Sandra Fluke ‘05 has found herself in the crosshairs again. This time the Cornell graduate received condemnation from Rep. Joe Walsh for her appearance at the Democratic National Convention. In what sounded like Rush Limbaugh 2.0, Walsh declared that the women’s rights activist was “a student for life” and should “go get a job.” This comes on the heels of Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Missouri) controversial and grossly incorrect statements about “legitimate rape” in August.
Given the anti-woman vibe the GOP has been giving off lately, this is the last thing they need. The GOP is struggling with its image among women and is suffering from a severe gender disparity in its voters.
This is a crucial electoral year for both parties. The GOP is looking to maintain its hold in the House while facing down a determined Democratic challenge. What Rep. Walsh doesn’t seem to understand is that his attack on Fluke is easily seen as an attack on women. His words, and Akin’s, lend credibility to the Democrats’ allegation that the Republicans have unleashed a war on women and female interests. The constant Foot-In-Mouth Syndrome the GOP suffers from is an issue it cannot afford so close to November.
Barack Obama won the White House in 2008 because of the all-important female bloc. With an even closer presidential match-up in the works, Mitt Romney and the GOP know they need to win over more women to win. These latest missteps will not help that goal, especially with President Obama leading Mitt Romney by double digits in an August poll of female voters.
I don’t believe that the Republican Party has consciously initiated a war on women. However, there is no doubt that some of the ideas the party upholds publicly or within its fringes can be very detrimental to this vital voting group. Women have been overlooked and underestimated for most of history, but in such an important year, overlooking women could be the making of one party and the downfall of another.