Republican Women’s Policy Committee Shows Little Interest In Helping Women Outside the Committee

The observation that many of the women who have made it farthest in the arena of American politics, like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, are not the fiercest proponents of women’s equality has been made. So it’s perhaps not surprising that the 24 Republican women of the House of Representatives have now come together to form the Women’s Policy Committee, but that the group’s stated goal is not, as the name might imply, working towards policies that would help women, but “to raise the profile of the conservative ladies serving in Congress.” Additionally, not only are these ladies apparently more concerned with raising their own profile than elevating the quality of life or legal rights of other women, they are in many respects actively working against that end goal!

actual face made by Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis during hearings on VAWA

ThinkProgress has an excellent breakdown of how exactly the women of the Women’s Policy Committee have behaved legislatively towards women. For instance, 22 of the 24 opposed the expanded Violence Against Women Act that would have provided increased protections for LGBT people, immigrants, and Native Americans. Of the 15 women who were in Congress when the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was introduced, all 15 voted against it. (Against a bill that would outlaw discrimination in pay practices against women.) On their annual scorecard and voter guide, Planned Parenthood gave 20 of the 24 women a ZERO, citing the fact that they “voted against reproductive health at every opportunity.”

Again, this is not necessarily a surprise. It’s not a surprise in terms of the fact that the GOP pretty clearly has it out for women, and the fact that the GOP has female members doesn’t change that. But it’s also par for the course in terms of the fact that while voting members of marginalized groups into positions of political power is often a goal, being a member of a marginalized group doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll work with that group’s best interests at heart once you’ve been elected. It’s an acknowledgement of the fact that it’s much easier to get ahead in politics — not even necessarily conservative politics — if you support the status quo rather than question it. More women in Congress is a dream that many women have been working towards for generations, but unfortunately that doesn’t guarantee anything, as the women who voted against paycheck fairness demonstrate.

Although the “Women’s Policy Committee” as it stands is a little depressing, that doesn’t mean there’s reason to lose hope altogether. While it would be wonderful if the government worked to meet the needs of the people, especially those people underrepresented within it, it’s been shown time and time again that that isn’t always the case, and the new “Women’s Policy Committee” is only one part of that long story. But that means that we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing — telling our own stories so that something can change. We owe ourselves and our communities a level of outrage, and a commitment to not taking any shit, “profile-raising” or no. All we need to do is not give up on the work we’re already doing, and someday there will be a group of people who care about raising up us and our families, not just themselves.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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10 Comments

  1. To understand why GOP women voted against the Ledbetter Act, see:

    “Will the Ledbetter Act Help Women?” at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/

    Excerpt:

    The sole driving force behind the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as well as the oft-proposed Paycheck Fairness Act, is the belief that women earn 77 cents to men’s dollar in the same jobs.

    But contrary to what pay-equity advocates want us to believe, women’s “77 cents to men’s dollar” does NOT mean women are paid less than men in the same jobs. Nor does it mean that, even more incredibly in the vein of “men are stronger than women” (which means to many that every man is stronger than every woman), every woman earns 23% less than every man, perhaps leading some of the more benighted and the blindered ideological to believe Diane Sawyer of ABC News earns less than the young man walking back and forth on the street wearing a “Pizzas $5” sign.

    The figures are arrived at by comparing the sexes’ median incomes: women’s median is 77 percent of men’s. In 2009, the median income of full-time, year-round workers was $47,127 for men, compared to $36,278 for women or 77 percent of men’s median.

    Median means 50% of workers earn above the figures and 50% below. That means that a lot of female workers in the higher ranges of women’s median make more money than a lot of male workers in the lower ranges of men’s median.

    “Women’s 77 cents to men’s dollar” doesn’t account for the number of hours worked each week, experience, seniority, training, education or even the job description itself. It compares all women to all men, not people in the same job with the same experience. So the salary of a 60-year-old male computer engineer with 30 years at his company is weighed against that of a young first-year female teacher. Also, men are much more likely than women to work two jobs; hence, often a man earning $50,000 from his two jobs is weighed against a women earning $25,000 from her one job, so that he appears to be unfairly earning twice as much as she.

  2. It’s because if they’re a member of a marginalized group
    they have to vote against the group whenever possible
    or it seems like they’re just supporting that group because it benefits them/
    have an agenda
    (as if that’s necessarily a bad thing)/
    aren’t
    “objective”
    as of course all rich cis straight white males are.

  3. “Of the 15 women who were in Congress when the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was introduced, all 15 voted against it.”

    I should know better but I find this absolutely disgusting and I don’t understand how these women could possibly not have some severe cognitive dissonance going on. What the actual fuck.

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