Sexism or just idiocy from Cato?

I’m flattered that Pandagon liked our post on a terrible ad campaign for diamonds.

But if Amanda thought that was bad, she should see some of the latest “reason” coming from our libertarian friends at Cato. David Boaz writes a post for Cato entitled “All Those Who’d Like to Live in Rwanda, Vietnam, or Cuba, Raise Your Hands” in response to a Parade article complaining about the lack of female representatives in Congress:

Parade magazine frets:

In the current U.S. Congress, women account for only 16.3% of the members: 16 of 100 in the Senate and 71 of 435 in the House of Representatives. Eighty-four nations have a greater percentage of female legislators than the U.S., including our neighbors Mexico and Canada, as well as Rwanda, Vietnam and Cuba.

It’s not exactly clear that legislatures with more women produce better government. So why, then, as Parade notes, does the United States demand that emerging democracies have gender quotas that we would never accept in our own politics?

After the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan and of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the United States made sure that when those two countries held elections, 25% of the seats in their legislatures would be reserved for women.

So what do we think people? Stupid? Sexist? Both?

No one in their right mind would read the quoted paragraph from Parade and make the idiotic leap that they were suggesting those governments are better. In fact, it’s a sign of how pathetic it is that our government lacks women that these governments we consider repressive still manage to surpass us in female representation. It’s a little bit like being behind Alabama in adult literacy. Gender quotas, further, are necessary to prevent countries that have deep problems with female equality from oppressing 50% of their population.

Why is Boaz playing stupid with us? He knows full well the purpose and reasoning in both cases. Is there no better argument sexists can use for the promotion of the status quo than the “duh” card?

It is pathetic we don’t have more women in congress because after all these years, almost 90 now since women’s suffrage, we still don’t have anything approaching equal representation in government. We have never elected a female president. Why does it matter? Because as long as moralizing cranks are going to occupy office and make decisions impinging on women’s health, and not men’s we’ve got a problem. When Viagra gets covered by government health programs but contraception is cut, we’ve got a huge problem. When the best solution government can come up with for improving families is covenant marriage, and abstinence education in the face of higher teen pregancy rates, we’ve got a ridiculous problem. Other than just fundamental fairness, recognition of the equality of females, and human decency there are specific instances in which women are having decisions made for them that affect their health and their bodies by a majority male government, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Surely these are arguments for advocating women in government that even an libertarian could understand. I hope we don’t have to dumb it down even more.