Politics USA, April 29, 2012 by Jason Easley
Republicans tried to target Rachel Maddow in their war on women, but Maddow made history by calling out the GOP’s condescending misogyny on Meet The Press (watch video).
RACHEL MADDOW: Policy. It should be about policy. And all of our best debates are always about policy. And it should be about policy that affects women specifically. The Romney campaign wants to talk about women and the economy. Women in this country still make 77 cents on the dollar for what men make. So if–
ALEX CASTELLANOS: Not exactly.
RACHEL MADDOW: Women don’t make less than men?
ALEX CASTELLANOS: Actually, if you start looking at the numbers, Rachel, there are lots of reasons for that.
RACHEL MADDOW: Wait, wait. No.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: Well, first of all, we–
RACHEL MADDOW: Don’t tell me what the reasons are. Do women make less than men for the same work?
ALEX CASTELLANOS: Actually–
ALEX CASTELLANOS: –because.
RACHEL MADDOW: No? (LAUGH) Okay. No.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: Well, for example—
ALEX CASTELLANOS: –men work an average of 44 hours a week. Women work 41 hours a week. Men go into professions like engineering, science and math that earn more. Women want more flexibility–
RACHEL MADDOW: Listen, this is not a math is hard type of conversation.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: No, no. Yes, it is, actually.
RACHEL MADDOW: No, it isn’t.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: We’re having to look–
RACHEL MADDOW: No, listen–
DAVID GREGORY: All right, let Rachel–
RACHEL MADDOW: Right now women are making 77 cents–
ALEX CASTELLANOS: And litigated–
RACHEL MADDOW: –on the dollar for what men are making, so–
ALEX CASTELLANOS: Well, that’s not true.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: If so every–
DAVID GREGORY: All right, let Rachel make her point.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: –greedy businessman in America would hire only women, save 25% and be hugely profitable.
RACHEL MADDOW: I feel like this is actually–
ALEX CASTELLANOS: That’s it.
RACHEL MADDOW: –and it’s weird that you’re interrupting me and not letting me make my point, because we get along so well. So let me make my point.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: I will.
RACHEL MADDOW: But it is important, I think, the interruption is important, I think, because now we know, at least from both of your perspectives that women are not faring worse than men in the economy. That women aren’t getting paid less for equal work. I think that’s a serious difference in factual understanding of the world.
But given that some of us believe that women are getting paid less than men for doing the same work, there is something called the Fair Pay Act. There was a court ruling that said the statute of limitations, if you’re getting paid less than a man, if you’re subject to discrimination, starts before you know that discrimination is happening, effectively cutting off your recourse to the courts. You didn’t know you were being discriminated against. You can’t go.
The first law passed by this administration is the Fair Pay Act. To remedy that court ruling. The Mitt Romney campaign put you out as a surrogate to shore up people’s feelings about this issue after they could not say whether or not Mitt Romney would have signed that bill. You’re supposed to make us feel better about it. You voted against the Fair Pay Act. It’s not about–whether or not you have a female surrogate. It’s about policy and whether or not you want to fix some of the structural discrimination that women really do face that Republicans don’t believe is happening.
DAVID GREGORY: It’s policy is the argument.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: It’s policy. And I love how passionate you are. I wish you are as right about what you’re saying as you are passionate about it. I really do.
RACHEL MADDOW: That’s really condescending.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: For example– no.
RACHEL MADDOW: I mean this is a stylistic issue.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: I’ll tell you what–
RACHEL MADDOW: My passion on this issue–
ALEX CASTELLANOS: Here’s a fact–
RACHEL MADDOW:–is actually me making a factual argument–
Rachel Maddow was correct. The interruption by Castellanos was significant, because Republicans don’t want to talk about the war on women. They have adopted the same position towards the rights of women that they long ago adopted towards issues like poverty and racism. It doesn’t exist. Castellanos was trying to muddy the waters with funny math designed to deny the fact that women earn less than men. Women who work full time earn 77% of what men do. Until today, that fact was not in dispute.
Castellanos tried to use different factors to claim that the wage gap doesn’t exist, but even when all factors are taken into account, 41% of the wage gap is unexplained. This means that when a man and a woman have the same background, are doing the same job, and are working the same hours, women still make less money than men.
For Alex Castellanos the argument was matter of political strategy. His goal was to make some people believe that there is cause for question on the existence of the pay gap. (You may also recognize this strategy as the exact same course the right has pursued on climate change).
Castellanos’s behavior towards Maddow proved that the Republican Party has declared war on women. By watching the video, you can see his condescending tone directed at Maddow. When he said that he appreciated her passion, but that she was wrong, he was trying to portray her as an irrational woman who was being guided by her emotions.
The fact that Alex Castellanos thought he had the right to demean Dr. Rachel Maddow’s intellect because she is a woman demonstrates that the Republican Party’s war on women goes deeper than politics and policy. In their hearts, they truly believe that women aren’t equal to men.
It was enraging and embarrassing to watch Rachel Maddow get treated that way on national television. It is even more embarrassing to think that most men, including myself, have behaved that way at one time or another towards a woman. (The good news is that men can learn, grow, and change if they really want to.)
The Republican war on women is a political affirmation of misogyny. The Republican message to men is vote for us to reclaim your rightful place of superiority. You don’t have to change. Women are beneath you. Let’s keep them in their place. We can stop progress. Sadly, there is a group of men in this country who find the prospect of codified misogyny both attractive and exciting.
The goal was to put Rachel Maddow in her place, and to stop the “hysteria” from the “girls” who don’t understand that because men say so there is no war on women and pay gap.
When Rachel Maddow called out Alex Castellanos’s misogyny on Meet The Press it was an historic moment in the push back against the war on women. I can’t remember another woman in the media standing up and calling out the condescending behavior of the right wing champions of the war on women. The mainstream media, except for MSNBC, has mostly ignored the war on women. Much like the Republican Party, the media has acted like it does not exist.
Republicans are afraid. They don’t want the country to know about their anti-woman agenda, and they would love nothing more than to discredit one of the primary national watchdogs of their behavior, Rachel Maddow.
But this is bigger than Rachel Maddow on Meet The Press. This is a civil rights issue that impacts all Americans regardless of gender. There are no men’s issues, or women’s issues. There are American issues, and we all must stand together to reject the agenda of discrimination and inequality being perpetuated on us by the Republican Party under the guise of a war on women.
Because this isn’t a war on women, it’s a war on us all.