Amy Fried, Ph.D.

Amy Fried, Ph.D. is a trusted author at, whose op-eds are compiled in "Escaping Dick Cheney's Stomach," on Amazon's Create Space.

Posts Written by Amy

Beyond Todd Akin: Framing Women as Non-Human or Invisible

A STYYCB entry.

Cross-posted  here and here.

If Todd Akin’s absurd comment on women’s biology has you thinking that parts of the GOP look at women as if we’re another species, you’re not alone. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to see feminist/animal rights activist Carol J. Adams’ point, that women are sometimes portrayed as animals, and vice versa. Akin’s ignorance illustrates a common thread in right-wing politics, in which women’s bodies are simply a means to an end; after all, the right-wing site The Daily Caller saw fit to publish an article asking “What are Women For?”

But as we focus on the latest outrageous right-wing assault on women’s humanity, I believe we lose sight of a larger pattern in Campaign 2012: when not speaking of women as some kind of bizarre species, economic campaign rhetoric often makes the unspoken assumption that the “standard” person is a male. As such, the unique contributions of, and consequences for, women are often obscured.

In its “economic” mode, the rhetoric of both sides tends to talk in terms of “generic workers” who are unencumbered by issues of family care. As Martha Fineman points out in The Autonomy Myth: A Theory of Dependency:

“Workplaces historically have been designed with the unencumbered worker in mind. The law only demands that women now have equal access to jobs and careers and be treated the same as that ‘autonomous,’ unencumbered individual.”

This rhetorical bounce that portrays women as alternatively aliens or invisible, creates a paradox whereby ...