‘War on women’ narrative is risky business

Despite what feminist groups would have the White House believe, playing gender politics this election cycle is risky business. Democrats are hoping that by advancing the “war on women” narrative, they can drive the conversation away from the lagging economy and voters away from the GOP.
 
No doubt Democrats are worried. In 2010 Republicans managed to close the gender gap for the first time in the two decades, since analysts started recording the split. It’s hard to know exactly why women flocked to Republicans during the midterm election. It may have been a function of the high number of female candidates running on limited-government platforms; it may have been the influence of the Tea Party — a grassroots movement run largely by women — that motivated more female voters to the polls. Either way it sent a shockwave through Democratic circles.
 

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But the effort by the White House to position Republicans as openly hostile to women is not only absurd, but also doomed to be a failed strategy. President Obama and Democrats have tried to create a caricature of conservatives in which opposition to the Health and Human Services “contraception mandate” means Republicans are trying to take away women’s birth control and reverse gender roles 50 years.
 
While this may play to their feminist base, it’s destined to fail with female voters at large. Contrary to what groups like NOW suggest, women today are not interested in playing identity politics; rather, they are focused on the same things as men, namely job creation and economic growth, the growing national debt, healthcare reform and rising gas prices and energy policy.
 
Steeped in crony capitalism, however, the White House is too busy picking winners and losers to make any meaningful economic improvements that would benefit women and their families. In fact, they have actively engaged in policies that will work against women and limit their choices.
 
For instance, the president turned down a golden opportunity to create an estimated 20,000 new jobs, increase oil supply and drive down energy prices when he nixed the Keystone XL pipeline. The White House hasn’t touched our massive entitlement programs, which are in large part to blame for our national debt. What’s more, women currently suffer under these outdated entitlements, which were designed to fit the 1935 family structure and don’t address the needs of modern women and their families. While women’s groups lobbied for specific advantages like mandated paid contraception in ObamaCare, these kinds of negotiations actually hurt women who will pay sorely for this massive bill through higher taxes and fewer choices. And what about the White House’s attempt to intervene in food policy, where it recently took it upon itself to judge home-packed lunches, giving women even less control over how they choose to feed their families?
 
Despite all this, Democrats continue to charge that Republicans are the ones at war with women.
 
The women’s-liberation movement intended to draw attention away from women’s bodies; but today Democrats are the only ones still talking about women’s “issues.” Despite all the many educational and professional achievements women have made, Democrats seem committed to keeping the conversation focused on our bodies. And that’s the biggest attack on women by far.

 
Sabrina L. Schaeffer is the executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum.