Overheard on CNN.com: Santorum's views stir debate about women's roles
Readers are debating the views of Sen. Rick Santorum as the GOP presidential race presses on.
February 14th, 2012
08:19 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Santorum's views stir debate about women's roles

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Writer Stephanie Coontz posits that presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum's views about women come straight from the ultra-olden days in an opinion article on CNN.com on Tuesday. Her story got thousands of comments.

Santorum's stone-age view of women

The most-liked comment was about women's rights and ambitions, which many of our readers said could be in danger under a conservative president.

abcdef54321: "Conservative women make me sorry that American liberals worked so hard for so long to give women the vote, to allow them to own property, to allow them to wear pants, to give them equal pay, to protect them from sexual harassment at work, to give them access to abortions, to allow them to use birth control, to encourage them to seek advanced education, and to allow them to serve in the military. Conservative women vote every November for men who would pay them less than men, outlaw abortion, outlaw birth control, perhaps outlaw divorce, repeal child nutrition programs, repeal child health programs, repeal laws protecting them from sexual harassment, make it harder for them to get a college degree, and close public schools. Go figure."

But then, here's what a reader identifying as one of those conservative women had to say:

not1not99: "Well, I was an American liberal and I am now an American conservative. I am college-educated, I have a good job, I've never been on welfare and my husband loves me as Christ loves the church. I am not oppressed, beaten, ignorant, or chained to the kitchen (actually I love to cook!). I have my own ideas, thoughts, and opinions that are not my husband's but conclusions based on facts that I research on my own. The people I associate with are other college-educated moms who have made the choice to stay home, raise and educate their children instead of leaving that responsibility in someone else's hands (public school system, day care). They respect my choices, I respect their choices. However, in retrospect I would have rather have stayed home, and raised and educated my children.

"Our choice is our choice. Not out of ignorance or some distorted or perverse sense of 'obedience to our husbands.' Husbands that choose to dominate their wives come from all sorts of different backgrounds, conservative and liberal. So stop being childish, pointing fingers and playing silly stereotyping games."

Several commenters talked about the many difficult challenges involved in staying home with the kids.

JustJen: "If you actually tried staying at home you would find it is the most brutally exhausting job on Earth to be home taking care of young children 24/7 with no break ever. There is no quiet time in the car on the way to work. No water cooler breaks. No civilized lunches eating in peace or chatting with co-workers. I'm all for women having choices, and I personally chose the much much harder job of staying home rather than returning to my infinitely more gratifying job as an engineer. Why did I pick the least gratifying, most exhausting route? That's simple. It's better for my kids. My career can wait. Kids are young for a short time. I think we all have a right to plan our families as we wish, but I'm sure sick of the denigration of moms who are staying home with their children. I could go on but I have to get back to the kids now."

BelgianWoman: "I did exactly the same: gave up a nice career to stay home and take care of my three kids myself. I'm happy with it and it doesn't feel like a 'sacrifice.' If it did, I would immediately go back to work. I would never have considered an abortion. So maybe Santorum would think of me as a 'good' woman. But I utterly detest Santorum's views. I hope this guy never becomes president of the U.S.! Although I would like to see how he handles meetings with [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel (a woman!) and our own PM (a gay man!)."

There were a lot of other people who talked about women's achievements and challenges. Readers also debated Santorum's electability in some other popular exchanges.

BernardWebb: "Santorum is way too extreme for 90% of the country to stomach. I hope they nominate him! Obama would win in 45 states."

me138: "Santorum and Obama need to go."

msacks: "Oh wow, Bernard, you are so out of touch with what percent of the country couldn't stomach him and his extreme viewpoints. Somewhere between 30-40% of America would think Santorum's social views are the same as theirs, or at least perfectly reasonable. He's in the minority, but not by a 90/10 margin by a longshot."

One thread connecting many of the discussions was a question of who wants to control whom. There were several readers who tried to draw parallels between conservatives' faith in America and religious beliefs in other countries.

drp146: "Little Ricky Santorum: Wants to make his religious beliefs into law, just like the Taliban. Give me freedom from religion."

kevin456: "It's the other way around. Leftists are trying to impose their values on others."

Finally, in a somewhat related note, reader stubby1 asked in a thread if we had talked about contraception issues, including the use of birth control for health reasons. We indeed had covered that angle - and several others - in a post a few days ago, and we welcome your further thoughts.

What do you think about Santorum and women's issues? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. mdrnplgrm

    I am not Catholic but I identify with Senator Santorum on many issues. His problem is his poor word choice. He should be pointing out things like this – why did the administration recently decide to mandate public funding of bedroom activities (birth control)? Lots of people were using it freely before the mandate so there really was no problem. With this decision liberals can no longer argue to keep the government out of the bedroom – they drug it in with this mandate. Of course this was't the first time.

    February 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boris

      Why do you conservatives like to twist the facts? Who said that you or your wife HAVE TO use birth control? It's a choice and the mandate is for the employers/insurance companies to provide to those that need it. Did you know that birth control is prescribed to women who have menstrual problems? I know several women who use birth control not so they can "fool around", but because birth control helps them alleviate their health problems. You just want to believe what the "opinion based" FoxNews has to say on the subject.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • klur

      How is having access to birth control have anything to do with your choices "in the bedroom"?!!!! This has been the problem in the last few years. Right wing "journalists" tell half truths and misconstrue the facts until people actually believe that Obama is trying to tell us what we do in our own bedrooms. Badly needed health care reform gets turned into "death panels" by a few very well though out manipulative words and the public- who doesn't care to think for themselves- believes it.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • hemnebob

      santorum isn't choosing the wrong wording, he is getting his ignorant message out quite clearly which only builds our president's opportunity for another 4 years. what i cannot understand is that his message of no contraception is only to win voters, nothing more...he can't address the issues because obviously he has no answers. if there were a gop that was ready to actually run for president then they'd have answers and since your frightened party has no answers they resort to religious crap that HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR JOBS, OUR ECONOMY OR PROSPERITY. so my advice to you? just live in your church and someday you might, just might realize that your way isn't the only way...it is just one of several offered by many different denominations of christianity.
      in my world?
      only morons do that...

      February 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |

    Santorum needs to step into the 21st century and stop acting like he's the second coming of Christ. I don't a religious zealot in control of nukes or getting into my bedroom.

    February 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • lili

      Isn't it strange how the conservatives are so busy screaming about protecting unborn life and want to impose their religious views on everyone else...but when it comes to other countries, they have NO problem with wanting to bomb and kill, with obvious civilian casualties? That's JUSTIFIED killing, I guess, whereas a woman's personal choice is not?? I don't want a religious fanatic in the White House, either. The commandment says, Thou shalt not kill. So if you're a Christian, show me where it says in the commandments that some killing is justified. Is it justified when it suits your agenda? Well, then, give women the same choice. Maybe having not having a child suits their agenda. I can't stand the hypocrisy.

      February 21, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |

    Who is this religious nutball anyway? Loser from Pennsylvania (no beef with PA, great state)? This guy is running for president? This guy is a televangelist at the most. Go peddle some scientology books on early morning informercials and leave poitics to grown ups. Americans don't want a cult leader in the whitehouse controlling the nukes.

    February 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. saabing28

    My daughter is a college educated and talented young woman who is married to a wonderful man who is the family wage earner. She chooses to be a mother, stay in the home and raise the children instead of pursuing a career in the area of her expertise. She and I are very glad she has that choice. It's great to be able to have choices. Unlike conservative women, she supports the policy of providing choices to women about how to live their lives. She works toward expanding the efforts that have been made in the past to free women to make choices. Oh, and she is a devout Christian.

    February 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dott

    Why is it that MEN would keep women pregnant and barefooted if we don't stand up and speak out? Not all men of course but it seems that when ignorance is present there is usually a male telling a female what she should or should not do. I really don't think that this man, Santorium has a chance on being elected but who knows? Any woman who would vote for him should be pregnant and barefooted.

    February 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • hemnebob

      not only that but they say they are for smaller government but yet want to control women's right with their bodies.
      hmmm...sounds like more government into women's lives. yeah, yeah...there are a few women and one who is in the article above who says..."I am college-educated, I have a good job, I've never been on welfare and my husband loves me as Christ loves the church. I am not oppressed, beaten, ignorant, or chained to the kitchen (actually I love to cook!). I have my own ideas, thoughts, and opinions that are not my husband's but conclusions based on facts that I research on my own. " well, i just don't believe you. i am willing to bet you showed your husband what you wrote only to get his approval and his acceptance that his wife was doing just what she is supposed to do and nothing more. whatever makes your husband happy dear. say what you wish but i know a handful of you and guess what? you spend whatever time you have in making sure he knows you do what he asks of you or requests you to do. you are a daddy's girl which transcends to a daddy's girl with your husband. and you wouldn't dare go against either one of them...you behave yourself just like a little lady.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gung hoe

    .IM sorry for you leftist bloggers that wont vote for santorum anyways.This man is going to win mich and the general election

    February 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • drp146

      You may think Santorum will win the general election, but he won't. He only appeals to the far right evangelicals and it's not going to be enough to win the general election.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • hemnebob

      i wouldn't bet any money on that statement.
      most of us out here knows who is best for this country and it isn't anyone on your conservative ballot.
      most of us out here are laughing and watching your cat fights and how your party is tearing itself up.
      kind of like a bunch of hyenas ripping each other up and in the end, if there are any that can walk away at all?
      they will only limp thru an election and look ten times worse than they did four years ago...
      you negative nelly's are on the way out and most of you are way older than retirement age so dear old father time
      should be knocking at your door in less than four years...nobody will miss you either.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • geekgirl42

      I agree with you that Santorum will probably take MI, but he doesn't have a snowball's chance in H-E-double hockey sticks of winning the general election. The independent vote is key, and social conservatism repels independents. The split we're seeing in the Republican party is being caused by the beginning of a purging of social conservatism from the GOP platform. They will not win the White House again until they nominate a social moderate/fiscal conservative that independents can get behind.

      February 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    Sorry gung hoe, Obama will be the real winner of michigan. Hope our difference of opinion doesnt affect our friendship tho!

    February 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. What!?*&^

    I am a well educated, well travelled, Christian woman. I have a beautiful toddler who I have chosen to stay at home part-time with. He is in a beautiful day care centre with caring women who have taught him much during the other days of the week. I chose to give up my high paying job with a large company for a smaller part time job because I wanted to play a bigger role in my son's life before he grows up and doesn't need me any more. Just as the other women on this site have expressed, I have been lucky to have those choices to make. Choices are important and I'm not a fan of anyone who wants to take them away. I have seen and experienced much, and the one thing I have learned is that you cannot judge someone until you have walked in their shoes. How about instead of taking other's right to choose away, maybe spending more time educating people on thier options and the way forward? But let them make the choice.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • lili

      Thank you, Ms. Christian woman. You are a refreshing change from all the fanatical far right Christians who want to impose their religious views on others' options of choice.

      February 21, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. lili

    To msacks: Have you seen the recent poll that showed that 99% of American women have used birth control at some time in their lives, and 98% of Catholic women have? I have an aunt who is Catholic, and when the pill came out in the 1960's, she used it to prevent pregnancy, not to sleep around, and she confessed it every Friday. Say what you will about her, but I believe that is a pretty reasonable description of Catholic women who have used birth control. You may be right about 30-40% of the people agreeing with Santorum, but I happen to think that most women, regardless of religion, wouldn't vote in the privacy of the voting booth to have their choice taken away. For those of you who think Obama is trampling on religious freedom when it comes to contraception, give me a break! We need him to keep the religious extremists from imposing their religious views on the rest of us!

    February 21, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Taroya

    How nice that those lovely, educated and well-traveled xtian women had the CHOICE to stay home.

    Women with little or no education don't get those choices.

    The educated women had better start taking history classes, because they obviously skipped the part of history where women had no choice in anything at all. Not in who they married, or how many kids, or whether or not to work, or what kind of work they did.

    As for Santorum, may he twist in the wind forever.

    Currently, we have a crop of ijits in the House that scream and cry (literally!) that we must reduce spending, and we demand freedom from this that and the other; and out of the other side of their mouths they are screaming (and crying) that women shouldn't have the right to make a choice, and increase the defense budget that is already more than the ENTIRE WORLD COMBINED.

    In addition, there is a great deal more responsibility in children than just raising your own; we can no longer feed, clothe and shelter the ones that we have now today, AND YOU WANT MORE???

    Every day I hear on the radio about this fertility clinic and that one; no one want to spend any money on feeding, sheltering and clothing the children that we have (no budget, big deficit!), but how much are they willing to spend on the fertility clinic? How many ova and non-viable embryos are tossed? And NO ONE screams about that? OH, except to say that we can't use the throw-aways for stem cell research.

    On top of all of that (is this a pun?) if MEN could have a birth control pill like women, there would be no debate. Of COURSE insurance will cover it!

    Brilliant. F'ing brilliant.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SurRy

    Santorum believes in government that is small enough to fit in a woman's va$ina.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. dillon

    how about this: we elect officials who reduce the size, reach, and power of the federal government so that we don't need to worry about whether or not policies are "too much" of an infringement of rights?

    1. Trying to turn your religious values and beliefs into policy is called theocracy. Its what Iran has done since 1979. I don't care what you think "core American values" are, but you certainly can back the hell off if you think you're going to make your own into law and try to force me to follow them.


    March 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
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