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Mitt Romney: Bombing with modern women

April 02, 2012|By Alexandra Le Tellier
  • Mitt Romney listens as his wife, Ann, speaks at his election night event in Schaumburg, Ill.
Mitt Romney listens as his wife, Ann, speaks at his election night event… (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press…)

The return of Betty -- now better known as “Fat Betty” -- on Sunday’s '60s-era drama “Mad Men” elicited similar reactions around the Web: Pity. Where once there was an impossibly svelte, aloof and vain woman who was impossible to feel for, even as her (now ex-) husband was running around town with other women, there is now a remarried and hopeless housewife, whose dramatic weight gain seems to leave her with two choices: a life resigned to Bugles by the handful or a prescription for diet pills, per the advice of her mother-in-law. Meanwhile, back at the advertising firm of Betty’s ex-husband Don, female copywriter Peggy Olson is mistaken for a secretary, while an ad exec admits that he can’t tell the female secretaries apart.

As a woman, I couldn’t help but cringe as I watched. The episode was a stark reminder of how far we have -- and haven’t -- come as a society. As the 2012 GOP race pushes on, so too does the grind against women’s rights. There are the assaults on birth control and abortion and, in subtler ways, there are candidates like Mitt Romney, who evoke Ward Cleaver, an American dad of a sexist era.

In Sunday’s pages, the editorial board weighed in on the current state of women in California and American society as a whole. “The progress of women in American society is one of the great markers of this nation's egalitarianism, and though it remains incomplete, it should inspire pride in what has been accomplished as well as determination to complete the work,” they wrote. “Instead, it is deliberately polarized by those who would divide in order to win. Denigrating women for competitive advantage should be the politics of yesterday; sadly, they remain.”

Fortunately, a new USA Today/Gallup poll shows President Obama leading over Mitt Romney, with the widening gap attributed to women. In a piece in today’s Atlantic, Molly Ball writes that this election will be all about women. “Democrats, who have been milking the GOP's supposed ‘War on Women’ for all it's worth, point to the poll as evidence that Republicans including Romney have alienated women voters with their talk of hot-button social issues, particularly curbing access to contraception,” Ball writes. “Or maybe Romney's economic message is leaving women cold: The swing-state poll found women's No. 1 issue to be [healthcare], while men's was the national debt and deficit. The Romney campaign has recently been deploying Romney's charming wife Ann to do women's outreach; her pitch revolves around how concerned women are about the deficit. But according to this poll, that's not really the case -- the deficit was fourth among women's chief concerns.”


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