On Monday, the GOP launched the Women’s Policy Committee, “with the goal of raising the profile of GOP women in their roles as lawmakers, highlighting their diverse achievements and providing a unique, unified voice on a wide range of critically important issues.”
Republican Speaker John Boehner maintains that the committee will offer “a fresh, new perspective on a vast array of challenges confronting Congress.” The 24 Republican women of the House of Representatives make up the all-female caucus, which yesterday released this video:
The formation of the committee is politically motivated, and the intention of the video is clear. It aims to: 1) remind women voters that despite the GOP’s “anti-woman” stance on issues of abortion, contraception, equal pay, and domestic violence, which leftists have dubbed the “War on Women,” female representatives do exist in the upper tiers of the Republican Party; and 2) show that, as wives, mothers, grandmothers, teachers, small business owners, and farmers, the Republican women of the House are just like you, and their policies have your best interests at heart.
But owning a tailored blazer and a vagina does not make these Republicans adequate safeguards of women’s rights. In fact, a majority of these women have voted repeatedly to impede the reproductive, civil, and human rights of women. According to Planned Parenthood, 20 of the women in the group earned a voting score of zero, having opposed reproductive rights each time they were at stake, and the average score for all 24 women came in under 6%. Twenty-two of the GOP women voted for a revised version of the Violence Against Women Act, which would not require victim confidentiality and excluded protections for immigrants, Native Americans, and LGBT individuals. Twenty-one of the 24 co-sponsored the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which hoped to eliminate Obamacare regulations requiring most employers to include birth control in their health insurance plans. In 2009, when 15 of these women were in the House, every single one of them opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law which extended a woman’s right to take legal action against employers with gender discriminatory pay practices.
The Women’s Policy Committee does not even pretend to dedicate itself to the distinctly “female issues” around which the so-called War on Women is being waged. The video makes no mention of any issues that affect exclusively women and, according to its mission statement, the new committee’s goals simply mimic those of the Republican Party at large, such as “less government, lower taxes, regulatory relief, personal responsibility, individual freedoms and a strong national defense.”
Boehner’s contention that, because the committee is entirely female, it can offer some “fresh” and “new” insight is abstract, probably ill founded, and reflects 50s-era sentiments that women, as the gentler sex, can provide a distinctly feminine perspective on issues that affect individuals of every gender. The creation of an all-female committee devoted to achieving the same ends as the greater Republican Party further broadens the gender gap, and serves as a sad reminder that women’s influence in U.S. government continues to be an ultra-modern ideal.