Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What I would have said (a short political soapbox)

I’ve been hearing a lot about Nikki Haley lately. If you haven’t, she’s the governor of South Carolina. An Indian-American Republican woman. I think I like her. She seems articulate, intelligent, friendly, and conservative. However, I saw a short clip of her appearance on The View today, and she was asked this question: Most people think of women as liberals. How do you reconcile being a woman and a Republican with conservative values? How does that reflect on women’s issues? (I’ve paraphrased the question.) Her answer was something along the lines of, “Women don’t care about contraception; they care about jobs, the economy, raising their families . . ..” In her defense I think what she meant was that women don’t care *only* about contraception, which the media are making into an enormous distraction from real issues, but her answer did not go over well. However, the question got me thinking, and I’d like to give a different answer. So, here’s what I would have said:

There is no such thing as a “woman’s issue.” There are just issues. If the media or anyone else were to characterize something as a “men’s issue,” women would have a conniption. Imagine if we called war a “men’s issue.” Or the stock market. Or firefighter safety. Anything that men do, or historically have, participated in more often than women. We would be outraged, and rightly so. Those things affect all of us, and we should all be entitled to have an opinion and a say regarding them.

The same is true of contraception. Abortion. Rape shield laws. All of the things that feminists tout as “women’s issues” affect us all. A woman may be the only one who can have an abortion, but a man fathered the child. The child would have grown up to be a man or a woman; we don’t know which. The woman who has the abortion has a father, perhaps a brother. Does it not affect them? What about the rest of the unnamed, unknown individuals whose lives may have been changed by the existence of the child who was never born? How about the husband whose wife can’t have children because of a complication from an abortion she had years before?

To say that abortion is a “woman’s issue” is absurd. All issues affect all people. Not to mention the fact that even if they don’t directly affect me, I can still have an opinion about them. My personal life is not affected very much by the child-trafficking industry in southeast Asia, but I certainly have an opinion about it.

You can come down on either side of an issue. Maybe you believe more strongly in a woman’s right to have an abortion. Maybe you believe more strongly in a child’s right to be born. Regardless of what gender you are, you get to choose which opinion to have. Don’t tell me I have to support abortion rights or that I must support a mandate for health care or contraception just because I am a woman.

The same is true of “race issues.” How dare we try to make all black people fit into a mold? A black man may be conservative; he may be liberal. A black woman may choose to send her child to public school; she may homeschool. She may support affirmative action; she may believe it is unconstitutional. Give her the option to use her God-given brain and form an opinion.

How would I reconcile being a woman and a conservative? Easy. I’m a person with an intellect, and I have used it to draw conclusions about what I support and what I do not. It’s called freedom, and I'm a fan of it.

No comments: