Trumpers And The Culture War

I love it when research confirms my suspicions.

A few days ago, I posted a rant about the hollowness of claims that de-funding Planned Parenthood was “pro life.” The assault on Planned Parenthood, which provides needed medical care to poor women, and the increasing efforts to limit access to birth control, struck me as far more “anti woman” than “pro life.”

Then I saw this column in The Guardian, reporting on recent survey results that support my thesis.

According to self-identified “pro-life” advocates, the fundamental divide between those who want to outlaw abortion and those who want to keep it legal comes down to one question: when does life begin? Anti-abortion advocacy pushes the view that life begins at conception; the name of their movement carefully centers the conceit that opposition to abortion rights is simply about wanting to save human lives.

A new poll shows that’s a lie. The “pro-life” movement is fundamentally about misogyny.

A Supermajority/PerryUndem survey released this week divides respondents by their position on abortion, and then tracks their answers to 10 questions on gender equality more generally. On every question, anti-abortion voters were significantly more hostile to gender equity than pro-choice voters.

More than half of the “pro life” survey respondents opined that men make better political leaders than women. More than half didn’t want to see equal numbers of men and women in positions of power. (Eighty percent of pro-choice respondents did want to see power shared equally.) “Pro life” respondents disapproved of the #MeToo movement. They disagreed with the proposition that diminished access to birth control has an impact on gender equality. And they didn’t believe that sexism or the way women are treated is an important issue.

That misogyny fits with what social science has found in the wake of the 2016 election.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, mostly white pundits wondered if Donald Trump’s white male base was motivated by “economic anxiety”. We heard this over and over: Trump voters aren’t the racist deplorables the liberal media (of which those same pundits were a part) makes them out to be. They’re decent people who have been hurt by free trade agreements, increasing Chinese economic dominance, the decimation of unions, a thinning social safety net, and stagnating wages. (Why those same people would then turn around and vote for a party that kills unions, tears up the safety net and blocks minimum wage raises while cutting taxes for CEOs went unexplained.)

Then came the social scientists – and whaddaya know? Trump voters weren’t motivated by economic anxiety as much as fear of “cultural displacement”. White Christian men (and many of their wives) were so used to their cultural, political and economic dominance that they perceived the ascension of other groups as a threat.

To put it in more straightforward terms, they were racist (and sexist), and saw in Trump a kindred spirit who would work for their interests – their primary interest being a symbolic reassertion of their cultural dominance.

The author reminds us that the American anti-abortion movement invented political gaslighting.  (As religious historian Randall Ballmer has documented, Evangelicals hadn’t thought much about abortion until defending their segregated schools became a harder political rallying point.)

Around the same time, women’s social roles were rapidly changing. The birth control pill brought with it an avalanche of opportunities and freedoms, and women, finally fully able to have sex for fun and prevent pregnancy, took full advantage. The ability to delay a pregnancy – and later, the ability to legally end one – meant that women didn’t have to choose between romance and ambition (and it meant women could be choosier about romance, making a more considered decision about who and whether to marry).

The survey confirmed the connection between “pro-life” and “anti-woman”.

More than three-quarters of anti-abortion respondents agreed that women “are too easily offended”. More than 70% of them agreed that women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist. Only 34% of them–as opposed to 82% of pro-choice respondents– said the country would be better off with more women in political office.

It’s hard to disagree with the author’s conclusion:

It’s not about “life.” It’s about the fact that abortion is inexorably tied to women’s freedoms and female power.

It’s about sexism.

15 thoughts on “Trumpers And The Culture War

  1. Does it strike anyone else as ironic that we fought a war to free ourselves from Great Britain but during this Trump fiasco of a presidency we seek this country’s news from them via their leading news source, The Guardian?

    “…the American anti-abortion movement invented political gaslighting.”

    “It’s not about “life.” It’s about the fact that abortion is inexorably tied to women’s freedoms and female power.”

    “It’s about sexism.”

    And our most powerful weapon against sexism; Ruth Bader Ginsberg, stepped forward again yesterday after treatment for her fourth battle against cancer. Has any man been that strong and that determined to support the true meaning of pro-life vs. anti-abortion? Our primary enemy (maybe) had heel spurs to avoid the draft; our primary shero is in her mid-80’s, fighting cancer and still on the front lines of this battle against Trumpers in this culture war.

  2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was once asked how many of the nine Supreme Court Justices she thought should be women. Her answer was nine. When the reporter looked surprised, she said that no one thinks is odd when all nine are men, so why anyone be surprised at the thought that all nine might be women? Anyone who expresses surprise at that thought is displaying his (almost always a “him”) attitudes (sometimes subconscious, sometimes not) about women.

  3. They aren’t “pro-life.” They’re “pro-birth.” They aren’t just racist and misogynist, they also fundamentally hate the poor.

  4. All comments today are spot on. The driving force behind Republican politics is power and the control over others that it provides. The power and control of women has been going on before the Bible was written. The Bible, and all “modern” religious books call for the control of women. Clearly, then, this mindless assault on women is a cultural imperative developed by some fairy tales written by ignorant people who self-ordained themselves to write this nonsense and disseminate it as if it were the word of God.

    The attacks continue outward from this main theme, as Peggy points out. Republicans despise and fear the poor, because they are the visible evidence of their actions against equality and fairness. Republicans are predicated on hypocrisy and expediency to their agenda. They care not a whit about people they see as lesser beings. That kind of arrogance simply cannot be part of our body politic.

  5. It all comes down to Male Authoritarianism, which exists all over the world. Some organized Religions “sanctifies” this second class citizenship. Woman are not permitted to be in positions of power. The Evangelical bible thumper’s and Roman Catholic Church are the cutting edge of institutional and cultural second class citizenship for women.

    The greatest fears these reactionary religions have is Science. Science educates you to think critically. At it’s core Science forces you to ask questions and then prove your answers from hypothesis to theory. The Evangelical bible thumper’s and Roman Catholic Church teaches and reinforces blind belief and these beliefs are carefully guided and enforced by Male Authoritarian figures.

  6. As a white, heterosexual, Christian (if anything), male, American I had to work for what I have achieved but never had a door, real or virtual, shut in my face for any of those things that I was born with and into with no contribution on my part.

    If I thought that I was the center of human culture I would join the fight to hang onto those advantages that have entitled me. If I had lived my whole life in a more rural low feedback place I might have turned out that way.

    However I am insanely curious and the combination of things out of my control and those things within my control showed me that many others not like me created the world as it evolved around me as much as those like me have and it’s all about the whole world not my world.

    I’m also enough of a science nut to be anxious to see what we can all yet do with our combined talents (even though I lost my main career once to progress but again had the good fortune to not have trouble inventing a replacement out of what I had learned). More luck and entitlement.

    I want to be part of progress. I want the future to be better for many more people than those like me. I’m willing to buy virtual or real insurance to share the biggest of all of life’s real risks to help anyone born with or encountering much less good fortune than me.

    I see no reason why all of those things can’t be done except for those who only want better for themselves and identical others.

  7. Pascal and Monotonous are spot on with their respective commentaries, and it isn’t just religious figures who reinforce second class citizenship for women. Take a look at the business community, the military community, and others (though there is some give to both just lately). Thus why aren’t there Catholic priestesses? Boeing CEOs et al? Perhaps soon there will be, but how does that atone for the centuries of mistreatment due to presence of one chromosome? It doesn’t. To do > Ceaselessly agitate for all irrespective of sex, color, religion, and other manufactured artificial constructs.

  8. centuries of male dominance has only been passed down,until the free movement of the 60s, the pill did open a new world,but exploited still by a pro male dominance. through my life I seen the changes,and stepped aside and watched. the growing movement of women was slow,and media only ignored it as a fad..until women did enter office.. in the navy i was visiting some new aquaintences,and they were the,so called holy rollers.. i heard of the church,and hear say about the meetings,,i was invited in, i wasnt ammused or moved..sorta had a whathefuck moment..at 19 and bullet proof,in the vietnam era. another experience,i gladly walked away from immediately.. judgement, lack of tollerance,immaginary whatevers,and some fool with his hand on someones head shaking it as all said repent….demeaning,insulting and using control to convince the others,to follow,or be damned…seems this above study has its merits,and more. in a real world where men and women stand and live, work side by side with respect for each other,in a living world. one can say,we know where we need to be, and not to be..,ive been married for 35 years to a cool,easy going woman who is respected for her person. testament,weve had 3 arguments in 35 years,choose wisely,who you deal with.. and make change for a equal world..

  9. Pascal, I enjoy seeing your comments here and remember you fondly from your letters to the editor published in the newspaper. I’m glad you’re still commenting.

  10. When joining into U.S. American philosophy and history studies of objects, we do not limit our libraries to popular works that go into landfills. Pro-life and anti-abortion ______(what) are as much dollar limited as bound by border laws, statutes. Ancient texts for Euro-American and Indigenous families by 1776 were addressed with Greek. No Ph. For human growth and development studies, many logical words exist.

    From Google Translator, here are a few a fertile father and fertile mother (per citizen) will encounter: Γένεσις/genesis. Τοκετός/birth, childbirth, delivery, confinement, parturition. Γέννα/birth, childbirth, delivery, parturition. Γένεσις/genesis. Τεκνοποιία/child bearing, bearing, parturition. From that you ‘get’ genocide, or failure to protect humans from legal killing, or failure to keep the case 7- person, not one lobby corporation, two or three of ancient movements to present everywhere.

    Health department workers have 17 years to establish paternity and maternity in all of the Nuclear control countries since 1948. It still is that slavery interaction to talk about statutory minors if not able to speak for themselves. Every adult has a father and mother of memory and of recorded last names and numbers, for grandparents who produced two fertile parents. School charges are per capita, not for the whole neighborhood. Fathers fertilize female eggs, both under scrutiny for $$$, not in a non-profit or profit business of infanticide. And do not ask the personnel at the Indianapolis hospitals which duty they prefer — legal termination of a healthy pregnancy or intensive care in Riley.

    The Guardians still are saying Enough Is Enough at genocide grounds, as any parent might do to stop teasing in a car, but not in her classroom for those English book courses since 1477 for the modern ones, 1003 here at the Arctic Circle civilization clusters. There is no war of the sexes outside English translations and takes on early works. Fathers and mothers want to keep their sons and daughters out of those live ammunition spots in those clusters by Counties. As William Blake wrote, Enough. Or Too Much [public domain Google].

  11. Pete –

    This country needs more intelligent white men like you who recognize and are willing to speak up and speak out about all of the advantages you were both born with and have enjoyed throughout your life.

    I truly appreciate that you clearly recognize that women and people of color have never enjoyed the same privileges that you have been blessed with and that those advantages enabled you to rise above the crowd economically and otherwise.

    Of course, all of the other males that regularly comment on this blog have also made it clear that you understand the difficulties and struggles of those of us who weren’t born as white males.

    Thank you!

  12. Rosemary, thanks for your comment. My wife and I moved to Florida last Summer, so I can only comment from a distance, now, usually on-line. So I have to use Facebook instead of the Star or the Brown County paper, but I am still kicking and still willing to stick my chin out about many topics.

  13. Religion is how we train dumb people not to be savages. The structure it imposed worked for centuries. Current dumb people point (correctly) to a lack of religion causing increased savagery. What we need, of course, is civilization training that does not rely on blind faith and outdated power structures to accomplish its goals. Mandatory public education with a focus on civics, including a curriculum based on enlightened decency, can accomplish this goal.

  14. By providing contraception to poor women, Planned Parenthood has prevented more abortions than it’s facilitated. If the anti-abortion people were really interested in preventing abortions, they’d make SURE every woman who wanted it has reliable contraception.

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