Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face
The latest insane flurry of right-wing efforts to roll back women’s reproductive rights and push women out of civil participation and public discourse has left many liberals certain that come November, Republican women will leave the fold in droves. I am not so sure. There have already been and will continue to be some defections among women who are slightly right-of-center, but the trickle will not become a flood. I do hope history will prove me wrong, but I doubt it will happen in this political climate.
It was Golda Meir, an Israeli Prime Minister, who famously remarked that peace will come to the Middle East when Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews. Regardless of where you stand on the Israeli-Palestinian question, Meir made an astute observation about human nature: that plenty of people, particularly in a highly polarized political climate, prefer to hurt those they hate even at the cost of bringing a greater disaster upon themselves and those they love, rather than opt for a solution that makes things better for everyone. In other words, hatred can become prioritized over self-interest.
Very recently, a scientific study reached an unsurprising conclusion that variations in political philosophy hearken back to primal psychological and cognitive differences — and that, in particular, conservatives are more inclined to respond to negative stimuli than liberals. In other words, as the current events amply demonstrate, conservatives are singularly focused on the Other, and the perceived need to curb, paralyze, neutralize that Other — which includes “overeducated” and presumably loose women. In terms of reproductive rights, this will translate, I’m afraid, into conservative women being perfectly willing to vote away their own and their daughters’ rights for the sake of abridging the rights of all other women, who, in their view, do not deserve them.
To say that right-wingers are hypocritical on social issues would be a gross understatement. The overwhelming majority of conservative women violate their “virginity pledges” and use birth control. They — even outspoken abortion protesters — also have abortions. And yet, they enthusiastically harass doctors and patients, and vote in politicians with a proven record of trying to curb women’s bodily autonomy and freedom of choice. The reason is simple: they hate the rights of others more than they appreciate their own. Moreover, since they perceive their own hypocrisy as merely a belief that they are exceptional (as I’ve written previously), they lack the empathy necessary to understand that an attack on “other” women’s autonomy represents an attack on their own, as well. They figure that if they need an abortion and there are no longer any obstetricians in Buttfuck, Kansas willing to do it, they’ll just take a vacation in one of those liberal cities they love to hate. They’ll see a show, have a nice meal, do a spot of shopping and back in his home town, continue to support politicians who advocate legislation whose practical effect will be to force poor women to serve as human breeding cattle for those “deserving” couples whose exceptional circumstances, you see, justify them not going through the trouble of pregnancy and childbirth despite wanting to have more children.
Conservative women have exhibited this behavior for a long time, and I believe, most of them will stick to it come November. They see the liberty of others as a greater threat than efforts to reduce them to chattel. And they are not likely to wake up from their Two Minutes’ Hate until it’s too late. If they wake up at all, that is.