Opinion

The Great Debate

On the road to parity, where is the real debate?

At Tuesday’s debate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney offered glimmers of proof that when it comes to women’s economic parity, he takes a solidly conservative approach. However, in appealing to social conservatives, Romney’s personal stance may have been solidified at the expense of a host of real issues facing women. What Romney thinks of these, we do not yet know.

A question from a woman in the Town Hall-style audience asked specifically what each candidate would do about the fact that women currently earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. President Obama offered a cursory reference to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – heralded as one of his first great policy accomplishments, and one that addressed women’s economic issues.

Romney’s response, which offered no concrete policy position, included the following:

“I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said: ‘I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.”

He went on to discuss the need for better jobs for Americans in general. The specific question about pay inequity was left largely un-addressed.

A Sex Ed 101 curriculum for conservatives

Recent national kerfuffles over abortion and contraception access bring up many important questions: Should employers retain control over your wages and benefits after they sign them over to you? Is contraception, a service used by 99 percent of American women, really so controversial? How much state regulation should there be over women’s most private decisions? But amidst all those questions is one overarching one: Do conservatives need a crash course in sex ed?

Usually, when we think of the sex education debate, we think of junior high and high school kids putting condoms on bananas. But recent events indicate that this country needs remedial sex education for adults, specifically social conservatives who wish to hold forth on reproductive rights without seeming to know the basics regarding who has sex and how it works in 2012. With that in mind, I designed a quick curriculum for these surprisingly necessary courses.

Intercourse 101: It Takes Two to Tango. After voting for a mandatory ultrasound bill that serves no other purpose than to shame abortion patients for their sexuality, Virginia delegate David Albo complained in the legislature that he’s not getting the sex he feels entitled to from his wife. CNSNews columnist Craig Bannister shamed women on the pill for being “sex-crazed co-eds” who exhibit too much “sexual zeal” — before ending his piece by wistfully wishing he could have sex with all the sexually active women he just insulted. Rush Limbaugh, who is on his fourth marriage and is an admitted Viagra user, called Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who testified before Congress about her use of contraception, a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

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