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George W. Bush and the War on Women

George W. Bush and the War on Women

Barbara Finlay


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This book takes a devastating look at the actions and policies of the George W. Bush administration in terms of their impact on women in the United States and abroad. Surprisingly, this is a largely ignored aspect of Bush's presidency, even though his policies have in many ways reversed or inhibited women's progress over the past three decades. While the media have focused on his opposition to abortion, Bush's less-publicized anti-feminist agenda has in fact been much more extensive. He has opposed women's interests in multiple ways, from shutting down women's offices in the government to de-funding programs that assist women, from opposing global women's rights treaties to supporting anti-feminist organizations. Contrary to his public claims that 'W stands for Women,' his policies, appointments and actions reveal a strongly patriarchal bent. This book also includes a chapter on the negative effects on women of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
'...a useful tool for anyone looking into the sheer brutality of present-day US politics. Read it and seethe.' Morning Star
Barbara Finlay is Professor of Sociology at the Texas A&M University, specializing in women's rights. She also directs the Women's Studies Program at the University.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover\r cover
Contents v
Preface ix
1. George W. Bush's Radical American Revolution\r 1
Presidential powers and women's rights\r 5
Conservative movements and Republican politics 7
Significance for women of conservative success 9
Plan of the book 10
2. In the China Shop: Closing Agencies, Eliminating Initiatives, Changing Procedures 13
3. Power through Appointments: Rewarding Ideologues and Friends 23
Right-wing organizations and the Bush administration\r 24
Cronyism and political payback in Bush appointments 28
Bush's 'diversity' strategy 29
A rogue gallery of Bush apointees 30
Bush's ambivalence on gay appointees\r 40
4. Managing Information: Erasures, Manipulation, Distortion 42
Reducing public access to reliable information 44
Political manipulation of scientific research and information 52
Reaction of the scientific community 62
The dangers of politicizing information\r 63
5. Reproductive, Rights, Sexuality, and Abstinence: Limiting Women's Freedoms 64
The birth control revolution 64
Sex education wars 65
Misinformation and ineffective advice for parents 71
The partial-birth abortion ban 72
Redifining the status of the fetus, at the expense of women 73
Reducing access to contraception for everyone 75
Does Bush oppose contraception? Troubling questions 76
Abortions rise under Bush 79
Ideological appointments to reproductive policy positions 80
Bush bravely protects marriage\r 85
6. Restricting Reproductive Rights around the Globe: Threatening Women's Lives to Please the Right 88
Reproductive rights as human rights 90
Reinstating the global gag rule 91
Fighting AIDS with abstinence 99
Inhibiting successful sex-worker anti-AIDS programs 102
Withdrawing funding from the UNFPA 105
Opposing the World Health Organization 107
Conclusion: Undermining women's reproductive freedom is a Bush priority 108
7. Bush versus the Women of the World: Are Women's Rights Human Rights? 109
Opposing comfort women's suit against Japan 110
Refusing asylum to domestic violence victims 112
Retreat from international women's rights goals and treaties 114
The Beijing Plus Ten conference 119
Bush administration backs out of support for CEDAW 122
Bush appointees with international women's rights responsibilities 123
8. Stacking the Deck Against Women: Bush and the Courts 130
Bush selection strategies 131
A sampling of Bush's court nominees 133
The supremes: Changing the court of last resort 141
Bush's justice in the courts: Failure to prosecute discrimination 147
9. Weakening Support for Women's Education and Health 150
Challenging Title IX protections 151
Opposing diversity in higher education 154
Cutting programs that work 157
Bush and women's health 158
Politicizing women's health needs in Afghanistan 163
10. How Bush's Economic and Budget Priorities Hurt Women 166
Dismantling the Great Society 166
Threatening Social Security 169
Bankruptcy legislation: Women as economic victims 175
Tax policy: Shifting the burden, rewarding the rich 177
Increasing poverty and the Bush response 178
Welfare changes and Medicaid cuts 181
Marriage as the answer to women's poverty 183
Funding antifeminist religious groups 185
11. The Real Bush Revealed: Lessons from Katrina 189
Initial signs of disarray 189
Mismanagement of the real crisis 192
Charges of racism and class bias 195
Women the majority of victims 196
Taking political advantage 197
The lessons of Katrina 205
12. Bush Wars and Militarism: Heavy Burdens for Women 207
Losing the peace in Afghanistan 207
Women and war in Iraq: Losing ground 210
Undermining human rights 214
Karen Hughes's failed diplomacy 216
War and militarism: The hidden costs to women 219
Rhetoric and reality: Using feminist language to undermine feminism 224
13. Conclusions: Where Do We Go from Here? 226
Thoughts on moving forward 230
Appendix 233
Notes 235
References 239
Index 259