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4 Reasons Girls Don’t Care About Politics (And Why They Should)

4 Reasons Girls Don’t Care About Politics (And Why They Should)

The day before the election, I met with a group of girls after school. We meet every Monday to discuss issues that are important to them, but we are not an overtly political group, even though women’s rights is a political issue. However, since it was the day before the election, I figured it would be a good time to talk politics with them. None of them are old enough to vote, but they are all definitely old enough to care about their rights as citizens, so I thought it was a great idea to introduce them to politics.

When I told them what we would be discussing throughout the meeting, there were groans. A few girls even brought out their homework to work on while I was talking. I had a whole speech prepared, but seeing and hearing their lack of enthusiasm made me take another direction. I grabbed a whiteboard marker and asked them why they were so uninterested in politics. As they spoke, I started writing their reasons on the board.

After writing down their concerns, this is what emerged:

1. They didn’t want to start an argument by being too political.

I imagine this comes about by seeing many of the adults in their lives argue with each other about who should be President, or by seeing the sheer volume of angry comments their friends and family receive on Facebook when they start a political thread. This is a valid reason for them to be weary of politics; few things get people riled up like a discussion about an election.

However, my question for them was why they were worried about starting an argument. Were they concerned people would hate them? Were they worried they would lose friends? Did they think politics weren’t worth arguing over? As it turns out, it was all of the above, but mostly that they would lose friends over political arguments. When I asked them if politics was the only thing they were worried about starting arguments over, they said they don’t like arguing in general.

To this, I responded that they worried so much about making waves because society expects women not to. If women don’t make waves, and if women don’t vote, who will? When they started to realize that their lack of interest and fear of confrontation would ensure that other people would be making decisions for them down the line, they started to realize the importance of politics in their lives.

2. They are too young to vote.

I could only agree to this, since none of the girls were yet 18. However, they will be old enough to vote in the next election, and if they don’t start paying attention now, how will they keep up with what is happening in the world and what needs to change four years from now? Furthermore, they are clearly interested in women’s rights and women’s issues since they are attending our weekly meetings. They need to use their vote and, more importantly, their voice to make a difference in the world. They might not have a vote, but they do have a voice, and they can share their opinions with those around them and, hopefully, open some minds to new ways of thinking.

3. They are too busy to pay attention.

Like them, I have often felt too busy to pay attention to all of the election coverage out there. Setting aside a chunk of time to watch the debates when I have papers to grade and lessons to plan frankly seemed like an unwelcome intrusion. More than that, posting my opinions to my social networks and receiving angry comments back didn’t seem like the best way to spend my time. (Maybe I, too, was a little afraid of starting an argument.)

However, nothing should be more important to them than the state of our nation. Everything they do, especially in school, is tied to politics. The courses they are required to take, the standardized tests they worry about doing well on, the lunch they eat in the cafeteria – all politics. They might be busy, but it isn’t difficult to stay informed. Just read a few articles a week, or turn on the news for 30 minutes a day. The price they pay for not being informed is far greater than setting aside the homework for a little while.

4. Politics are boring, negative, and full of deception and lies.

Again, I found myself only able to agree with them on this count. I have become frustrated and overwhelmed with the barrage of negative attacks on the television and radio daily. It’s difficult to see anything positive about politics when the campaigns take such a negative turn. I told them that I had often thought about running for office if only just to run a positive campaign, only to realize that I, too, would be attacked by someone else and I didn’t need that kind of negativity in my life. It is unfortunate that politics has gotten such a bad reputation, especially among young people. There is hope, though. One of my girls mentioned that she would love to run for office and make a real change in the way people see politicians. I hope she does.

The girls left our meeting energized and excited for the election where they were once bored and frustrated. They might not be able to vote yet, but hopefully this generated a real interest in issues that are important to them, and will remain so for the rest of their lives. I know I’ll see all of them at the polls for the next election, and I hope I’ll see some of their names on the ballot someday.

 

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Photo Credit: League of Women Voters of California

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61 comments

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5:43AM PST on Nov 17, 2012

I didn't become politically active until I was 28, and I had full historical awareness in the form of a sociocultural anthropology degree.

Frans, tell that to Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth I, or the Cherokee matriarchs.

4:34AM PST on Nov 14, 2012

Interesting - but I'd have like to hear what boys the same age said since, if one looks at the statistics these young women are far more likely to bother to vote in the future than their male counterparts - even though they are less likely to take part in the mainstream political process

11:40PM PST on Nov 13, 2012

my wife says there will never be war if women were in charge of nations..... I agree

9:13AM PST on Nov 13, 2012

As a teacher, I found far too many of my students, girls and boys, utterly disinterested in politics. Among those who were interested, I saw no particular gender difference.

8:05AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

Thanks Ashley for sharing this very interesting article. Maybe with more and more women going into the political arena they may feel differently.

8:45AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

People often just go through phases in their lives where some things just don't matter as much when they are young as when they are older. We are not all the same.

7:52AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

Politics are controversial that's why people often debate about it. This article not only applies to women but to men as well.

1:59PM PST on Nov 8, 2012

Politics is a dirty game, but it influences your life so you should care.

10:50AM PST on Nov 8, 2012

Some of the commenters here seemed to have missed the point of the arguement. The author is stating the reasons for why these particular girls do not care about politics. If we do not understand the reasons why some (I would argue a considerable amount) of population are not interested in politics, we cannot rememdy the situation. From my personal experience, I would have to say that these reasons could apply to other people who are apolitical. Obviously there are individuals who care about politics (or else they would not be members of or frequent a website such as care2).We must realize that there is a conception of the massess as apolitical/apathetic. Even if this is not true, this belief was not created in a vacuum and does contain a grain of truth. Individuals who are political cannot merely be contented with this fact, we must understand why other people are not.

4:46AM PST on Nov 8, 2012

What is more important - put on their make-up???

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