Can the GOP survive the loss of the both the Female and Youth Vote?
As Republicans mourn the failure of their attempt to overturn President Obama’s newest health care mandate requiring that all insurance policies – even those funded by Religious organizations – cover birth control for women, the GOP’s anti-woman stance appears to be growing louder as it gains traction within the Conservative community.
Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh, recently outraged by a young college woman’s attempt to speak before the all-male congressional committee deciding on the controversial “Blunt Amendment,” went on a public rampage this month attacking not only the speaker herself but women in general. A strong supporter of the failed bill, Limbaugh made his opinions known through his outspoken remarks lamenting the forced coverage of birth control as part of mandatory employer provided insurance.
In his rage, Limbaugh accused the young woman of being a “slut” and a “prostitute” for speaking about the issue. He claimed that women were receiving payment for having sex by accepting and using “free” birth control (ignoring the fact that women often have to contribute more for insurance costs because of their financial risk of pregnancy) and were using taxpayer money because they were having “so much sex.” In a later angry session, Limbaugh launched a hate-filled speech alleging that the “taxpayers” who are paying for women to have endless amounts of sex should have the favor returned to them. He demanded that in return for their investment any woman using insurance-paid birth control should be forced to put videos of herself having sex online so that men like himself could watch.
Mitt Romney – the current front runner in the GOP primary race has his own ties to degrading anti-woman organizations. Romney’s former Utah Finance co-chair, Robert Lichfield, is the owner of the extremely profitable Mormon-based chain of teenage behavior modification schools known as The World Wide Association of Specialty schools, or “WWASP.”
Among its various facilities within the US and abroad, WWASP, now operating under the name Teen Revitalization, offers a residential program for pregnant teens. Based in rural Utah, the school keeps young girls against their will while they face their deepest issues and undergo strict behavior modification training, all while preparing for child-birth.
Directly taken from the school’s most recent advertisement, the school promotes itself as supporting, “expecting teen mothers in identifying and carefully considering their options, including the option of giving their baby up for adoption. A young woman can learn a valuable lesson about love and personal responsibility by choosing to use our adoption services to give her baby to a family that is prepared to raise a child and can provide for all their needs. Although young women may experience the loss and grief of letting go of their new baby, they will experience this loss in a supportive environment with plenty of resources to help them deal with these feelings. The pain caused by irresponsible choices can eventually be replaced with a sense of inner strength and the peace of mind through making the unselfish decision to give a child a chance for a better life.”
How shocking that a pro-life advocate and recent supporter of the Blunt amendment would have ties to a “school” that not only forces women to carry their children to term but then “encourages” them to give their infants away, far from the prying eyes of judgemental neighbors and other “traditional” onlookers.
Romney’s involvement in the troubled teen industry is nothing new. By supporting the demand for “family values” based candidates, this industry has not only helped to silence our nation’s youth into submission but has also helped to perpetuate outdated ideas about women and their roles in sexual violence, rape, and molestation.
A 2003 article by Decca Aitkenhead for the Guardian includes a rare interview with the psychologist tasked by WWASP for leading its optional issue-based support groups.
Dr. Chappuis, a Utah-based psychiatrist who ran both the support groups and private sessions within all WWASP facilities is quoted as stating, “’One of the groups I do here, it’s called Rape And Molest. They struggle with a lot of guilt in that group. You know, a lot of these girls dress and act provocative. They get involved in substance abuse. They place themselves at risk and then they get taken advantage of. Now, we always say no means no. We’re real clear about that. But then we say, you know, you’ve got to look at how you market yourself. Girls can be hard work to help,’ he chuckles. ‘They are so much more dramatic than boys.”
To even dabble in the psychology that a woman is somehow to blame for her own rape, molestation or abuse is a disgrace both to modern psychology and women in general.
Romney’s former company Bain Capital now holds ownership of Aspen Education Group. Once heralded as the most prominent and sought-after provider of long-term experiential treatment for troubled youth, Aspen’s programs have since faced disgrace under allegations of negligent homicide, emotional and sexual abuse and general disregard for human rights.
Aaron Bacon died under Aspen’s care, the result of untreated illness. Before his death, he was referred to by staff as “Fakin’ Bacon” as a reply to his consistent claims of illness. Though he defecated on himself multiple times a day, complained of intense abdominal pain and could not manage to hike through the remote Utah wilderness without frequent falls and periods of mental delusion, staff members refused to seek medical care. When he finally collapsed, it was found that none of the wilderness staff had been adequately trained in CPR or emergency medical skills. Upon autopsy his body showed not only signs of severe external trauma, likely brought on through violent attacks, but also untreated internal illness that eventually lead to his slow and painful death.
A separate $14 million dollar lawsuit was filed by former students of Aspen’s programs, most of whom attended the programs in the 1990’s, alleging gross negligence, physical abuse, and the humiliation and degradation of young female students within its care.
The lawsuit asserts that as part of treatment children – mainly young girls – were forced to perform lap dances, mantras involving repetitive and degrading statements involving their sexuality in front of staff and peers, and public reenactments of their own enjoyment of rape and molestation in front of their peers.. According to the lawsuit’s press release, “The allegations…are consistent with the findings by the Oregon Department of Human Services. The DHS report cited nine substantiated claims of abusive practices, including sexualized role play and reenactment of traumatic events such as prior physical or sexual abuse.”
Other conservatives are adopting many of the same principles as Romney.
Indiana lawmaker Bob Morris recently refused to support the Girl Scouts, openly admonishing their feminist and “pro-gay” agenda. Rep. Morris wrote a letter to his fellow lawmakers, encouraging them to boycott the all-girls group after performing “web research” that helped him to conclude that, “The Girl Scouts of America and their worldwide partner, Word Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), have entered into a close strategic affiliation with Planned Parenthood.”
Outside of their “pro-abortion” agenda, Morris goes off further to attack the female role models promoted by the Girl Scouts. Despite their successes as independent, financially stable and morally admired women within society, he denounces these individuals noting that, “..only three have a briefly mentioned religious background – all the rest are feminists, lesbians, or Communists.”
Rick Santorum, who is largely coming up second in the Conservative primaries, is funded largely by Universal Health Services (UHS). UHS is yet another private, for-profit health care provider that makes its money largely off the suffering of teens and young women struggling for independence and choice about their own bodies in a strict, religious environment.
According to Esquire magazine, Santorum is quoted as stating that sex is, “supposed to be within marriage. It’s supposed to be for purposes that are yes, conjugal… but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen… This is special and it needs to be seen as special.” Further, contraception, according to Santorum is “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
The current Conservative attitudes – and acceptance of funds – indicate that most right-wind politicians are willing to attempt election without the support of women or youth voters. Can this be accomplished? We shall see. The GOP, with each act of public disappointment, seems to alienate itself further from those forces that helped Obama to win in the prior election. Unsure of their current motivations, one can only speculate that these are the true beliefs of the right-wing fanatics. As a women, or young adult – do you support this rhetoric? Sound off below.