This week’s Republican debate, unlike the previous two, didn’t give the GOP candidates many opportunities to denounce women’s reproductive rights and hurl invective at Planned Parenthood. Hosted by financial cable channel CNBC, the debate focused mostly on the usual “economic issues,” ignoring the fact that so-called “women’s issues” like the cost of child care, the minimum wage, paid sick leave, and the right to choose when and whether to become a parent are very much economic issues as well .
The Guardian noticed this glaring omission, noting that “the silence from the moderators was surprising at a moment when the two Democratic frontrunners have made guaranteed family leave a central plank of their platforms and Clinton has hammered her support for equal pay. The Republicans sharing the stage, by contrast, have mostly avoided these topics.” Pundits have criticized the debate moderators for failing to ask pointed questions and rein in the candidates when they interrupted or went over time.
One “women’s issue” that did come in the debate is the fact that women still earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Moderator Becky Quick asked what the candidates would do to close that gap, and all responded by attacking Obama and the Democrats. The one woman on stage, Carly Fiorina, said she would close the pay gap by mandating equal pay for equal work at all companies across America and instituting a strong enforcement mechanism to ensure that women weren’t being shuffled into part-time work and lower-paying job titles as a way for companies to get around the law.
Just kidding, she actually repeated the utterly debunked talking point that women accounted for 92 percent of the jobs lost during Obama’s second term, implying that the President was to blame for women’s job losses and, apparently, the pay gap. As Media Matters details, the 92 percent figure originated during Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, and was based on cherry-picked data and the fact that the recession, which occurred earlier, was much harder on men than women, and most of the new jobs in the recovery went to men.
As you probably heard, former vice-presidential candidate and current P90X enthusiast Paul Ryan is the new Speaker of the House, an albatross of a job that no one wanted because Tea Party members have made clear they’ll block any legislation that deviates even slightly from their extreme right-wing ideological agenda.
So what does Ryan’s ascension mean for women’s health? Yahoo! Health takes a look at Ryan’s record and, spoiler alert, it isn’t pretty. The incoming Speaker has a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee for voting against choice on every one of his 59 votes on reproductive rights. Ryan has also sponsored “personhood” legislation giving fertilized eggs the same rights as human beings, opposed contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act, and sponsored legislation that would have allowed hospitals to refuse to provide even lifesaving abortions. Shockingly, some in the Tea Party have questioned whether he’s sufficiently anti-choice, which tells you a lot about the current state of the Republican Party in Congress.
Finally, although harassment in gaming may seem a bit afield of reproductive rights, silencing women who speak out against threats of violence in one field has widespread implications for women’s voices in general, so please indulge me in an item about, yes, Gamergate.
You might think that a massive media festival that is more than capable of providing security for its high-profile panelists, guests, and entertainers could protect a few female panelists who received death threats for speaking out against threats and harassment in gaming. You’d be wrong.
This week, South by Southwest, the annual music, arts, and tech conference in Austin, canceled a panel on online harassment in gaming (titled, “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games”) in response to threats of violence and harassment against the panelists by people associated with Gamergate, a group known for promoting and participating in online and in-person harassment of women who write about gaming and female game programmers.
You read that right: Instead of ensuring that women in gaming could talk safely about efforts to silence their voices online, SXSW chose to silence them in real life.
Festival planners explained this gobsmackingly boneheaded move by claiming that “preserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful.” Chris Klewe, writing for Sports Illustrated’s The Cauldron, had this to say about that cowardly response:
You run a festival that features A-list celebrities and tech magnates worth collective billions, superstar athletes, and some of the biggest music acts in the world, and you’re telling me you can’t provide security for a panel of three women? That it’s beyond your resources to hire any sort of police presence when you shut down entire sections of Austin at a time? That the unceasing vitriol these brave individuals face on a daily basis is just too much for your tender feelings to deal with, when you’ve experienced the merest fraction of that torrent of filth they’re forced to endure?