A phrase that keeps coming up this Republican primary season is "war on women." We heard it when women were kept out of a hearing on Obama's contraception ruling, when Foster Friess made his joke about birth control, when Rick Santorum attacked single moms, when Susan G. Komen withdrew funding to Planned Parenthood for reasons that looked suspiciously like the decision of anti-abortion activists. And, most recently, when Rush Limbaugh called a reasonable woman testifying reasonably about birth control a "slut," taking the discussion way, way downhill.
It would be easy to look at all this as a threat to women's progress over the past century. And in some ways it is. But what's interesting in the conversations about a so-called "war on women" is that women do not seem to be having it. According to a recent article in The New York Times, these women, who might have otherwise voted Republican, are being swayed by the discussions of birth control, the name-calling, the, as Margaret Talbot writes in the New Yorker, "eighty new restrictions on abortion rights that were enacted by state legislatures in 2011." And those women, at least anecdotally, are leaning toward Obama. (Some of them, more worrisomely, are leaning toward not voting at all.) Why? Because of how the GOP is treating women.