And here we go again with another post showing the wonderful regard that Rick Santorum supposedly has for women and for their place in society! Trigger warning for inflammatory, insulting statements on Santorum’s part that would cause one not only to cringe, but to foam at the mouth with anger and turn into a raging She-Hulk. Yes, it’s that bad, Persephoneers.
A recent article from The Huffington Post discusses Rick Santorum’s recent losses in state primaries, and it posits that this is because his attitude toward women’s rights has alienated prospective women voters, who have set their sights–and their votes–on Mitt Romney. This has been the case in two battleground states, Ohio and Michigan, where it was thought that Santorum might have had an advantage over Romney because he would be able to target working-class, socially conservative voters. Why is this the case? Because, says Jason Cherkis, the author of the article, Santorum has “a long history of theorizing about women’s sex lives and attempting to turn these theories into law.”
But J. Hogan Gridley, the spokesman for the Santorum campaign, insists that Santorum has the highest respect for women. “He’s always been surrounded by strong women…Rick cooks and Rick cleans”¦ [He and his wife are] equal partners in the marriage. I think the more people realize who he is as a husband and as leader in the realm of women’s rights, they’d be surprised”¦ There are high level women on our campaign who report only to Rick.” (Cherkis)
So says Gridley.
But the fact of the matter is this: Rick Santorum has no respect for the rights and personhood of women. Not only does he advocate the limitation of contraception and abolition of legal abortions, but he also believes that the government should intrude into women’s personal lives in ways that are impossible for even me to imagine.
During his 1994 campaign, Santorum proposed that unwed mothers should only receive welfare payments after they named the father of their child. Again, from Cherkis’s article, here is Santorum’s philosophy on the whole matter:
What we say is that in order for a mom to be able to go on welfare if she has a child out of wedlock, you have to tell us who the father is”¦ If you don’t tell us who the father is, you won’t be eligible for any welfare benefits, none, not even medical care. You tell us who the father is or you don’t receive benefits. If Mom knows she isn’t gonna receive welfare if she doesn’t know who the dad is, y’know maybe she’ll be a little more careful, maybe”¦ Or maybe she gives us a list, say, “Well, it could be one out of five.” “¦I mean, y’know, I don’t know what she’s gonna do, but at some point we’re gonna see her cooperate”¦ We say to Mom that you tell us the wrong name, and we’ll bring that guy in and give him a blood test and it’s not Dad, you lose your welfare benefits”¦ Not until you tell us another name, but till we find out who Dad is, we establish it.
And when it comes to minors who are receiving welfare benefits? Santorum believes that “teenage moms should be ineligible for welfare,” because “the main reason they get pregnant in the first place is because ‘they get a pretty big cash benefit.” (Cherkis) And it gets even better: one of Santorum’s welfare reform bills “would encourage states to refuse welfare to unmarried parents, require unmarried minor mothers to live with their parents, and the bill would reduce federal payments to states that do not achieve high rates of paternity establishment.” (Cherkis)
While it is important that paternity is established so that arrangements for child support can be made, it is quite another thing to deny an unwed mother welfare benefits outright if she honestly does not know who the father is or does not wish for the father to be involved in the child’s life. Perhaps the mother may have just left an abusive relationship and does not wish for the father to remain in the child’s life, or perhaps the child may have been conceived in rape, or maybe the mother honestly doesn’t know who the father is. But that is no reason to deny someone medical coverage and welfare benefits. And in Santorum’s ideal world with no contraception available and no legal access to a safe abortion, there would be a greater possibility for an unplanned pregnancy. Isn’t this doubly punishing a woman who carries an unplanned pregnancy to term? And what would happen once the child’s father was found? Would the mother have to marry the father–regardless of the circumstances in which the child had been conceived–in order to receive welfare benefits? Or would mothers need to remain in toxic, if not abusive, home situations and raise their children in them to receive these benefits? And if the mother in question is a teenager–what then? Are the grandparents responsible for the teenager’s care as well as her child’s? Must the teenager remain in an abusive home, as well, if the child is conceived as a result of incest or rape?
Santorum has not asked these questions because in his mind, women are not real people who are entitled to the rights that men are. Women cannot be trusted to make decisions about their own sexuality. When they do, and if it ends in an unplanned pregnancy, it’s not because it was unplanned, it is because unwed mothers are using their uteruses and their ability to bear children as some kind of business racket to make tons and tons of money. To prevent this, Santorum would turn the clock back to the early twentieth century when women’s decisions were controlled by their husbands and fathers. Even if he is surrounded by strong women, Santorum somehow can’t allow women to be strong enough to think and make decisions for themselves.
It doesn’t matter if Santorum and his wife supposedly have an egalitarian marriage or whether or not he has women in the highest positions of his campaign. Santorum is not a champion of women’s rights; to be honest, I would go so far as to say that he is a misogynist. And for a misogynist to say that he has women in high positions of his campaign and that he and his wife have an egalitarian marriage when he pushes for laws restricting women’s rights and limiting their chances for equality is analogous to a racist saying that he has black friends.