Olympic ‘Romney shambles’: UK broadsheets overlook women
Among the plethora of news stories generated by the Olympics this week (and wasn’t the opening ceremony fantastic? Kudos to Danny Boyle!) have been several stories about the remarks made by Mitt Romney, the US Republican presidential candidate.
Visiting the UK this week, Romney, in a massive miscalculation of his audience, commented on the G4S shortage of security staff and the possibility of an immigration and custom officials strike during the Games.
‘Romneyshambles’ as these gaffes have become known, did not go down well with the British. Prime Minister David Cameron is intending to address them with Romney later on this week, and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, addressed a crowd in Hyde Park with the comment:
“There’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready?”
Meanwhile, Carl Lewis, the winner of nine Olympic gold medals for the US, said “seriously, some Americans just shouldn’t leave the country”.
But what is striking for me is the subsequent coverage of the ‘Romneyshambles’ in the UK broadsheets – in particular three stories in The Guardian, The Observer and The Telegraph – none of which mentioned the current war on women that Romney and his party are waging over in the US.
For Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian, his take down of Romney is all about how he is not really a politician at all, but rather a former CEO of a private equity business: “Perhaps he is no more than an accomplished corporate leader who aspires to the biggest CEO job on the planet – and knows that to get it he has to pretend to be a politician.”
Henry Porter of The Observer writes that the former CEO appears to have traded in any sense of personality and conviction in order to turn himself into the Republican’s ideal presidential material.
Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Chris Irvine focuses on Romney’s scramble to minimise the damage over his remarks about his wife’s Welsh ancestry and his great grandfather coming from Preston.
So, Freedland, Porter and Irvine – can I ask you why, in all three articles (which make some very good points about Romney’s unsuitability to be US president) – did you not mention EVEN ONCE the concentrated attack on women’s reproductive rights that is being carried out by the Republican party in general and Romney in particular?
There is a good overview of both the economic consequences for women and the impact on women’s reproductive rights of proposed Republican policies by Nancy Cohen in Rolling Stone Politics.
In essence, the Republicans are against the Democrat’s proposed Paycheck Fairness Act, which is intended to directly address male-female pay disparity. And they will fight to repeal Obamacare - an Act that will provide heathcare coverage for an extra 30 million of the poorest Americans (17 million of whom are women).
Romney recently lauded a budget that would see cuts in childcare, food provision and healthcare, which would affect nearly 20 million children.
He endorsed the failed Blunt-Rubio Amendment, which would have allowed employers to morally object to providing birth control to women under their insurance coverage, telling the National Rifle Association that “As president, I will abolish [the contraception mandate]“.
Finally, he is intending to overturn Roe vs Wade – an Act that made abortion legal in the United States in 1973. And not only this, he has also backed a bill to outlaw all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
The war on women that is raging over in the US is, quite frankly, scary. The impact of a Republican president, and subsequent Republican policies on women living in the US, would be devastating.
Not only denied free contraception, but also access to free abortion, women who could not pay for either would be forced to bear children that they could not afford to raise.
Further, by keeping women constantly pregnant they would be unable to either enter or stay in the workforce due to the poor US provision of childcare – in 2011 only 5% of US children under three, and only 54% of children aged three to six were in publicly-supported childcare.
This could mean that financially-strapped women, desperate not to have yet another baby, may resort to the kind of backstreet abortions that Roe vs Wade was set up to stop.
And this brings me to the importance of the existence of Women’s Views on News. Elsewhere and every day women read news written by men and too often the news they report does not consider a woman’s point of view on current issues. Nowhere is this more evident than in these three pieces by these three men writing in three of the UK’s most popular broadsheets.
For me and, I would argue, most women, this attack on US women’s reproductive choices is an attack on women’s independence and ability to make informed choices about their lives. The underlying premise of this attack is that women are not capable of making their own life choices – but more than this – it signals that women are unimportant in the general scheme of things. We should, perhaps, get back into the kitchen where we belong and let the men get on with business.
Sadly, by not including the war on women as part of their articles against Romney becoming the next US president, the three writers named above are colluding in this attitude. Otherwise, they would have privileged the war on women as the most important aspect of Romney’s complete unsuitability as future US president. Or, if this is too much to ask, they would have AT THE VERY LEAST mentioned it.
This is why the existence of Women’s Views on News – with our our ethos of building a world where all women’s voices are heard by all - is important.
Male writers – please take note.