Feminists and 'Moral Panic'

Two incidents have redrawn our attention to the pernicious effects of feminism in America: the skewed married women versus single women vote in Virginia and the increasing pressure put on the military to prosecute meritless charges of sexual assault. In both cases, ordinary men and women and the country as a whole are the victims of upper-class women's drive to power through mendacious claims megaphoned by a credulous, biased press

A. Virginia

Many find much of interest in the neck-and-neck race for the governorship in Virginia, where the lavishly funded, long time front-runner barely nosed out the conservative attorney general. Among the interesting facts about the race is this gleaned from exit polls: While Ken Cuccinelli beat Terry McAuliffe 51% to 42% among women who are married, among unmarried women McAuliffe won by a whopping 67 percent to 25 percent. Short of discouraging unmarried women away from the polls, what can the Republicans do to overcome this? (A more detailed exit poll analysis later showed that the Republicans really are the party of the middle class, and while more white married women voted for Cuccinelli than did white men, more black men voted for the Republican candidate than did black women.)

I asked some online friends at Facebook how they'd overcome this electoral disadvantage and got some interesting answers. I am not sure myself if any would work but I'm happy to share some of the best of them. This dilemma, occasioned I believe by economic illiteracy, political and class bias, and the snobbery of the upper-class feminists and their friends in the media who reap handsome benefits in the professions and business, must be resolved if the Republicans hope to shape the future and if the economic situation of women at the bottom rungs is ever to be really improved.

Cathy Johnston Fasano says making more of these women aware of the strictures of ObamaCare and its intrusive nature would help:

I'd go after the sex-life-snooping questions mandated by Obamacare. The mandate is a "free" annual exam, but the bait-and-switch is that what is mandated is not something guided by the health of the patient but the interests of the government.

a) With cost controls needing to come from somewhere, it's likely that the only person available to you for your annual "physical" will be some barely-trained medic, as opposed to a doctor, PA, RN, etc. Pretty soon it will devolve into an ACORN/OWS precinct captain who doesn't know anything about medicine at all. Just like "navigators"

b) The annual "physical" does not allow you to talk about any NEW health problem -- for that you need to make a regular appt and pay out of pocket. So all those public service announcements of "talk to your doctor about..." things like changes in a mole, chest pain, bowel changes, blah-blah-blah -- you know, HEALTH issues -- that's not included.

c) What IS mandated is that the "health care provider" interrogate the "patient" at each app[ointment] and record the results in the government database. (And the provider who doesn't get the data gets financially punished.) The mandated interrogation is about smoking, whether or not the patient is being beaten at home, with whom and how often the patient is having sex, and how many guns are in the patient's home

A number of commentators begged Republican candidates to stop harping about abortion, which fuels The Handmaid's Tale fantasy of forced pregnancy. Some said to emphasize instead the infanticide issue. Actually, there is little that a candidate could do on the issue. Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and is unlikely to be overturned. I think the issue is one the Democrats' friends in the press always emphasize no matter what a candidate's agenda is. If he or she personally favors abortion restrictions under any circumstance the media are certain to make this the debate topic and press focus. Frankly, I think candidates should emphasize opposition to late-term abortions, which Alex Bensky calculates more than 70% of American women oppose despite the consistent lying on this subject by Planned Parenthood and others. I'd also poke fun at the way abortion as a means of avoiding back-alley butchery has evolved. Today in California, non-physicians are legally empowered to perform abortions. In Virginia efforts to hold abortion clinics to the standards of other medical clinics result in fierce political fights. In Pennsylvania Dr. Gosnell continued for years to butcher babies and women in filthy conditions indistinguishable from those in "back alley" abortions, but fear of rousing feminist fury kept officials from interceding and shutting him down. Whatever the candidate believes, he should be prepared for this question and not allow the press to deflect his overall agenda onto this issue. It's ridiculous how consistently this game is played on candidates who regularly look like deer in the headlights when this stunt is pulled. Even Ralph Nader long ago conceded this is not a genuine political issue -- it's a feint.

Some expressed a certain pessimism about reaching this group with any very rational arguments because as Clare Spark notes "To young women, getting a suitable mate is the overpowering life task. Contraception and safe abortions will always trump the economic issues that we prefer to talk about."

Thomas Lipscomb was the most pessimistic.

Unmarried women are in a world of hurt and it is getting worse... they are irrational in the extreme, on the one hand terrified of getting pregnant without recourse and on the other hand terrified of being exposed in society without protection and a total sucker for the seductive promises of security paid for by Big Brother Government. And since feminism does a lousy job of describing reasonable alternatives for them and directs them unmarried and childless towards an unsatisfying career track in their 30s on, they just get more and more desperate. And since feminism has them playing into men's desire to remain uncommitted, there are more of them all the time.

Is this a hopeless task? Should Republicans concentrate instead on bringing more married women to the polls What about bringing more single fathers into the fold? Ron Rizzo adds: "There are precisely as many single fathers as single mothers "

Whichever strategy or strategies would be more successful, I cannot say but standing on the sidelines while the opposition gulls these voters with pap from celebrities, exciting but meaningless slogans like "justice, peace, living wage" is not working. And no well-reasoned thought papers on why the Democrats' economic plans will further impoverish them will either.

B. Muscle and the Military

As they have in so many areas, to our detriment and to that of the middle class in particular, the feminists have used their ability to sway this voting tranche into increasing their political power. Now the military is targeted and it seems also to be bowing to the demand for unwarranted sex-assault criminal prosecutions.

As usual -- see claims about disparate incomes, for example -- the feminists begin with a lie. In this case, the exaggerated claims of the frequency of sex assaults in the military to force prosecutions, which are unlikely to be sustained because the evidence is nonexistent or flimsy. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal skillfully dissects the issue and claims and attributes the Pentagon's craven response to "moral panic".

The AP 's Pauline Jelinek reported without much examination this week the claims of a huge increase in sexual assaults in the military, indicating they'd "increased by a prevalence of 46 percent in the past fiscal year." In essence she acted as a stenographer publishing the Pentagon's claims.

The issue doesn't just pop up. It arises in the context of a largely Democratic push to remove commanders from the process of deciding whether serious crimes, including sexual assaults, should go to trial and leave the decision in the hands of lawyers with prosecutorial experience, something military leaders say would undercut their ability to maintain order in the ranks.

The New York Times did not do a much better analysis than the AP did, as James Taranto noted:

What's fascinating is that Steinhauer does not betray any skepticism about these numbers, even though she enumerates several reasons to take them with a grain of salt -- to wit: "The numbers included sexual assaults by civilians on service members," which would not fit the common meaning of sexual assault in the military. "Sexual assault" was defined broadly, to include mere "touching of private body parts" (though not "sexual harassment, which is handled by another office in the military").

Here's our favorite: "In a twist, the Pentagon found that a substantial number of the reported cases of sexual assault -- something less than 10 percent -- occurred before the victim entered the military." That's a hell of a "twist!" By this definition, the military could reduce "sexual assault in the military" by nearly 10% simply by asking recruits if they've ever experienced sexual assault and rejecting anyone who answers in the affirmative.

Figures for "reported" sexual assaults, of course, also include false charges as well as murky cases in which it is impossible to prove either guilt or innocence -- which, under American principles of justice, means acquittal is the proper outcome. Assault statistics -- and indeed statistics on all crimes except homicide -- are unreliable on the other side as well, for not all crimes are reported.

The Steinhauer report makes clear, however, that the Pentagon is seeking to inflate, not minimize, the statistics:

Military officials cast the increase of reported complaints in positive terms and said it showed an increased willingness among victims of assault to come forward. . . .

Each year the department reports the number of assault claims, which lag behind a separate survey on sexual assault taken every other year among 1.4 million active-duty service members. Last summer that survey found that about 26,000 men and women in the military were sexually assaulted in 2011, up from 19,000 in 2010.

But again, the military defines "assault" as including any unwanted touching of "private body parts." That goes too far even for Gloria Steinem, at least when applied to a commander in chief of whom she approves: "He is accused of having made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter [Kathleen Willey] during a low point in her life," Steinem wrote in a 1998 New York Times op-ed. "She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took 'no' for an answer."

In exaggerating the problem of military sexual assault, the Pentagon is responding to its civilian masters in both the executive branch and Congress. A moral panic is under way, and military officers -- who are trained to follow orders and whose ultimate commanders are civilians -- are not equipped to resist it. The result is that weak or completely bogus cases go to courts-martial, either producing unjust verdicts or reducing conviction rates -- and in the latter case giving further ammunition to politicians anxious to push the military to "do more" about "sexual assault."

Taranto examines the status quo on prosecution of military sex crimes and the proposal for independent prosecutions and concludes under this poisonous atmosphere, neither course is adequate. "As long as politicians (and journalists) persist in exaggerating the prevalence of sexual assault in the military, the Pentagon will follow suit, and prosecutions on false or dubious charges will continue to proliferate. A decent resolution to this problem will remain impossible until the moral panic passes. One can only hope the effectiveness and morale of the U.S. military doesn't suffer too much in the interim."

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