October 29 2012
Hoff Sommers on Obama and the Women's Lobby
What happened to the idealistic feminist movement that scored important victories for women?
It turned into a hard-nosed, K Street-style interest group that has demanded and received special favors from the Obama White House.
Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and friend of IWF, writes:
The Affordable Care Act mentions “breast” 44 times, “prostate” not once. It also establishes an elaborate and expensive network of special programs to promote women’s health. Programs for men are nowhere to be found. What explains the imbalance?
When President Obama took office, he promised to insulate his administration from organized lobbyists. Yet, from day one, he granted the women’s lobby unprecedented influence. The results should trouble fair-minded feminists.
The 2009 stimulus program set the pattern. The president had originally called for a two-year “shovel-ready” plan to modernize roads, bridges, electrical grids, and dams. Women’s activists were appalled. Op-eds appeared with titles like “Where Are the New Jobs for Women?” and “The Macho Stimulus Plan.” More than 1,000 feminist historians signed an open letter urging Mr. Obama not to favor a “heavily male-dominated field” like construction: “We need to rebuild not only concrete and steel bridges but also human bridges.” Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), attacked the “testosterone-laden ‘shovel-ready’ terminology.” Christina Romer, who chaired the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, would later say, “The very first e-mail I got . . . was from a women’s group saying, ‘We don’t want this stimulus package to just create jobs for burly men.’”
The president’s original plan was designed to stop the hemorrhaging in construction and manufacturing while investing in physical infrastructure. It was not a grab bag of gender-correct transfer programs. The whole idea was to get Americans back to work, and it was “burly men” who had lost most of the jobs following the financial collapse of 2008. But as protests mounted, the president’s team reconfigured the bill according to NOW’s specifications. In a column entitled “Economic Recovery: What’s NOW Got to Do with It?” Gandy could hardly contain her elation: “As we looked through the act, over and over we saw reflections of the very specific proposals that we had made, and with big numbers next to them. Numbers that started with a ‘B’ (as in billion).” To read Gandy’s column is to understand why shovels are still standing idle and the stimulus was such a disappointment.
The Affordable Care Act even created an Office of Women’s Health, a National Women’s Health Information Center, a Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health. The mandate that universities, even those run by religious-based groups that regard contraception as morally repugnant, provide coverage for free contraception was another outcome of lobbying by feminist organizations.
All of these expensive goodies are being provided for women at a time when men and boys are falling behind academically. The Affordable Care Act sets up programs for women, even though men typically have shorter life spans than women and a greater risk of developing cancer.
The Obama White House and campaign embraced these groups and their demands as an electoral policy.
We should be offended because, as Hoff Sommers sums up, this is “a travesty of the ideal of women’s equality.”