‘War on women’ exposes gender inequalities

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Julia Waldow, print editor-in-chief

Women and men are not equal in America. Although our nation has progressed significantly in the past century, the battle of the sexes continues. Not even 100 years have passed since women received the right to vote, and women make only 75 percent as much as men do, according to CNN. And, as if the gender inequalities present in certain aspects in American society were not enough, another problem has risen to the surface.

No corner of the country is not aware of “The War on Women,” the rising WWIII-esque battle between male politicians and American females. Throughout the year, elected officials have made sexist and demeaning comments about abortion, contraception and rape. Earlier in the year, Rush Limbaugh called law student Sandra Fluke “a slut” and “a prostitute” for her support of women’s access to birth control. Missouri Senator Todd Akin made an idiotic comment about “legitimate rape” and how women’s bodies can block an unwanted fetus. Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that when a woman becomes pregnant during rape, “it is something that God intended.”

As if these childish and ridiculous comments weren’t enough, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney added further fuel to the sexist fire. If I had a dollar for every time Romney has changed his stance on abortion throughout the last few years, I’d be richer than Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2002, Romney stated, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” However, in 2005, he stated that he was “pro-life.” In 2007, he called for an overturn of Roe v. Wade (which legalized abortion), and in 2011, he stated, “I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood.” Most recently, he said, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” However, this statement contradicts an op-ed he wrote in June 2011, in which he stated, “I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions.”

Under Romney’s plan, women would not have received coverage for birth control or contraception. This is a double standard, as men receive coverage for Viagra, which is purely for recreational use.  Birth control or contraception hold the potential to save lives. Some birth control pills and contraceptives are extremely beneficial and offer protection against pelvic inflammatory disease, endometrial cancer, iron deficiency anemia, ovarian cancer and cysts in the breasts and ovaries, according to Planned Parenthood. Birth control and contraception put women in control of their own bodies: a much-needed concept that should be recognized by all members of our seemingly progressive country.

President Barack Obama deserves praise for all that he has done for women in America. Unlike Romney, he will continue to provide funding to Planned Parenthood, and Roe v. Wade will stay in effect. During his first term, Obama wrote and signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet agencies assess their policies’ effects on women. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restores protections against pay discrimination for women and other members of the working class. He increased funding for the Violence Against Women Act, nominated the third and fourth women ever to serve on the Supreme Court, appointed more women to his Cabinet than any other incoming president and signed an Executive Order promising support to curb the spread of violence against women and girls.

By winning the election, Obama can bring the country closer toward achieving equality for women. With lots of work and “HOPE,” America can continue to move “FORWARD” and bridge the gender gap.

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