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50 States of Blue

By Michael Layer

South Carolina is listed as the fourth least friendly state for women in America, according to an analysis by Wallethub. The personal finance and data analysis website identified 23 data points and evaluated the 50 states and D.C. to create the ranking.

The study comes at an important time in American history, as women are battling sexism and abuse through the #MeToo movement and running for public office in record numbers. Such movements still have a lot to fight for: despite making up roughly half the U.S. population (and the majority in 12 states), women still only earn 80 percent of what menmake, work two-thirds of all minimum wage jobs, and represent only 20 percent of Congress.

To determine the rankings, Wallethub considered two major themes. The first is Women’s Economic and Social Well-Being, which includes statistics like gender-specific median earnings adjusted for cost of living, unemployment rates, job security, unaffordability of doctor’s visits, women-owned businesses, and friendliness toward women’s equality. These elements were weighted 1.5 times higher than the items under the second theme, Women’s Health Care & Safety. This included data on the health of women and the quality of their healthcare providers, baby friendliness, and various data points on violence against women.

In the Wallethub study, South Carolina has the second highest female homicide rate in the country, behind four states tied for first. The Post and Courier won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2015 for its chilling investigation into South Carolina’s high rates of domestic violence, female homicide rates, and lax legislative policies.   

After ranking the states, the study compared “red” and “blue” states based on the 2016 election results. It found that the states whose electoral votes went to current President Donald Trump had an average rank of 33.32 out of 50, while states whose votes went to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had much higher average rank of 15.67.

South Carolina ranks 46th out of 50 states in terms of women’s representation in the legislature over time, according to Representation 2020, an advocacy group for women running for public office. The legislature has seen just a one percent increase of women since 1993. The state fares better on Representation 2020’s Gender Parity Index, ranking 24th and scoring 5 times higher than it did in 1993. 

Men have historically controlled political power in South Carolina. The Palmetto State elected its first female governor in 2011. In 2016, the state made history by electing Republican Sandy Senn and Democrat Mia McLeod, doubling the number of female state senators to a record four.

McLeod, who previously served in the state House of Representatives, told The State when she transitioned to the Senate that she wanted to focus on reducing rates of domestic violence and advocating for equal pay for women.

In her final months as a state Representative, she received national recognition for sponsoring legislation that would restrict men’s access to reproductive aids like Viagra. Her bill would introduce 24 waiting periods, require a notarized affidavit from at least one sexual partner confirming symptoms of erectile dysfunction, and attend sexual counseling to “pursue celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.”

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