‘War On Women’ Seeks To Infantilize Women, Keep Them Dependent
Religion & Liberty Online

‘War On Women’ Seeks To Infantilize Women, Keep Them Dependent

One of my jobs when I was in college was doing tech work (lights and sound) for a small but busy theater. I enjoyed the work, and most of my co-workers, not to mention the opportunity to meet the varied and creative people who came to perform. One of my co-workers, though, was a first-class jerk. His hands “wandered,” he said inappropriately sexual things to me and harassed me. When I finally figured out that he was targeting me, I told him to not only knock it off, but if he didn’t, I’d call his wife and let her know exactly what he was doing. He never bothered me again. This situation did not require a bill to passed in Congress, nor a sexual harassment seminar for all employees. It required me to stand  up for myself.

When Sandra Fluke testified before a House panel on the need for employers to pay for women’s contraception in 2012, her testimony was celebrated by radical feminists and decried by women who believed we should be responsible for our own healthcare. It’s interesting to note how the President of the United States reacted to the whole situation. President Obama called Ms. Fluke to tell her that her parents should be proud of her. Huh? Ms. Fluke wasn’t some 4th-grade girl who stood up to bullies. She’s an adult, making adult choices and decisions. Why did the president feel it necessary to bring her parents into the discussion?

After the Supreme Court ruling regarding Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, we saw this weird outcry from radical feminists: “Keep the government out of the bedroom!” “Employers shouldn’t make medical decisions for us!” but both government and employers should pay for birth control and abortions. What do these women want? To be able to be adults, making decisions – both health and economic – for themselves or have Big Brother foot the bill? Women, we are told, need government to help us plan our families, get an education, get a paycheck equal to our male counter-parts, and raise our children.

While women and girls in other nations are facing death because of their religious choices, trying to get an education or simply because they are female, American feminists have created a “war on women” that infantilizes women and seeks to keep them dependent on employers, the government and entitlement programs. Abby McCloskey and Aparna Mathur, at U.S. News and World Report, note that many government policies are holding women back, and no one – least of all radical feminists – are talking about it.

Take the Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office reported that there will be 2.5 million fewer full-time job equivalents by 2024 as a result of new taxes and incentives in the health care law. Most of those who leave their jobs are likely to be women, because women are more responsive to tax rates than men. In economist-speak, they have a higher labor supply elasticity, which is the consistent result of numerous economic models. According to economist Glenn Hubbard, the marginal tax rates from subsidy phase-outs in the health care law could reach 50 percent for some earners, before income and payroll taxes are accounted for. As a result, many women are likely to scale back their work hours or stop working all together.

The health care law has only exacerbated the already problematic tax code for women. Married women arguably face higher marginal tax rates than any demographic. Tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the child care tax credit, are based on family income, not individual income. As a result, the return to work by a woman, usually the secondary earner, is less if she is married. A recent study by Melissa Kearney and Lesly Turner shows how a family headed by a primary earner making $25,000 a year will take home less than 30 percent of a spouse’s earnings because of taxes and the phase-out of benefits. This is hardly an incentive to work.

McCloskey and Mathur speak of how government makes working for women less and less appealing. The federal government gives child care incentives to women on welfare, and a slow economy recovery is hard on anyone trying to find work that pays well.

Taken together, these work disincentives create a big and unfortunate feedback loop. Women’s shorter time in the labor force – because of children, tax treatment, benefit phase-outs and a bad economy – decreases their investment in jobs-skills and experience. As a result, many women find themselves stuck in low-paying, low-promotion jobs.

Does this sound like a plan that supports women? Or does it sound like a plan that holds women back and keeps them dependent?

Teen and “tween” girls are especially vulnerable in our sex-saturated society. Obsessed with “selfies” and the use of technology, these girls often have no idea of the ramifications of putting themselves out there on the internet. The case of Anji Dean, an Oregon teenager, highlights the dangers young girls face. Dean went missing in late June, leaving behind a note saying, “If you’re reading this, I’m either missing or dead.” Following an intense social media campaign aimed at finding her, the young woman was found and brought home.

Police believe that she was the victim of a human trafficking ring. A woman identified as Jennifer told KGW that Anji introduced herself using her real name but then asked to be called “Daisy.” She reportedly told Jennifer that people were looking for her and she was being forced to do things she did not want. Jennifer tried to help her, but Anji disappeared before that could happen.

“She said she was in a bad situation and needed to get out,” Jennifer added.

Lauren Galley, the 19 year old founder of Girls Above Society, speaks candidly to teens about the threats posed by the internet:

Have you ever met a cute and charming guy at the mall or at a football game, or found yourself answering a text from someone you randomly met–and suddenly got “weird” vibes? If so, it is very possible you were targeted for human trafficking. Being a teen, I know how easy it is to say “It will never happen to me,” but if you are a young female living in the Houston area, it is extremely important to be aware of your surroundings. This does not mean you need to live in fear. As long as you educate yourself and take the necessary precautions, you should be safe from sketchy strangers (especially the ones you would never expect, like the good-looking ones.)

Traffickers use a variety of means to carry out their mission. One of their targets is young girls with low economic status. These parents oftentimes are working more than one job, leaving their children for extended lengths of time without proper supervision. Another method is outright kidnapping and luring girls into a dangerous situation. Traffickers use a variety of tactics which vary from affection and love, to something as simple as food, or finding a lost pet.

Search the website of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and Planned Parenthood’s site for teens and see if you find the same information. Nope, instead you’ll find information on gender orientation, abortion, birth control and reproductive justice. Which brings us right back to Sandra Fluke, testifying,

Without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. Forty percent of female students at Georgetown Law report struggling financially as a result of this policy.

It’s a shame that the radical “War on Women” isn’t focusing on real issues that face real women, and choosing to educate and empower women to be self-sufficient, smart and mature. Instead, the “War on Women” is about keeping women dependent of massive government pay-outs, tax disincentives for working and caring for their own children, and failing to bring to light real issues that put women in harm’s way, both here and abroad. Women: it’s time to stand on our own two feet. Don’t let anyone tell you that the only way for you to get ahead is for the government to pay you to get there. Don’t let your safety take a back seat to your self-image. Don’t turn over your life choices, your mistakes and what you’ve learned from them or your accomplishments to anyone else. As the late Maya Angelou once said, “A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”

Let’s be wise women, not dependent ones.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.