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Friday, 29 January 2016 05:16

Misogyny Persists in 2016 Politics as Backlash to Partial Advances for Women

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aaaaaaaaaaaaapatriarchyThe patriarchal backlash continues. (Photo: Christopher Dombres)

Yesterday, we detailed recent overt racist statements made by Maine's Tea Party Governor Paul LePage.

The last 70 years of political history has seen a recurring backlash by a significant segment of the United States' white population against progressive advances, including: an increased number of rights for people of color, advances in rights and equality for women, steps toward addressing the degradation of the environment, recognition of a secular society and the promotion of alternatives to heartless capitalism. 

However, these steps forward have been the beginning of a process, not its completion. For more than two decades, progress on these fronts has run into a brick wall of opposition - and in many cases, a rollback of rights and freedoms.

This backlash has consistently returned to the assertion of white Christian male privilege. That in large part explains why Donald Trump used his media celebrity status to make a national event out of John Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne, endorsing him in "the Duke's" hometown last week in Winterset, Iowa. Here was a woman endorsing Trump on behalf of the mythical, patriarchal, racist and - of course - sexist Wayne.

When it comes to women, Trump's misogynist attacks on Fox anchor Megyn Kelly - including his boycott of the GOP debate last night, supposedly because she was a moderator - and his sneering remarks about Hillary Clinton's biological functions as a woman (as well as Kelly's) - are representative of white male patriarchal revulsion at the advancement of women.

One of the most visibly ongoing assaults on women is the neverending attack on a woman's right to choose an abortion. This has most recently been evident during the right wing's rampage against Planned Parenthood, which has employed doctored videos to make evidence-less allegations against the organization. Of course, as the Voice of America reports today, a "panel clears Planned Parenthood, [and a Texas grand jury] charges its accusers [two people who took the disputed videos]."  

State-level politics are certainly not immune to blatant sexism, either. Amanda Terkel reported in The Huffington Post this week about Ohio Republican state Sen. Tom Patton (seventh district) condescendingly applying a male double standard to a woman who is opposing him in the state GOP primary:

A prominent Ohio politician is questioning whether his female opponent is fit to serve, saying in a recent interview that she might not be up to the job because she's a "young gal" with children.

"The gal that's running against me is a 30-year-old, you know, mom, mother of two infants," Ohio Senate Majority Leader Tom Patton (R) said in a Jan. 18 interview on America's Work Force Radio.

"And I don't know if anybody explained to her we've got to spend three nights a week in Columbus," he added.

Needless to say, legislatures around the country and in Congress are filled with males with young children. Patton is implying that child-rearing is the obligation of a mother - ignoring that many fathers in the legislature are regularly absent from home. 

Patton's opponent, Republican Jennifer Harold, reprimanded him for referring to her as "sweetie" in his comments. She also pointedly noted that innumerable Ohio male politicians have young children, and that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who ran as Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate in 2012 and now is the Speaker of the House, has had three children born while he has been in Congress.

To further emphasize how embedded patriarchal privilege is in backlash politics, the head of the Republican county organization that includes Cleveland supported Patton's demeaning remarks. As Cleveland.com reports,

The head of the Cuyahoga County Republicans defended Senate Majority Leader Tom Patton's controversial comments questioning whether primary opponent Jennifer Herold should run for office as a young mother.

"These are not sexist or out-of-line comments," county party chair Rob Frost told radio host Bob Frantz on Thursday morning. 

These daily reminders of the struggle for full equality - regardless of gender, skin color, sexuality or economic position - may seem torrential and intractable at times. But of course, letting dismay turn the struggle for justice into passivity will only further entrench white patriarchy. As this week's Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week reminds us, "When We Fight, We Win!"

Not to be reposted without permission of Truthout.