February 16 2012

Help! North Carolina is Waging "War on Women!"

Hadley Heath

So, I found out that Republicans in DC are waging a war on women.  Panicked, I thought of fleeing to my relatives in North Carolina... only to find out there's a war on women there too!  What's a girl to do?

The most recent cries of sexism in the Old North State come from Democrats who are worried that Republicans (now in the majority and in control of the redistricting process) are intentionally trying to get rid of female lawmakers by double-bunking them or otherwise drawing their districts differently to make reelection difficult.

Chris Fitzsimon, of the progressive group NC Policy Watch writes:

Democratic legislators were clearly targeted, as you'd expect in a partisan district plan, but Republican legislative leaders seemed especially eager to target Democratic women in the General Assembly for defeat.

Fitzsimon goes on to tie the "sexist" Republican redistricting to a laundry list of other Republican wrongs such as cutting funding to Planned Parenthood and making other cuts in education and Medicaid.

Davidson County's The Dispatch and UNC-Chapel Hill's Daily Tar Heel have also reported that the new lines "hurt women."  According to the DTH, Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe, said, 

“We were all struck by the message sent that women were not valued in the legislature as much as they should be.”

The NC Democratic Party put out a video, with soft, sad piano music in the background featuring women from the party discussing the "targeting" of women.  The video is featured on Jezebel.com in a story headlined, "Republicans in NC want to resegregate their state and kick women out of office."  Wow.  Jezebel writes:

It drastically reduces the number of women who will hold elected office in the state's Senate and House, collectively called the General Assembly. According to one estimate, if the new boundaries are accepted, 40 percent of Democratic women in North Carolina's General Assembly will face almost certain defeat. That is a big number, y'all.

Forty percent may be a big number, but let's look at the sample size:  There are only 25 Democratic women serving in the General Assembly right now anyway.  Also, two-thirds of the women in the NCGA are Democrats, so it's not surprising that Republicans want them to lose their seats.  This has to do with party, not gender.

As John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation pointed out, Republicans didn't pass up any opportunities to target Democratic men:

To suggest that the Republican line-drawers waged a war on women, you have to believe that they passed up easy victories against Democratic men in order to produce electoral threats to Democratic women. There is no evidence whatsoever for this ludicrous proposition. The GOP set out to maximize their 2012 prospects – period. 

His thoughtful, in-depth examination of the redistricting process is here.

Our own Karin Agness spoke to the Daily Caller about this issue and her thoughts are:

“I do not think that the GOP has it out for women,” said Agness. “I think that the Republican and Democratic parties have different visions as to what is good for Americans and women. Those are being fought out. Redistricting is a fight that is going on all over the country… This is part of the fight."

I have one more thing to say about all this: Can we please cut it with the "war on women" jargon? The NC Democratic Party video calls this redistricting an "assault" on women and calls their agenda "cruel."  Assault? Cruel?

Listen, Sarah Palin took a lot of heat for her "crosshares" comment before a lunatic shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  That shooting was an act of violence.  It really was assault.  It really was cruel.  It was tragic.

You know what else is tragic?  Honor killings.  Female genital mutilation.  Forced marriage.  These practices are condoned and even embraced in some foreign countries.  Let's think twice about saying America or North Carolina is waging a "war on women."  In other parts of the world women face systemic, institutionalized violence and are forced into lives of oppression. That's a war on women.  It's not a war on women that we might have to pay $15 a month for birth control pills or that one party, heavy on women, is going to lose some seats in the NCGA.  Had Republicans not taken the majority in 2010, Democrats would be in control of NC redistricting.  Voters spoke, and this is part of the consequences.  It's not war.  It's politics!

I'm thankful to live in a place where there's no real war on women.  Not in DC.  Not in NC.  Not in the USA.

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