16 October 2008

McCain Doesn't Think Much of Women

During the final presidential debate last night, I muttered imprecations at the computer at various points.

Asked about his running mate's qualifications to be president, Sen. McCain said, "Well, Americans have gotten to know Sarah Palin. They know that she's a role model to women and other -- and reformers all over America."

First off there's the issue of the syntax. "Americans" know that Palin "is a role model to women." McCain not include "women" when he thinks of "Americans." The people he considers his constituents are the male members of society; women are an afterthought.

At any rate: Sorry, Senator, I do not see Gov. Palin as a role model. I do not see a former beauty pageant contestant and journalism major who can't name a newspaper she reads as a role model. As a college professor, I'm very aware of the potential for abuses of power in heirarchical institutions, and I do not see as a role model someone who abuses her position to attempt to get people fired. As an environmentalist, I do not see as a role model someone who has five children, flies airplanes and drives snowmobiles for sport, and doesn't believe that humans have impacted climate change, as a role model. (Remember Zero Population Growth?)

McCain didn't, by the way, answer the question. He didn't say that he thinks Palin is qualified to be president. He said, "She'll be my partner."

But it was Sen. McCain's sneer as he uttered the phrase "health for the mother" that got me really yelling bad things. (Fortunately, I didn't wake The Offspring.)

Bob Schieffer asked Obama and McCain to explain their positions on abortion. Obama discussed the issue in terms of seeking "common ground" by attempting to prevent unwanted pregnancies and provide real support for women with unplanned pregnancies. He added, "Nobody's pro-abortion. I think it's always a tragic situation." (Folks, birth control fails, even when used by married couples.) In response to McCain's statement that he had failed to vote in favor of a ban on "partial-birth abortion," he said:
I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there's an exception for the mother's health and life, and this did not contain that exception. And I attempted, as many have in the past, [to] includ[e] that so that it is constitutional. And that was rejected, and that's why I voted present, because I'm willing to support a ban on late-term abortions as long as we have that exception.

McCain's response was an outrage.
Just again, the example of the eloquence of Senator Obama. He's health for the mother. You know, that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America
to mean almost anything. That's the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, "health."
He sneered when he said that. John McCain sneered at the idea that a woman's health is of importance.

The world has changed a lot since John McCain was born 72 years ago. The roles of men and women have undergone widespread shifts.

When McCain was born, women could be excluded from serving on juries. The minimum wage only applied to men. Waitresses weren't allowed to work at night.

When McCain graduated from college, it was legal to pay a woman less than a man for the identical job. In fact, employers didn't even have to hire women. Laws in many states prohibited married couples from using birth control. Yes, abortion was illegal. It was legal for a man to rape a woman ... if he was married to her. A woman could get fired from her job if she got pregnant. Bosses groped their employees, and worse, but the term "sexual harrassment" hadn't been invented. Many of the nation's elite colleges and universities accepted only male students.

Society has changed, but John McCain has not. His patronizing, exclusionary comments indicate his profound disrespect for women's rights and women's contributions to society.