People tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions. So what happens when one of our beliefs conflicts with another previously held belief? The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance. Under normal circumstances, we tend to try to square our beliefs or prioritize them in ways to reduce that discomfort. It’s human. I am not a particular fan of abortion, but I am a fan of reproductive rights. Rather than ban abortion, that would create cognitive dissonance in me because it would mean taking away the reproductive freedom of women, I support both safe and legal abortion and access to birth control for everyone because I understand that would reduce abortion. That is a perfect example of reducing the discomfort between my two conflicting beliefs. Politicians today seem to hold no such discomfort.
I use the term a lot because it’s the only definition that describes the political climate within the Conservative Movement today. Last evening, in the great State of Colorado, the House passed the second reading of the “First Degree Homicide of the Unborn Child” Bill. Under some circumstances, it makes both termination of pregnancy and the use of the morning after pill a homicide. It also confers personhood on a newly fertilized egg. What that means is, if a woman gets an abortion, or takes the morning after pill, she can be charged with first-degree murder, punishable by death. Nothing says to the world how much you value human life like sentencing a woman to death for terminating a pregnancy before it’s truly begun. That’s cognitive dissonance.
When obscenely wealthy Willard Romney tells us how his children serve their country, not by volunteering for military service, but by getting him elected, all the while he’s calling for other people’s children to carpet bomb Tehran, that’s cognitive dissonance.
When Rush Limbaugh whines that Liberal Feminazi’s are attempting to restrict his free speech by signing petitions to pressure his sponsors into dropping their support of his program, that’s cognitive dissonance.
When Newt Gingrich lead the charge to impeach a sitting President for sexual impropriety, all the while he was involved in an on-going extramarital affair, that’s cognitive dissonance.
When the Catholic Church can lecture women on how their legal sexual behavior is having a negative moral impact on society, yet they ignore the plague of pedophile priests within their ranks, that’s cognitive dissonance.
Rich men calling poor single mothers “child abusers” while ignoring the problem of the men who get these women pregnant and who shirk their parental responsibilities, well, that’s cognitive dissonance.
When politicians lecture us on strict adherence to the Constitution while demanding the parts they don’t like be ignored, that’s cognitive dissonance.
Politicians lecturing struggling Americans on deficits while protecting Corporate tax breaks for companies raking in record profits and promising to decimate the social safety net is blatant cognitive dissonance.
Rich people blaming poor people and the unemployed for the financial crisis in this country while the financial sector who made them rich continues to play the same dangerous games they played to crash our economy is cognitive dissonance.
In every instance, the possessor of this malady will claim it’s okay to hold these conflicting beliefs because it serves the greater good. You probably consider these justifications raging hypocrisy. It’s that too.
Given that most of these justifications have a deeper negative impact on poor women than any other segment of our society, then yes, this cognitive dissonance has created a war on women.
There comes a point where cognitive dissonance spirals into a mental disorder. I don’t think one need ask why I’m voting to re-elect President Obama and voting to remove every single one of these “Social Conservatives” from office. It’s time for America to come back to the real world. Ladies, nothing says “Take your meds” like voting.
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific.