Conservative Pundits Lash Out At Single Female Voters

What Women Really Think
Nov. 9 2012 10:51 AM

Why Did Romney Lose? Conservatives Blame Single Women

155668991
If either of these women recently had tons of sex, they voted Obama

Photograph by Darren Hauck/Getty Images.

Now that the shock of losing has settled in, the conservative media has moved on to the important task of castigating the various demographics that broke for Obama, a reaction that can in no way be one of the reasons said demographics dislike Republicans. Since Obama won basically everyone but nonurban white men and their wives, there are a lot of different groups to hate on, but a clear front-runner in the Blame Game has emerged: single women, who gave 68 percent of their vote to Obama, compared to 53 percent of married women who voted for Romney.

There are many reasons for this divergence, including age, income, and racial differences between the single and married women, but right-wing media looks to be settling on a favorite explanation: Loose gals vote Obama. Unlike, say, Sean Hannity's now evolving position on immigration, clearly morphing in order to somehow get his guys a few Latino votes, this impulse to label single women as sluts is certainly no one's idea of voter outreach. But it does serve the dual purpose of demonizing Obama voters and reminding Fox News and rightwing talk radio audiences of their favorite porn narratives. Laura Ingraham, sitting in as host of The O'Reilly Factor last night, brought together a panel of church ladies to sneer at the unmarried and their wanton ways:

The overall narrative of the segment is, to paraphrase: Single women are so obsessed with birth control and abortion that they can't be bothered to care about the economy or even take care of their kids. There were many jaw-droppers during the segment, but my favorite might be Gretchen Carlson saying that married women vote more on the economy, "because when you're married, abortion is not really—or contraception for that matter—is not maybe a huge part of your life." In Carlson's bizarro world, only single women have sex and only married women have kids. (Contrary to any stereotypes trotted out on Fox News, married people have more sex than single people, so you really shouldn't put "getting laid more" on your list of reasons to avoid the institution.)

Advertisement

Other right-wing pundits were even more crass. Andrea Tantaros accused single women of voting for no other reason than wanting "free" birth control. Rush Limbaugh was his usual delightful self on the topic of single women having sex that doesn't involve him, saying that by being pro-choice, Obama treats women "like vaginas" and that Republicans need to "start our own abortion industry" to get women's vote.

Reproductive rights do matter to female voters, as I'm the first to say. Some male voters, too, the ones who remember what conservatives apparently forget, which is that sex without making a baby every time is a winning proposition for men, too. But there's no reason to assume that if Romney and Obama had the same views on contraception access and abortion rights, that Romney would have cleaned up those single female voters. Like married women, single women do vote on economic issues, of which the ability to control how many kids you have to feed is but one. Carlson gets close in the above segment to admitting this, but she frames it as single women being "dependent" on the government, completely ignoring government programs that married women are more likely to benefit from, such as the mortgage deduction or the new tax breaks for married couples.

None of these pundits even consider the possibility that it's not just single women who think about reproductive rights when they vote, but that plenty of other Americans—some loyal viewers of Fox News, I would imagine—also vote on reproductive rights, specifically to take those rights away. Perhaps the real truth is that if everyone just gave up on the sex and gender wars and let people do their thing, it's not the Republicans who would benefit. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 19 2014 6:22 PM Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.