WASHINGTON – There is no "war on women" as the Democratic Party has argued, said liberal columnist Kirsten Powers, in a debate about "Mad Women" and "the battle of the sexes." While the other liberal panelist disagreed, the conservatives argued that there is an under-reported "war on men."
"I will concede there is no war on women as presented by the Democratic Party," Powers, a columnist for the Daily Beast and a contributor for Fox News, admitted, at a Washington, D.C. event hosted by the Independent Women's Forum and National Review. Groups like Planned Parenthood are "abortion rights groups, not women's groups," she said.
Her remarks refer to the "War on Women" theme used by Democrats against Republicans in the 2012 elections. Raising issues such as contraception and abortion, Democrats accused Republicans of attacking women's rights over their own body. Powers said this attack proved more of a smokescreen to push a pro-abortion agenda.
Powers did, however, recall the difficulty with lower wages and career barriers to entry that she and other women faced early in her career. She argued that she experienced sexist pay discrimination while working in the Clinton administration. "In government, they have a pot of money and they decide who they're going to screw over," she remarked.
When her fellow liberal panelist, Judy Bachrach, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair and columnist for World Affairs Journal, read a long list of Republican politicians' misogynist quotes, Powers shot back a firm rebuttal. She said she could bring out a similar list of Democrats. "Misogyny is a real thing, but it is a bipartisan problem, and the answer is not to make life hard for men," the Daily Beast columnist argued.
That's exactly what the feminist movement has achieved, argued Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men. Citing the declining number of males graduating high school, college, and even graduate school, she said "the war on boys is a war of attrition."
The two ways to attract boys to school are an engineering department and a football team, and feminists are making both more difficult, Sommers said. She referred to quotas, meant to ensure that the same amount of boys and girls play sports. Since more boys want to play sports than girls, this ends up disadvantaging the boys. Furthermore, some teachers rename the game tug-of-war, "tug-of-peace."
Sommers argued that underachieving young men also present a problem for women, because they are the women's future spouses. Moderator Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large at National Review, lamented the general social problems of women condescending to the social mores of bachelors, as opposed to gentlemen attempting to court ladies. "Importing bro culture into female culture is not a good idea," he said.
"A lot of women's progress is coming at the expense of men," argued Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women's Forum and co-author of Liberty is No War on Women: How Big Government and Victim-Politics Undermine America's Progress. Schaeffer argued that the true war on women is the sexualization that drives a girl like Miley Cyrus to "twerk" onstage.
"If there is a war on women, it's from anti-gender feminists, and the only patriarchy is from the daddy state," Schaeffer quipped. She said that girls being encouraged to act like boys takes away their freedom. She also argued that government programs subsidizing single mothers continue to weaken the family culture across America.
"The 'War on Women' is a ploy of the Left to shut down opponents of big government," Schaeffer declared. She advocated a smaller government, promising that fewer regulations would help achieve more opportunity for boys and girls.