I was prepared to give the War on Women a rest until my husband asked me at breakfast if I’d caught Gloria Steinem’s interview with Chris Matthews before the presidential debate. The man knows my propensity to rant about rights. By the way, we consider ranting a positive and passionate form of self-expression in our family. A man with three opinionated daughters and a granddaughter, he’s all for women’s rights. He found the recorded Gloria Steinem segment for me. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/49509696#49509696
As with any subject having to do with women, Gloria, who isn’t a big ranter, provided a wise, calm and new take on what is at risk in this election. To oppose fair pay and reproductive rights is not just a war on women, she said. It is a war on the country and specifically on the economy.
Turn it around, give women equal pay and it would be the “biggest economic stimulus this country could possibly have,” she said. She came up with some pretty big numbers that would be added to the average woman’s paycheck if all things were more equitable. Altogether it would bring $200 billion more into the economy.
And how would a woman who is suddenly bringing home as much as a man for the same job using the same skills and having the same education spend her money? She smiled her sly, Gloria grin and said it would likely not go to China.
No, it would be going down the street into the local economy. Providing family maintenance items like school shoes and groceries and getting a nice haircut.
It was a simple and brilliant point. Women’s rights don’t stop with women. Women share. A working class woman is not going to take that long-awaited fair paycheck and fly off to the Cayman Islands. Maybe she’ll buy rain boots.
And then there’s that other essential guarantee that women need to help boost the economy.
“The biggest indicator of whether a woman can work or not, be educated or not, be healthy or not is reproductive control,” said Gloria. “And that is an economic issue.”
So, maybe it’s not your style to get all in a sweat over women’s rights being dragged back to the 1950s. Take a more selfish stance, then.
Think of what more women making more money would mean to your business. More families taking the kids out for frozen yogurt. More businesswomen bringing their pantsuits into your dry cleaners.
It is folly, as Gloria said, to think “that economic issues only apply to white guys.”
Nor are reproductive issues solely a woman’s issue. A doctor friend of mine named Kathy wonders why men are keeping so quiet in the war on women. Most men are no more interested in unwanted pregnancy than women, she points out. They too want an uncomplicated sex life, whether in a committed relationship or not. Men surely would be adversely impacted by tampering with women’s reproductive rights.
“Where are the men in this?” Kathy asks. “Why aren’t they sticking up for the women they love?”
Gloria Steinem called Mitt Romney the candidate “most destructive to equality” that she’s ever seen. Asked why women today would vote for someone who has said he would get rid of abortion and obstruct birth control and give property rights to a fertilized egg, Gloria is as flummoxed as a lot of us.
She told Chris Matthews, Republican women say to her, “Oh, he’d never do that.”
Hmm. And which Mitt Romney would that be?