Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, on stage with actress Jamie Lee Curtis at left, reacts during a campaign event Tuesday in Buena Park, Calif. (John Locher / AP)

“If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote …” Donald Trump asserted back in April, adding: “The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card.” Sadly, his remark did not only reflect his own sexist views. Apparently, there are plenty of Americans who believe that womanhood is an advantage when it comes to running for the highest office in the country. A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Monday found that the ridiculous notion that women are more privileged than men has serious traction — among men, of course. And white men at that. Thirty-eight percent of all men, and 34 percent of all white Americans — in other words, those representing the most privileged demographics — believe that a candidate’s femaleness is a trump card (no pun intended). One can rebut this belief endlessly, by pointing to: women’s unequal pay; the lack of paid maternity leave in the United States; and women’s disproportionately low representation in political office, employment and media, etc. Women of color suffer even worse statistical biases than white women do. But perhaps nowhere does the disdain for women as human beings become clearer than in the arena of reproductive rights. In 2009, when President Obama launched his plan to reform the nation’s health care system, conservatives invented the bizarre and wholly dishonest concept of “death panels,” invoking mass fear of government overreach into health care-related decisions. Yet Republicans have had no qualms about reaching deep into the intimate details of women’s health care, especially when they want to restrict the right to contraception and abortion. Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., have even convened their very own panel to examine the practices of health care provider Planned Parenthood. Despite being legally exonerated of accusations of selling fetal tissue, Planned Parenthood remains under siege from Republicans intent on government interference in women’s health care. READ: The Common Roots of Misogynist Culture in Pakistan and the U.S. Purvi Patel did not get to play her so-called woman’s card when she was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for the “crime” of having a miscarriage. Patel is the only woman in the U.S. serving a sentence for such a crime, but there are laws in a majority of states that could be marshaled to criminalize women who dare to try to control their own bodies. Patel’s lawyers just filed an appeal of her sentence this week. It remains to be seen how well her female privilege will work. In state after state, Republican (mostly) men have restricted the constitutional right to an abortion. Oklahoma is the latest example of an overzealous Legislature attempting to criminalize doctors for performing abortions; Gov. Mary Fallin, one of only five women to hold such an office in the entire nation, made rare use of her “woman card” to promptly veto the bill. Is it a coincidence that a majority of states restrict abortion access in a nation with male-dominated state legislatures and male-dominated governorships? If men faced similar restrictions to their health care and intimate bodily decisions, there would be an uproar of epic proportions. No, wait — our patriarchal world would never allow such a state of affairs to be realized, which is why it is so outside the realm of our imagination. But let us try for a moment to fathom just how welcome government intrusion into men’s personal health care decisions would be. Donald Trump would be half the braggadocio he is. Rep. Paul Ryan would be lecturing us on the evils of big government rather than convening his “death-to-women’s-rights” panel. In other words, we would be living in a world where a “woman’s card” might actually be a thing. On the upside, women are working hard to assert that reproductive rights are women’s rights and that women’s rights are human rights. In Northern Ireland, where a case similar to Patel’s elicited public outrage, some women are engaging in creative civil disobedience to protest the illegality of abortion. They have acquired and ingested illegal abortion pills and offered themselves up for arrest as an act of protest.
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