Roundup: McCain, Obama Fighting for Womens’ Vote, Birth Control Measure in House

Brady Swenson

McCain, Obama stepping up efforts to win womens' vote, 100 House members add birth control measure to war funding bill, Debating the meaning of feminism.

Obama, McCain Battle for Women’s Votes … Barack Obama and John McCain are both stepping up efforts to win the womens’ vote. Carly Fiorina — former CEO for Hewlett-Packard and a McCain supporter — has scheduled a "female-focused" speaking tour on behalf of McCain in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Washington Post reports. The Post also reports that Obama is likely to include a new section on women’s issues in his stump speech aimed at healing divisions along gender lines that developed in the hard-fought Democratic primary.

"We’re not running against Hillary Clinton any longer, and that’s
not the choice women have to make," [
Obama senior adviser Anita Dunn] said yesterday. "[Voters are]
choosing between two candidates who have dramatically different records
on women’s issues, neither of whom are a woman."

Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-choice America, wrote an editorial published today predicting that John McCain will fail in the fight to win moderates on women’s issues. Her reason is simple, John McCain is an extremist on reprodutive rights and justice:

It is McCain’s record, his statements that Roe
should be overturned, his support of anti- choice Supreme
Court nominees and his 125 out of 130 anti-choice votes
in Congress (22 against women’s access to
family-planning services, including birth control) that will
ultimately push pro-choice moderate women vot ers,
regardless of party affiliation, to the pro-choice

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While McCain is trying to obfuscate his conservative record on these issues to win moderates and women he is constantly working against himself trying at the same time courting social conservatives who have been so critical to GOP presidential victories in the past two decades. Right Wing Watch reports that McCain recently "met privately" with Rev. Frank Pavone, a vociferous anti-choicer:

Pavone has come a long way since 2005, when he denounced McCain for
joining the so-called “Gang of 14” compromise over extreme judicial
nominees. “It is unfortunate that Senator McCain has joined those
senators who are trying to prevent godly men and women nominated by
their president and supported by a majority of senators from serving on
our nation’s courts,” Pavone said. “There is not going to be a church in America that is not going to know exactly who those senators are.”

House Attempts to Add Birth Control Measure to War Funding Bill … More than 100 House members are attempting to rectify a loophole created in a 2006 law that created a disincentive for drug
manufacturers to offer reduced-cost birth control drugs and devices to
some health centers by removing university clinics and private birth
control providers from the list of entities eligible for “nominal”
pricing under the Public Health Service Act. 

Debating Feminism … You should make time to read two well thought-out pieces on feminism today.  The first piece, appearing on AlterNet and written by Courtney from Feministing, examines Rebecca Walker’s recent essay describing ways she was neglected by mother Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple) and feelings that her mother’s proud feminism was partly to blame.  Courtney rejects Rebecca’s all-or-nothing view of feminism in the essay and offers up her more holistic interpretation:

Rebecca writes, "I believe feminism is an experiment, and all
experiments need to be assessed on their results. Then, when you see
huge mistakes have been paid, you need to make alterations." She’s
right about something — feminism is strong enough for vigorous
critique and constant reevaluation. But she’s mistakenly extrapolated
feminism’s failings from her own mother’s mistakes. It is not feminism
that made her mother an unsatisfying parent; it is her mother’s
personality, or at most, her misinterpretation of feminism’s vision.

feminism, the feminism of my mother and the daughters and mothers I
know, is one where women get to be whole human beings and committed
mothers (if they choose to have children). It is a world where there
are no "mommy wars;" both mothers and fathers earnestly struggle to
balance family and work together — with the help of communities,
neighbors, extended family members. It is a world where women don’t
have to put off bearing children until their biological clocks are
screaming, because they aren’t petrified that they won’t be supported
to be separate people once that umbilical cord forms. It is not the
land of polar opposites — selfish Alices or self-sacrificing Rebeccas;
it is a middle path of happy women.

My feminism doesn’t
extinguish my burning desire to one day bear and mother my own
children. It just makes my commitment to changing the world, so that
both my partner and I can be whole while parenting, all the more urgent.

The second piece you should check out is written by Thea Lim and appears at Racialicious.  Thea writes a relevant and timely critique of the Ferraro brand of feminism that insisted on contrasting race and gender and racism and feminism throughout the Democratic primary campaign, presumably to gain a political advantage, rather than seeing them for the seperate but often concurrent biases that they are:

This may seem like an obvious point, but I feel depressingly driven to
spell it out: I’m not a woman and a person of colour – I’m
simultaneously both. Usually when people are being sexist towards me,
they’re also being racist. I would like to fight both racism and
sexism. So why is feminism asking me to choose?




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