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Women's Health in Quotes

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I’ve always hated “bunny ears”--that gesture we use to place a word or phrase in quotation marks while we speak. Two peace signs twitching, the gesture condescends to an unseen other, mocks anyone endorsing whatever notion it is meant to highlight.

The gesture also tends to be emphatically dismissive; we use it to distance ourselves from an idea we find patently false or silly, like “liberal media” or “pro-life feminism.”

Last night John McCain used "bunny ears" to illustrate the seriousness with which he takes women’s health.  One small gesture, one giant give away.

Women should fear this candidate. His abortion politics would have been enough to justify this fear, but the foundation of those politics, as revealed last night, ought to worry us even more. Women simply do not matter to John McCain. He sees the “health” concerns of women as nothing but the empty rhetoric of “pro-abortion radicals” used to further their reckless agenda. Fully half the electorate does not matter to this man--are disposable to his political goals.

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Think about what he said: real women, actual people, genuine suffering mean nothing. His position is entirely rhetorical (not unlike his positions on the economy, taxes and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) divorced entirely from what real people experience.

We cannot elect a man who fails to value our lives, fails to see women as human.

His position on women has been perfectly obvious: his own wife walks three steps behind him on the campaign trail, and he speaks of his running mate like an aged grandpa who is “proud” of his little girl. Both women function as props in his political theatre, nothing else.

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When John McCain used "bunny ears" last night, we witnessed an untrammeled moment, got a clear view into his true character. It was  ugly and frightening--and, for women, definitive.

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Kellie Bean has been a Professor of English at Marshall University, an Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, and most recently, Provost of a small New England College. Author of "Post-Backlash Feminism: Women and the Media Since Reagan/Bush" (McFarland (more...)

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