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November 1, 2012

Backward on Women's Dignity

By

“We have made woman a sex creature,” complained a psychiatrist at the Margaret Sanger clinic, according to Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminist Mystique. A half-century later, a new Obama ad proudly likens voting for the first time to a young woman losing her virginity.

You’ve come a long way, baby. But not necessarily forward.

Women’s liberation is parodying itself in “The First Time” spot featuring Lena Dunham, 26-year-old creator of the shockingly sexualized HBO series Girls.

“Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody,” Dunham provocatively begins the ad. “You want to do it with a great guy.”

“My first time voting was amazing,” says Dunham. She salaciously describes her vote for Barack Obama as a rite of passage to womanhood, dangling a policy teaser about free birth control along the way.

It is an astonishingly base, sex-centric monologue that degrades public discourse and demeans young women in particular. Seeing sexual double entendre everywhere is typically the sport of sophomoric boys. Now adults are using it to stoop for the youth vote—and expecting women to fall for it.

“The First Time” is the lowest yet in a year of new political lows when it comes to infantilizing women.

First, liberals fabricated the “War on Women” to shroud a bumbling Obamacare mandate that trampled on religious liberty. The coercive policy requires, with few exceptions, coverage of abortion drugs and contraception despite conscience objections. When religious charities sought relief, liberals accused them and their defenders of assaulting women’s freedom—as if the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections don’t apply to women, too.

Then they brought us the government-driven Life of Julia. The faceless female seemed hardly capable of taking a step in life without government intervention from the “hubby state,” as one observer dubbed it.

Now, “The First Time” combines sexual and political debut—and vulgarizes both. In a day when more than 40 percent of children are born outside of marriage (and therefore six times more likely to experience poverty) and one out of four teen girls has a sexually transmitted disease, it is brazenly irresponsible of any leader to play on premarital sex in this way.

But it is particularly sad that the purported champions of women’s interests would objectify female sexuality for political ends. It’s hard to imagine any woman not being revolted, anyone with a daughter not being scandalized.

The ad actually flaunts its own short-sightedness: “Think about how you want to spend those four years. In college-age time, that’s 150 years.” It’s true that with our current policy trajectory, America’s horizon seems limited.

But to attribute centennial significance to an undergrad’s matriculation—or a presidential term—is to lose all sense of history. To sexually pander toward the youth vote is to degrade the sober calling of citizenship. And to so trivialize female sexuality is to deal a setback to the dignity of women.

Jennifer A. Marshall is director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.

First appeared in Real Clear Politics.

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