Last night, the War on Women suffered a setback — due largely to women voters who used the ballot to re-elect President Barack Obama and to push back against absurd, insulting and just plain offensive comments about rape and women’s bodies.
As Veronica Arreola posted on Facebook:
Two of the biggest losers last night were the gentlemen who claimed that women have magic wombs that stop pregnancy from occurring during legitimate rape and if it does happen, it was a gift from God. The magic was in our votes, ladies. We’ve had it all along.
Erin Gloria Ryan’s post at Jezebel is succinctly titled “Team Rape Lost Big Last Night.” Read it for a complete look at races around the country.
Some highlights …
Missouri Rep. Todd Akin failed to unseat incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, causing Twitter to explode with a new round of Akin-related humor, like “Claire McCaskill legitimately wins and shuts that whole Akin thing down!”
John Koster was defeated by Suzan DelBene in Washington state — Koster famously referred to “the rape thing” and confused one woman’s choice with controlling all women’s choices: “I know a woman who was raped and kept the child, gave it up for adoption and doesn’t regret it.”
And in Illinois, Rep. Joe Walsh, who doesn’t believe abortion is ever necessary to save the life or health of a mother, lost to challenger Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs in combat.
For more analysis, Bryce Covert at The Nation examines the impact of politicians’ misogyny on the election outcomes, and concludes: “Score one for women’s rights, zero for attempts to control their bodies.”
Our Bodies, Our Votes …
“Our Bodies, Ourselves” turned up in a number of tweets last night. Anne Elizabeth Moore, who led The Ladydrawers on the road trip to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to the offices of Akin and McCaskill, posted this upon news of Akin’s defeat:
hey @RepToddAkin, now maybe you’ll finally have time to get crackin at all those books @oboshealth and @TheLadydrawers dropped off!
We heartily second that recommendation.
Following the defeat of Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock — who recently said, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen” — Jason Lefkowitz tweeted: “And in Indiana, Mourdock has officially been buried under a massive pile of hardback copies of ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves.'”
Jason Cherkis also took note of the upsets, tweeting: “GOP furiously buying ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ on Amazon.”
No need; with the public’s help, we’ll deliver the book to each and every member of Congress (41 days left to make this happen!).
Big gains for women and marriage equality …
We now have a record number of women in Senate, with 20 women Senators elected.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay senator, and the first woman senator from Wisconsin. Rep. Mazie Hirono became the first woman senator from Hawaii as well as the first Japan-born immigrant to be elected to the Senate and the first Buddhist.
Another big success last night was the passage of ballot measures in Maine and Maryland approving same-sex marriage, the first time it has been made legal through a popular vote. An amendment to ban same-sex marriage was defeated in Minnesota.
We’re still waiting to hear for sure about Washington state, but early returns are promising. Same-sex marriage is now legal in eight states as well as in Washington, D.C.
More good news: Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins is staying on the bench — he had been targeted for removal because of his role in the legalization of gay marriage in that state.
Mixed results on abortion-related measures …
Abortion-related measures were considered in two states. In Florida, voters defeated Amendment 6, which would have prevented state employees from using their healthcare coverage for most abortions, and would have affected privacy rights in a way that could have led to further restrictions.
In Montana, voters approved a parental notification measure requiring girls under age 16 to notify a parent or seek judicial bypass prior to terminating a pregnancy.
Lessons learned and work to be done …
Akiba Solomon at Colorlines shares “Five Race and Gender Justice Lessons Learned from This Marathon Election Cycle,” including this important point: “The Republican-led war on abortion, Title X-funded reproductive health care and contraceptive access was—and still is—a war on poor women of color and their families.”
And if anyone needs a reminder of the work we still have before us, On the Issues magazine has appropriately titled its fall issue “The Day After.”
From the editor’s note: “On wide-ranging issues — the economy to the environment, reproductive freedom to voting freedom, sexuality to media representation — our writers, artists and thinkers in The Day After remind us to extend our vision beyond the ballot box to where we need to place our energies, build our muscles and put our feet on the ground every day of the year.”
In other words, it’s time to get busy — again.