he government shutdown, which has lasted for nearly two weeks and could stretch on as many as six more, is a budget fight that is currently being negotiated solely by men. It’s possible that the gender imbalance is one of the factors that’s preventing lawmakers from being able to strike a deal, as analyses have shown that men are more likely to take risks and less likely to concede in negotiations.
However, even though the current budget crisis was created by men and continues to be sustained by men, that’s not the population feeling most of the pain resulting from it. Keeping the government closed is actually having a disproportionate effect on women.
This type of uneven gender dynamic is most evident in the instances when men work to legislate women’s reproductive health — an element that was present in the shutdown fight, too, as Republicans proposed rolling back women’s access to birth control under Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government funded. But male lawmakers make decisions that end up mainly affecting women in other areas, too, as clearly illustrated in the current stand-off. Here are six examples of the way the government shutdown is disproportionately harming the women who aren’t making decisions about it…
From Terry O’Neill, NOW President: Women and Children First — Thrown Overboard by the Government Shutdown
Anyone who’s seen a disaster movie set at sea is familiar with the phrase, “women and children first,” meaning they are the first to be put in lifeboats.
But in the real-life disaster that in the Republican Tea Party’s government shutdown, “women and children first” is the order in which victims of the shutdown are selected.
In one sense, the government shutdown is all about the worst kind of politics — right-wing politicians using hostage-taking tactics to advance an agenda that they can’t pass any other way. They have tried and failed to get it through Congress since 2011. The voters roundly rejected their agenda in the 2012 elections. So they threaten to destroy our economy unless they get what they want. Can they get away with that?
I don’t think so. Because in an important sense, the shutdown is not about politics — it’s about people. And people — real people, people you know- -a re being hurt.
In next year’s elections, “women and children first” won’t mean we’re the first ones to suffer — we’ll be leading the way to a better future.