Would the president please quit pandering to liberal women? It might work, but it doesn’t become him. In a follow-up to his much-covered outreach to Sandra Fluke, Barack Obama invited himself to speak at the all-women Barnard College’s commencement address (h/t Doug Powers):
Word of Mr. Obama’s appearance at Barnard, a 123-year-old women’s college in New York City, comes as the White House and Democrats have seized on Republican attempts to block a requirement for contraception coverage in the new health care law, saying it amounts to a “war on women.”
Democrats believe the issue could be an effective rallying point with women voters in a presidential election year, and the decision to appear at the prestigious women’s school could provide a high-profile forum for the president on that front.
An Obama administration official confirmed on Friday that the White House had called Barnard to offer the president as the commencement speaker.
Here’s the best part: Obama’s ousting Jill Abramson, first female EIC of The New York Times, who was originally tapped to deliver the address. If he’s so keen to promote liberal women’s issues, why steal the opportunity from Ms. Abramson?
Identity politics perpetuate the very problems they purport to solve; activists for “women’s issues” reduce women to their womanhood, as though all their political concerns proceed from their gender. But if men and women are no different, shouldn’t “men’s issues” and “women’s issues” be identical?
Truth is, men and women are different and the chief, impossible-to-be-obliterated difference is that women bear babies while men cannot. The use of contraception is any feminist’s best attempt to eliminate that difference, but, always, a woman’s need for contraception to avoid pregnancy belies it. Make no mistake, for feminists, if not necessarily for the administration, the contraception mandate would be the final triumph in a generations-old war on fertility. As James Taranto writes:
“Family planning is good for families,” [WaPo columnist Lisa Miller] insists, ignoring the sharp rise in divorce and illegitimacy since 1960, when the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill for contraceptive use. In fairness, maybe she means to make a more modest claim–that for the subset of the population who have been able to form and sustain marriages despite the social dislocations of the past half-century, birth control has on balance been beneficial.
But in any case, why does it so bother Miller that the Romneys, Santorums and Pauls (and also the Palins, whom she mentions in another paragraph) made the choice to have large families? If she cared about choice, she would recognize it’s none of her business. But contemporary feminism does not actually value choice, except as a means to an ideological end, which is the obliteration of differences between the sexes. The biggest such difference consists in the distinct and disparate demands that reproduction makes on women. Thus in order to equalize the sexes, it is necessary to discourage fertility. Implicit in contemporary feminism is a normative judgment that having children is bad.
If this were made explicit, of course, the whole project would fall apart. Feminism is politically unviable without the support of at least a substantial minority of women, and women (or at least most women) do have a maternal instinct. So feminism has to wage its war against fertility covertly, rationalizing it in terms of other goals.
Other goals — like “women’s health.”
It’s into this longstanding passion against the ever-remaining evidence of sexual difference that Obama has tapped with his contraception mandate — and he knows it. The more Obama can stoke the misimpression that Republicans want to ban contraception, the more liberal and undecided women will rally to him.
Conservatives object to the contraception mandate for reasons that have nothing to do with sex, contraception or fertility — but liberals fight for it for reasons that have everything to do with sex, contraception and fertility.