which appeals to the "power struggle" mentioned in the post.

Now, perhaps this assumption is flawed, as you suggest it is, and women voters (and men) are not as eminently concerned with protecting this particular interest with a right. But either way, the assumption seems to have some validity given how manifestly important many believe this issue is. Therefore, I don't see these kinds of conversations as "scare tactics." Assuming, of course, that the argument - McCain and Palin will limit or remove "choice" - is sound. Which it is, given their respective positions.

This is the difference between this conversation and the conversation in '04 about Kerry/Edwards and gay marriage: Kerry/Edwards explicitly argued against gay marriage, however, the Republican's successfully convinced voters otherwise. That's a "scare tactic" because the argument has no validity. It's not meant to appeal to reason; emotion, uninformed emotion, is the impetus.

This is an important issue that may or may not concern some individuals to whom the message is intended. In my opinion, this conversation is of utmost importance, and the Republican's platform, as it concerns the Supreme Court in particular, is of great concern.

Lisa Renee said...

Alex, why I view it as a "scare tactic" is two separate mailings sent out only to women with the only focus being on stating McCain would stop the right to have an abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

While that may be part of the Republican platform, it's not a given even if the two are elected that abortion would become illegal. Bush has been in office 8 years and the realistic chain of events that would have to take place to make abortion illegal would be one that would be very difficult to accomplish.

It's similar to the opposite scar tactic relating terrorism. We don't know that we would be "unsafe" with Obama as president, or that we would be any "safer" with McCain. It's an assumption used to scare people rather than have them base their vote on real platform issues that will have a true impact on their daily lives.

Robin said...

This is one reason why I think abortion should not be a political issue. It's a personal issue between a woman and her doctor (and sometimes the spouse/partner).

My concerns are financial and education.