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Women of the Tea Party

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It's been hard to help noticing, that so many of the people being put forth by the Tea Party of late, are women. This has prompted numerous theories about the symbolism, political message, or policy proposal involved. Some like Max Blumenthal in Republican Gomorroah - note the value of female candidates to deliver a message antithetical to women's rights, as a way of silencing the opposition.

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell has pointed out the irony of some of these women hurling phrases like "Man up!" - which run counter to the whole of idea of women running for office.

A series of article in The Nation Magazine addresses the paradox in a number of ways, including blaming feminists for narrowly defining progress in terms of gender alone during the 2008 Democratic primary, dismissing the Mamma Grizzly imagery as a combination of branding and sex appeal to men, blaming the Democratic Party for not supporting their own female candidates, and a kind of bait and switch, in which Democratic losses in 2010 will mean fewer women in Congress over all.

But there's another way of looking at the irony of so many women representing a party whose positions run counter to those of most American women. It has to do with the Tea Party rebellion against government regulation - recast as tyranny - while true government intrusions on issues of privacy (such as reproductive rights) are celebrated.

In "Sex and the GOP" in The Nation Magazine, Betsy Reed observes:

"Government-bashing, a favorite pastime of many ultraconservative female candidates, goes over much better with men than with women, who are more likely to support an active government role in the economy, education, healthcare and environmental protection. After all, women benefit more from government policies like childcare subsidies and family leave, and they are disproportionately reliant on Social Security to protect them from poverty in old age, so it is only logical that they look askance at politicians of either gender who make careers out of demonizing government ..."

Yet, another way of looking at the relationship between women and government services, is that women give government a break, by providing so many community and family services for free, that would otherwise have to be provided by government. This is the view of feminist writers such as Marilyn Waring, Ann Crittteden, and Martha Albertson Fineman.

Waring has spent decades as a feminist economist, advocating for the inclusion of the work traditionally done by women e.g., child care, food preparation, gathering wood and water to be included in economic models. She argues that if such work "counted," women would be given more credit for their contributions to economic growth.

Ann Crittenden argues that caregivers mostly women pay a huge financial price for taking time out of the paid work force to care for children. Like Waring, she also argues that mothers contribute to the economy through their work, for instance, by preparing the future work force to contribute to the social security rolls.


Fineman argues that the idea of the "autonomous" worker, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, is a myth, as so many workers rely on an unpaid caregiver at home, to make work possible.

Looked at through the prism of these writers, women's work is the mechanism by communities take care of many of their collective needs. So are governments. By arguing for draconian reductions in various government supports, the Tea Party forces more reliance on the work of women. Who better, then, to deliver that message, than conservative women? Perhaps, in addition to the alleged sex appeal of a Palin or an O'Donnell, the message to Republican men is: "Don't worry, we'll handle it."

The government-bashing message of Tea Party Republicans comes at a particularly unfortunate time, of course, with economic times being so bad. But it also comes at a time when more and more women will be called upon to be caregivers, as the baby boom generation ages.

Perhaps the opening that Tea Party women are exploiting is not the equation of female gender with women's rights, but the overemphasis of paid work over unpaid work, in the push for women's equality.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Fried-Ph.D./e/B004QOOD04/ref=ntt_d

Amy Fried is the author of "Escaping Dick Cheney's Stomach." She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, and has been an advocate for church-state separation and other civil liberties issues. She writes on women's issues, media, veganism (more...)
 

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when the goal is not a substance but pure destru... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 7:52:18 AM
because quite frankly Mark you are full of bull cr... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:30:03 AM
Woah, Mark;I agree that many of the women of the T... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:07:14 AM
men make piss poor liars.... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:12:34 AM
my smart ass dry humor escaped. I apologize.... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:16:14 AM
and the actual capability of lying is not a fault... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:36:19 AM
Mark;This is a baseless generalization. ... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 11:06:18 AM
Looks like you've got a bad case of Palinism. When... by Margaret Bassett on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 8:41:31 AM
does not mean to denigrate. Men are easier to con ... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:03:23 AM
You really have no clue.... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:44:55 AM
I also believe that studying physics and chemistry... by Margaret Bassett on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:16:57 AM
and I did pass an exam on it - does not explain ... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:24:46 AM
Part of the problem I see is that the left totally... by Tim Harney on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:17:38 AM
I will agree on. Its all about balance...not men ... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:42:27 AM
Laura, that comment above from Tim was actually to... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:48:38 AM
trying to compare all conservative women to Palin ... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:58:43 AM
Mark, I am not trying to justify Palin. In fact I ... by Tim Harney on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:06:40 AM
because I happen to agree with what he said. Wher... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:08:14 AM
My husband and I are partners, too. I don't know w... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:27:07 AM
where did I say I expected that? I'm pro choice a... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:40:43 AM
Thanks.What may surprise you, is that I've come to... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:45:55 AM
It would be nice if feminists would stop referring... by Tim Harney on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:50:52 AM
"Financial servant?" Whose name is on the paycheck... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 11:10:13 AM
Amy thank you for saying this:"Of course the kids ... by Tim Harney on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 1:00:54 PM
I do not support what you just said. Please speak ... by Tim Harney on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:48:23 AM
The tea part stands for smaller Government, Stop t... by Michael Morris on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 2:57:12 PM
You may feel that way, but the tea party Republica... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 4:13:45 PM
"You may feel that way, but the tea party Republic... by Tim Harney on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 5:18:42 PM
If you are concerned with big government what we c... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 6:02:05 PM
because the liberal progressives don't have any se... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 8:27:56 PM
Well said...... by Michael Morris on Sunday, Oct 31, 2010 at 10:29:32 AM
I really fail to see how men are in danger of bein... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:22:11 AM
After birth then what?I fully support women's righ... by Tim Harney on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:58:37 AM
Please explain:* how the women's rights movement h... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 11:14:54 AM
You do not see any harm to men in the last 30 year... by Tim Harney on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 12:02:13 PM
Harm how??... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 12:12:55 PM
* how the women's rights movement has emasculated ... by Michael Morris on Sunday, Oct 31, 2010 at 10:44:04 AM
Where to begin? First, since I am not a biblical l... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Sunday, Oct 31, 2010 at 11:02:34 AM
and may God bless you anyhow........ by Michael Morris on Sunday, Oct 31, 2010 at 11:49:02 AM
And good luck with yours.... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Sunday, Oct 31, 2010 at 12:17:16 PM
Friedan got literature involved in Women's Studies... by Margaret Bassett on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:42:18 AM
Margaret, wh academician Sakharov, the nuclear phy... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:18:24 AM
where did I say I was perfect? I'm far from it. ... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:31:01 AM
shame on you. Shame on you. Phd or not, I can't be... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:53:32 AM
Again, I fail to see how women are castrating men.... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:33:12 AM
I can find a call to arms for castration. She's po... by Adam Smith on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:58:42 AM
however, I've seen women cry for equal rights and ... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 8:16:34 PM
What many of you are missing in this article, is t... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:40:18 AM
please remember that women serve in the Military a... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:45:30 AM
Yes, and one of the brilliant points by Catharine ... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:50:21 AM
in the Military that too is honored. I know I'm a... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:53:40 AM
In the Military where women demand equality, befor... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:57:51 AM
That's pretty sad - bringing a child into the worl... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 11:25:53 AM
but their husbands have to fill the place of all t... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:05:16 PM
want a say in their lives. Isn't that what Hannah ... by Margaret Bassett on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 11:24:18 AM
Someone here called my post obscene. Mae West, w... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 6:00:13 PM
These women have not shed a tear? Trust me we all... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 7:48:34 PM
not everything is about you... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 8:34:23 PM
where is this coming from?... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:00:48 PM
to Cindy Shehan?... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:29:37 PM
all the women running have no clue? You sir have ... by Laura Roberts on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:38:28 PM
I will not attack you, never did. You please, rere... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:46:00 PM
It was the way we used to sum up Life when we were... by Margaret Bassett on Sunday, Oct 31, 2010 at 6:39:08 AM