Whether The ‘War On Women’ Was Real Or Not, Female Voters Struck Down Ignorance On Election Day

woman votingThroughout this election cycle, we’ve seen politician after politician from the Republican party make ignorant and insensitive comments about women. With each statement, we’ve had to shake our heads and wonder how men who don’t seem to understand half of the country could ever hope to represent any group of constituents. During yesterday’s election, it looks like female voters stood up and let these thoughtless candidates know just how powerful our votes are.

The first victory last name came from my home state of Indiana, where Joe Donnelly beat out the once-favored Richard Mourdock. Mourdock ruined his chances of heading to the Senate when he said during a debate that pregnancy from rape was something that “God intended to happen.”

The large contest that everyone seemed to be watching was that of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” set off the wave of disgusting comments that plagued conservatives throughout the summer and fall. While it was originally assumed that Akin saying women’s bodies were about “shut down” a pregnancy that resulted from rape would completely destroy his chance of winning, the race had gotten closer in recent weeks. Akin earned back the support of the GOP Senatorial committee, won endorsements, and came within two points of his opponent Claire McCaskill in the polls. Thankfully, McCaskill pulled out the victory to head back to the Senate.

However, it wasn’t just the big name races that pulled national attention where thoughtless comments about rape, abortions, or women in general had an impact. Across the board, where we say offensive comments about women, we saw defeat. Roger Rivard, who was winning his race for Wisconsin state legislator lost out after he explained an old adage from his grandfather that “some girls rape easy.” Joe Walsh lost his re-election bid for the House of Representatives after claiming that abortion for the life of the mother was never medically necessary. Of course, thousands of women who have had to make that heart-wrenching call disputed Walsh’s absurdly incorrect statement.

Maryland Representative Roscoe Bartlett lost his re-election bid after multiple statements that had to leave female citizens frustrated. First, he proved that he didn’t understand abortion or women’s reproductive health by claiming that sex-selective abortions were a much bigger issue than pregnancy from rape. He further ruined his chances by saying that, “when we drove the mother out of the home into the workplace and replaced her with the television set, that was not a good thing.” There are a number of problems with that statement, like the fact that mothers chose to work, they weren’t “driven” to it. And of course, working mothers are not a bad thing. Bartlett was the second longest serving member of the House, but I’m not sure we’ll all be sad to see him go.

Even controversies that seem to draw little national attention had big impacts. Tom Smith, the Pennsylvania Senate candidate who compared his daughter getting pregnant out of wedlock to getting pregnant from rape, lost against his Democratic opponent last night.

Of course, the biggest rebuke of the “War on Women” last night happened at the top of the ballot. President Obama, who has been a vocal supporter of women’s rights throughout his presidency, won re-election. He defeated Mitt Romney, who has an uneven and inconsistent record when it comes to women’s reproductive health. And also, you have to remember that Paul Ryan shares many of the extreme views championed by Akin, Mourdock, and Walsh. In fact, Ryan worked on legislation with some of them to redefine rape for legislative purposes and to introduce a Federal Personhood bill.

There was a lot of talk about the women’s vote and it’s impact on this election. There was plenty of hand-wringing over the terminology ”War on Women” and whether it was appropriate or fitting. At the end of the day though, it didn’t matter what you called it. Women voters struck down those didn’t seem to understand how our bodies work, what choices we hold dear, or how rape and pregnancy effects all of us.

Now, we’ll just have to see if the conservative base chooses to play it safe in the next election and completely ignore issues of reproductive health, or if they’ll attempt to move their party an inch or two closer to the middle. After all, we’ve seen that their current approach isn’t working.

(Photo: Lisa S./Shutterstock)

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  • LiteBrite

    I saw two things on social media that made me laugh this a.m.

    1). A picture of Todd Akin with the caption “When you’re a legitimate asshole women have a way of shutting that whole thing down.”

    2). Someone Tweeted “Not a good night for legitimate rape.”

    • Justme

      I can’t quite decide which one made me giggle more…

    • MommyK

      I saw that first picture you mentioned, and laughed so hard, then sent it to many friends.

    • Andrea

      I tried googling it, but I can’t find it!! Do you have a link maybe? Or a FB group that posted it?

    • LiteBrite

      Yeah, I couldn’t find it either. (And I’m usually a Zen Master at Goggling.) It was on my FB newsfeed this a.m. so I shared it with a few like-minded friends. Unfortunately I can’t access FB at work, so I can’t see where it originated from.

      I did see a pretty cool picture of Willy Wonka looking sarcastically fascinated with the caption, “Women who are legitimately raped can’t get pregnant? Tell me more about how women’s reproductive systems work, Todd Akin.” :)

    • LindsayCross

      I couldn’t find the first one you mentioned, but here’s one of my favorites. http://www.jocosob.net/2012/08/todd-akin-lied-about-force.html

    • LiteBrite

      I sent that pic to my Stars Wars-loving husband. :)

    • Andrea


    • LindsayCross

      I have to say. Koa tweeted me with the Mourdock news by saying, “#ByeMourdock #GodIntended.” It made me smile just a bit.

  • Rene D. Benoiton

    The govt has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. So said Cdn P.M. Pierre Trudeau in 1968. He himself was not in favour of abortion, but he felt it wasn’t the govt that should dictate policies on such matters. Mostly he wanted abortion to be removed from the criminal code

  • Jessie

    Just remember, it was a close presidential race and about 48% of voters voted for Romney, so it wasn’t a landslide victory for the president. Not to mention, I don’t believe there was a “war on women.” Just a couple of dumb ass senators who happened to be Republican.

    • Anonymous

      I agree! I hate that being a woman means I have been reduced down to so-called reproductive rights. I am not simply a uterus and don’t vote on a single dimension. Those senators said stupid things, but there are plenty of liberals that say misogynistic and dumb things as well.

    • JustAnotherLibrarian

      This isn’t a question of gaffes or ignorant statements, this isn’t even a matter of disagreeing with someone’s opinion. Because these aren’t just opinions, this ignorant crap is informing policy decisions that negatively impact women’s health.

      I hate that conservative women are coming out saying they’re more than their reproductive organs, as though this is just about sex, as though talking about women’s reproductive rights is something dirty. Gaining some measure of reproductive freedom was a huge boost for the women’s movement and toward equality (we’re not there yet, but we’re so much closer than we were even 100 years ago).

    • Gina

      I don’t want to trade all other freedoms for “reproductive freedom”. That’s why I vote libertarian. Sex isn’t dirty, but I worry more about things like Obama’s attacks on civil liberties, such as amping up the war on terror, (including starting another pointless conflict in Libya and authorizing indefinite detention for suspected terrorists), suggestions of attacks on free speech, gun ownership, and so on, the war on drugs – the list of issues goes on – far too much for him to make up for by throwing a bone to female voters in the form of the birth control mandate.

    • LiteBrite

      I would tend to agree there are other (more serious?) issues at stake than women’s reproductive rights; however, when a candidate for public office (e.g. Todd Akin) makes blatantly ignorant statements such as “women’s bodies have a way of shutting that whole thing down” based on a dubious theory, well, it’s going to make me question what other policy decisions he’s liable to make based on questionable information.

      Personally I would like to see the whole issue of women’s reproductive rights taken off the political table. All it does is muddy the waters. However, it’s too much of a hot button topic for either side to completely drop, I suppose.

    • Jen

      The justification that “liberals say the same stuff” is incorrect– seriously, google for some examples of mysogynistic, anti-science liberals, and you won’t find them. Why? because this was more than a couple of guys who hate women spewing off during their campaign. The fact is this is about the whole current definition of conservative: only middle-aged white males need apply. Women, minorities, gays, young people, and anyone else who is different basically needs to sign away their civil rights at the door. Rape and abortion and equal pay and equal health insurance are not women’s issues– they are civil rights issues. Ones that everyone should care about, not just women. And I think as you can see from the results of this election (Obama re-elected, three states passing marriage equality, pot being legalized in two states, first openly gay senator)– the times, they are a’ changing! Which is exactly why the conservative leadership are twisting facts, getting reactionary, and trying to dial things back to 1956.

  • http://profiles.google.com/arborliberatas Benjamin Coker

    Striking down ignorance is what the real world is going to do to the Obama administration.

  • K.

    GOP Issues 2012: legitimate rape, rape babies are a gift from God, binders of women, pregnant women are the same as pregnant farm animals, easy rape, women belong back in the home, single working mothers are a problem, abortion is not a reproductive issue, the life of a mother is never in jeopardy during pregnancy and birth, vaginal ultrasounds, de-fund Planned Parenthood, redefine rape, birth control shouldn’t have to be covered…

    “Now, we’ll just have to see if the conservative base chooses to play it
    safe in the next election and completely ignore issues of reproductive
    health, or if they’ll attempt to move their party an inch or two closer
    to the middle. After all, we’ve seen that their current approach isn’t


    Coming to you from the GOP 2016! Next stop: Suffrage.

  • Anonymous

    I am Libertarian (though it seems that other commenters have assumed I am simply “conservative”. My whole point was there are many more issues to vote on that are critical to our pursuit of happiness and enjoyment of liberty than all issues within the umbrella of “reproductive rights”. I vote primarily as a human being- not as a woman. Since when are women not supposed to be deeply concerned with taxes, foreign policy, and the deficit? Are these issues only men should concern themselves with while I am supposed to be focused on birth control and defining Personhood? When my vote aligns with conservative principles, women of more liberal persuasion claim my desire is to dial back our nation to the 1950s.

    Perhaps Mommyish should do a post on Conservative-shaming? Conservatives and liberals agree that there are serious issues facing our nation, fiscally and socially. We have different ideas of solving problems, and neither side should claim only the other party says stupid stuff.

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