Rand Paul says there’s no War on Women because his niece is going to be a veterinarian

According to Rand Paul, the success of the women in his family proves that if there is a war on women, the women are winning it. It sounds like someone needs to brush up on their Kimberlé Crenshaw, STAT.I always had a sneaking suspicion that Rand Paul wasn’t well versed in intersectional feminist theory. It turns out I’m right. When David Gregory asked Paul on Meet The Press to comment on Mike Huckabee’s recent misogynist diatribe, the senator said,

This whole sort of war on women thing, I’m scratching my head because if there was a war on women, I think they won. You know, the women in my family are incredibly successful.

I have a niece at Cornell vet school, and 85% of the young people there are women. In law school, 60% are women; in med school, 55%. My younger sister’s an ob-gyn with six kids and doing great. You know, I don’t see so much that women are downtrodden; I see women rising up and doing great things. And, in fact, I worry about our young men sometimes because I think the women really are out-competing the men in our world.

Giving Paul the benefit of the doubt, I’m guessing, Gregory offered him a do-over and gave him a chance to provide an answer founded in policy and analysis, as opposed to the Paul Family Tree, accomplished as it may be:

My question, about whether you think it’s appropriate for the party, key figures in the party, to be talking about women, women’s health, women’s bodies, and the role of the federal government related to those things?

At which point Paul totally picked up what Gregory was putting down dropped the ball once again:

But what I would say is that we didn’t start this sort of I think glossy and sometimes dumbed-down debate about, you know, there being a war on women. I think the facts show that women are doing very well, have come a long way.

And, you know, like I say, I have a lot of successful women in my family and I don’t hear them saying, “Oh, woe is me. This terrible, you know, misogynist world.” They look out and they’re conquering the world. The women in my family are doing great, and that’s what I see in all the statistics coming out. I have, you know, young women in my office that are the leading intellectual lights of our office.

So I don’t really see this, that there’s some sort of war that’s, you know, keeping women down.

image via National Women's Law Center and Think Progress
image via National Women’s Law Center and Think Progress

OK, Rand. We get it. the women in your life are doing really well. But, do you, Rand, get that this is a question about policy and not biography?And that your anecdotes gleaned from family reunions aren’t actually the best indicator of whether or not there is a war on women? Before determining that women are doing better than men professionally, you may want to compare your homegrown and charmingly quaint data to data data. For instance, actual studies show that women don’t get promoted as frequently as men, though they ask for promotions just as much; women are less appreciated though they are asked for more favors at work; and women still get paid less than men. On average, women get paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. And the wage gap is even worse for women of color, with African American women earning 64 cents and Latina women just 55 cents (see image above).

Which brings us to the intersectionality thing. Even if you want to use biography in place of facts, don’t you get that bragging about the success of women who are from an already successful, politically connected, not to mention white family doesn’t make the best PR? Usually when white Republicans play the individual story instead of overall picture card, they have the sense to share an anecdote about someone not, you know, related to them. They tend to come from struggle, be poorer, maybe not even white. And their stories are invented or co-opted to serve not as exceptions to the rule but as the norm.

But back to what we’re really talking about when we talk about the War on Women. I appreciate that your comprehensive view includes economic justice (not that you’d use those words, per se) and the intersection between economic and social issues (though, again, you wouldn’t use those words exactly). but Huckabee and Gregory and almost everyone who uses the term War on Women is referring, at least in part, if not primarily, to the attack on reproductive rights. Things like, as the ACLU puts it so nicely, “restricting contraception; cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood; state-mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasounds; abortion taxes; abortion waiting periods; forcing women to tell their employers why they want birth control, and prohibiting insurance companies from including abortion coverage in their policies.” Or the desire to probe the very thing you are to afraid to utter. It’s called the vagina.

Even your fellow GOPer John McCain acknowledges there is a War on Women. Though, in all fairness, you and Huckabee probably consider him a Democrat, anyway.

Real Clear Politics has the transcript of the entire video clip here.

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