The Right's Contempt for Women

You really have to wonder why some of the leading voices on the right have such a difficult time hiding their contempt for women.

This weekend, for example, the Houston Chronicle reported that Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of the influential far-right website RedState, admitted he had been wrong when he called First Lady Michelle Obama a “Marxist harpy wife.” But he expressed dismay that his description of state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, as “Abortion Barbie” might be offensive:

“The phrase was intentional to discredit Wendy Davis, but I never thought about ‘Barbie’ being something that demeaned women. I have an 8-year-old daughter who loves Barbie.”

Oh sure. Equating an accomplished attorney and elected official with a pretty-woman doll known for her remarkable figure, cute outfits and popularity among girls in elementary school? And using that to create a dismissive moniker for someone who opposes government interference in women’s reproductive health care? Gosh, who would be offended by any of that?

Erickson isn’t that stupid, but maybe he thinks everyone else is. In any case, he knows what he said is offensive. The problem is: he also knows that kind of misogynistic rhetoric is red meat for the far-right base.

And RedState’s attacks on Texas women aren’t limited just to Wendy Davis. Last week another post on RedState took aim at Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder of Whole Woman’s Health. Whole Woman’s Health offers abortion care to women but has been closing some of its clinics in Texas after the Legislature passed draconian an anti-abortion bill (House Bill 2) last year. Comparing those clinics to Nazi death camps, writer Steve Berman calls Hagstrom Miller a “monster” and a “witch.” And this:

“If Wendy Davis is, as Erick has so aptly bestowed upon her, ‘Abortion Barbie,’ then Amy Hagstrom Miller … is the High Priestess of the Coven of Death.”

Berman’s piece even repeats the discredited myth, manufactured and promoted by right-wing activists, that opponents of that anti-abortion bill last year brought jars of urine and feces to the Texas Capitol in protest. Berman calls those protesters “deranged.”

That’s how the right views women who think government has no business interfering in the personal decisions they make with their doctors about whether or when to have children.

7 thoughts on “The Right's Contempt for Women

  1. Dan,
    You captured the exact reason that guys like this can get away with saying what they do when you said that, “Erickson isn’t that stupid, but maybe he thinks everyone else is.” He know who the Republican base is and is not above pandering to them.

    1. This is going to get some people mad. [To cut the number down, let me say that I am NOT breaking Godwin’s Law here. I am not calling Republicans ‘fascists’ because they aren’t. They are not that organized, there are much bigger splits within the groups that are using similar techniques than it appears to the casual onlooker, and many of them are using the technique for the simple reason that we can be counted to fall for it. The term ‘fascist’ has been overused and under-understood for almost a century. It is not the same — at all — as a rightwing religious dictatorship of the Nehemiah Scudder type, it is not the same as a corporate oligarchy trying hard to become a ‘true aristocracy’ nor is it ‘the last stage of capitalism.’ It is — I would argue — specifically a right-wing populist, nationalist youth movement, led by a leader who is believed in some mystical way, to be in tune with the ‘Spirit of the Nation.’ This was true not merely of Italian Fascism and German Nazism, but of all the failed fascist movements that arose in every European country in the 20s and 30s — and, if you include the ‘2nd Klan’ in the US as well.]

      But the right IS using the classic fascist technique of the ‘Big Lie’ and if you think you know what that is, please read at least the Wikipedia quote from Hitler about using the technique. It reminds us all that it is, in large part, the sheer audacity and the total lack of factual content to the lie that makes it so effective.

      The American Right has always used lies, but this type of lie — in any but the farthest fringes — seems to have started with the Falwell-distributed anti-Clinton video, and has mushroomed a hundred fold in the past six years.

      And, Swinedance, you show us one reason why the technique works. Because we’ve never felt the power of the technique, we tend to dismiss the people who fall for it. There is even a snobbish ‘we don’t have to worry about people dumb enough to fall for that‘ attitude which eventually leads us to ‘blame the victim.’

      Rather than learning to perceive the technique, recognize it, and fight against it, we throw up our hands, put every voter in a district into the same box, and don’t waste time or money learning how to fight against the technique.

      And then we are shocked when a group we thought were ‘smarter than that’ are the next group to fall for it.

      I have more to say, but in a separate comment.

      1. Those of you who are of the ‘just have patience and they’ll all die out’ school, who see the right as a ‘bunch of angry OLD men’ should remember that Hitler was 42 when he took office, Mussolini was 39, and they were both older than most of their followers. These were really the most successful examples of a true ‘revolutionary youth movement’ in the last century — as much as we like to think that only we of the left have the right to sing “The Future Belongs to Us.”

        But we can’t fight back until we learn the technique, learn that. instead of simply dismissing the lies as absurdities, we have to confront them, wherever they pop up, and start being so ‘crude’ and ‘impolite’ as to begin to put the liars on the defensive. We have to be sympathetic to the victims of the lies instead of being dismissive of them — and yes, even if they have bigotries and stupidities that make them easy prey for the preachers and radio talkers.

        On more comment, because concrete examples are always useful. If you’ve never done this, if you only think you know what happened, download the transcript of the Sandra Fluke testimony. Then read the 46 lies Limbaugh told about her in the next three shows — that is on Media Matters, btw.

        Compare the two, and you’ll understand exactly what Hitler meant when he described the technique.

        1. I see another great difference between the RW movement of the first half of the 20th century and the RWers these days. A lot of the leaders of then actually believed their own ideology, it was not just means to an end. These days I see very few in the leadership of RW movements, esp. the established ones, that I think of as true believers (and the few that are tend to be actual morons, some even in the clinical sense). Just ask yourself: How many of the loudmouths of today would be willing to become martyrs for the case for real?

  2. Welllll,….
    “Caribou Barbie” isn’t any better. The person it was applied to is several orders of magnitude dimmer than Ms. Davis, but our side doesn’t need to fling poo just because the Right does.

    1. Agreed. The only justification in that case might be that said person did use her body image after already being in office. Her past as a swimsuit model is out of bounds, her Sports Illustrated photo stretch is imo fair game (same for some other politicians, both
      male and female).

  3. Yes, and the really weird thing is that women make up something like 52 or 54 percent of the population—and they vote. You would think someone might mention that candidates need more to win an election than just the few far right Neanderthals who are going to vote for them no matter what. But here’s the thing. The Tea Party thinks other Republicans have wounded them, and they might “take their widdo toys and weave the sandbox if they don’t get tweeted better.” So, the party machine is left in the unfortunate position of having to throw red meat to these knuckle draggers and risk—did I say “risk”—alienate independent voters and voting women who are not married to knuckle draggers. It’s a classic case of “D” if you do and “D” if you don’t. Either way, the women will “D” them in the butt this fall.