And to lesbians and to immigrant women and really to anyone who isn’t wealthy, straight, white, and preferably male and Christian. Because that’s what you’re doing when you’re supporting the presidential aspirations of anti-feminist wingnut Michele “Kill the Poor” Bachmann. And yes, The New Agenda, a nonpartisan women’s activist group, is actually urging women to vote for Bachmann, or Palin, should she throw her hat in the ring.
For those not familiar with this organization’s history, The New Agenda was founded by former Wall Street executive Amy Siskind in the aftermath of the 2008 election. Siskind, a longtime Democrat, supported Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Primary and, like many of us, was appalled by the sexist treatment of first Clinton, then Palin. And so The New Agenda was created to combat sexism and elect more women to political office. Laudable objectives to be sure, except for one thing: The politics of the women they champion appear to be irrelevant; simply being equipped with a vagina is all it takes to win the support of The New Agenda.
As a result, Siskind’s organization routinely supports conservative candidates whose policies do enormous harm to huge segments of the female population. Such as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who championed the nation’s toughest photo ID law in an effort to disenfranchise low income voters (who tend to vote Democratic). Cheering on Bachmann, however, is a little surprising, even for The New Agenda.
For one, Bachmann is an outspoken anti-feminist who believes wives must obey their husbands. But no worries! Siskind explains that while Bachmann may not be a feminist, she’s definitely “pro-woman”! In fact, feminism is kinda passé; the new “pro-woman” movement is where it’s at!
With Bachmann at the helm of this new movement, one can only assume that the top priorities of “pro-woman” activists must be as follows:
- Increase low income women’s vulnerability to rape, domestic violence, homelessness, sexual harassment and exploitation by increasing their poverty.
- Defund the limited health care options of low income women so they will die sooner and save wealthy taxpayers some dough.
- Prevent low income women from accessing affordable birth control and force them into the hands of back-alley butchers when they must abort a pregnancy they didn’t want or can’t afford.
- Ensure that undocumented immigrant women have no recourse against violence and exploitation by making law enforcement check the immigration status of suspected “illegals.”
- Repeal hate crime statutes and promote violence and discrimination against lesbian and bisexual women by calling them satanic and claiming they prey on children.
- Strengthen patriarchy by encouraging men to take charge and wives to submit to their husbands.
If those are pro-woman policies, I wonder what anti-woman policies would look like.
Of course Siskind and her well-off friends won’t be the targets of these policies; they may even benefit financially from Bachmann’s efforts to increase income inequality. Could they really be so ignorant as to believe that what’s good for them is good for all women? Or do they just not care?
Income inequality and wealth disparities in the United States are comparable to Third World countries, and our economy is in shambles as a result. But as far as Bachmann is concerned, the working poor still make too much money. The top 25% own 90% of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 25% own nothing at all? Not good enough for Bachmann. She won’t rest until ALL the wealth is in the hands of the top 25%. Or better yet, the top 10%!
Sadly, I’m not kidding. Although the current minimum wage isn’t nearly enough for a full-time worker to live on, Bachmann thinks it’s too high! She is considering eliminating that pesky minimum wage altogether. And since the rich in this country just aren’t rich enough, she would also cut taxes on corporate income and capital gains (via Echidne). Uneffingbelievable!
Neither Bachmann nor Palin has much of a chance being elected President. And yet it bothers me that there are feminists who are so caught up in their desire for increased female representation that they don’t care how much their preferred candidate’s policies hurt less privileged women. I don’t deny that there would be some value simply in having a female President, if only so little girls (and boys) would no longer react with skepticism or disbelief when told that women can become President. But, frankly, if you think that’s more important than the lives of low income women, undocumented immigrants, lesbians, and others targeted by Bachmann’s policies, you may want to reevaluate your priorities.
Unfortunately there will be Bachmann opponents who’ll ignore her loathsome policy positions and use sexism to attack her instead. And then it will be up to feminists like me to come to her defense. To be honest, it won’t be easy to defend a woman whose policies are designed to inflict enormous suffering on women like me. But I’ll do it. Not because I give a damn about Michele Bachmann, but because using sexism against any woman hurts all women.