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Hey Lady, Vote Here Often?

Hey Lady, Vote Here Often?

The debates are over, early voting has begun, and the election season is drawing to a close.

I think I speak for all Americans when I say, “It’s about damn time.”

Someday when we look back at Election 2012, a few phrases will stand out: Legitimate rape, binders full of women, sluts getting paid to have sex, and “shutting that whole thing down.” Yes, it’s been quite a year for women in politics. (No, I don’t mean female politicians, who still make up only 16.8 percent of Congress.) I mean us regular ladies, who are now firmly in the crosshairs of every candidate for public office. They want our sweet, sweet votes.

Why now? It could be that there’s a general increased awareness of women’s issues around the globe, from sex trafficking to child marriage to domestic abuse. It could be that Republicans’ compact with religious fundamentalists has reached the point where the party is espousing a return to 1950s social mores.

Or it could be that, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, voter turnout among women was a whopping 5 percent higher than among men. In fact, women have been reliably outvoting men since the 1960s.

In light of that fact, it’s easier to see why vaginas (and the bodies and brains that surround them) are on every politician’s mind. Most of the discourse around women has centered around reproductive rights, with one party almost unilaterally advocating a restriction across the board, from abortion to contraceptives to breast cancer screenings. It has not escaped women’s notice that none of the writers of the proposed vagina-centric laws actually have vaginas of their own. “Regardless of where you fall on the issue, there are four men talking about legislating our bodies,” says Karine Jean-Pierre, a partner in K + K Enterprises (a socially conscious political consulting firm) and the former National Battleground States Deputy Director for President Obama. “D.C. is a male-dominated town, and your vote is how you insert your importance as a woman in their minds.”

Of course, in politics, women are reduced to only a few basic archetypes. “Political campaigns are driven by polls and tend to, for better or worse, speak to the electorate that is going to most influence whether or not they are elected,” Jean-Pierre says.  That means that for electoral purposes, all women are moms. Candidates love moms; it’s just about the only thing they can agree on. Not all women actually are moms, of course, but about 80 percent are (according to the National Organization of Women), and many of those that aren’t already moms hope to be one someday, so mom-centered rhetoric rules. Single moms, stay-at-home moms, grizzly moms, tiger moms. Moms are great. What, you single, childless female, you got a problem with momming?

If it feels as if no candidate is speaking to a young, upwardly mobile and/or childless demographic, it’s true. The unfortunate truth, despite what the deluge of political posts on your Facebook wall would have you believe, is that historically, young people do not vote in very high numbers. For most elections, about half of eligible young voters show up. “Voting participation increases with age,” Jean-Pierre says, “So politicians naturally cater their messaging to aging demographics.” Hence the national obsession with Medicare instead of college loan relief. Young people are more likely to feel jaded and cynical about politicians in general, leading to a ‘What’s the point?’ attitude. They’re also less likely to be able to see and understand the direct effects of voting on policy.

The poor experience a similar ennui and dissatisfaction that keeps them away from the polls. “People on the lower end of the income spectrum tend to feel more disenfranchised, which leads to non-participation,” Jean-Pierre says. After all, neither the young nor the poor have lobbying groups like the AARP or the American Bankers Association on Capitol Hill pressing for their interests.

While the newfound fascination with ladyparts is a welcome change from the dudebro conversations of most election cycles, it still doesn’t address what really matters to most women.  “Homes where the woman is the single breadwinner and parent have been hit extraordinarily hard and disproportionately,” Jean-Pierre says. “Women already earned less and had to compete more for jobs.” President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, and the Affordable Care Act went farther than any previous legislation to make healthcare for women and children an affordable reality, but a conversation about how economic policy could bolster women’s participation in the workforce would be a more welcome change. “Women are as affected by the economy as men are, if not more,” she says. “It’s important to know how the candidates are pushing the ball forward in this regard.”

And you? Single or married, mommied or child-free, Republican or Democrat, you and your magic uterus can walk down to your polling place and pull a lever on November 6th. As Jean-Pierre says, “The best way to make them pay attention to you is to vote.”

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30 comments

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7:35PM PST on Nov 7, 2012

President Obama whoot whoot : )

7:33PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

I truly hope that all women vote to end the fear the Tea people and Republicans have spread like a fungus in America.

No one should have the right to tell me or any woman what we can or can't do with our bodies. No one should dehumanize a woman, or a man for that matter, who makes a choice no matter what it is. "Legitimate rape?"" Women are like farm animals and should carry dead fetuses to term?"

I'd say they are animals but that would be disservice to the real creatures.

7:32AM PST on Nov 6, 2012

Richard B: Your statements regarding UNFPA are false. Sarah Craven, a spokeswoman for the UNFPA, said the organization believes China’s one-child policy is “wrong,” and that, among other things, it promotes a huge gender disparity. The UNFPA, she said, categorically “does not support the one-child policy.”
http://www.factcheck.org/2011/12/attacks-against-gingrich-how-accurate/

5:41AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

Article is not very balanced. Women have been disproportionately hurt by the poor economy. I suspect many women are more concerned about getting the economy fixed and the long-term future of their children (who are being saddled with 16 trillion debt). Note that, in recent weeks, Pres. Obama squandered his huge polling lead he had on women voters. The distracting, lackluster “war on women” campaign strategy is embarrassing to many that portrays women as helpless unless someone else is forced to pay for their $9 monthly pack of birth control. I’m all for cancer screenings and prevention, but Planned Parenthood (even if not defunded) does not provide the most comprehensive care here (they don’t directly provide mammograms, they instead do 330,000 annual US abortions). Pres. Obama also taxpayer funds the UNFPA, which champions China’s one-child policy, which brutalizes women with forced abortions and sex-selective abortions targeting baby girls -- the real “war on women.” http://www.womenspeakforthemselves.com/

1:26AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

thank you

1:26AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you"

You cannot currently send a star to Marie because you have done so within the last week.

1:12AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

As far as I'm concerned, if you don't vote then you can't complain!

9:31PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

Glenn, remember that, at least, you are not alone in not understanding where Romney stands on issues. Even Romney doesn't know where he stands on issues, or if he does, he's not telling anyone, and what does come out of his mouth changes from day to day and situation to situation depending on his audience. It's all very carefully "orchestrated" so what he says can be "innocently " changed if he's called on the carpet for what he says.

In my own State (Washington), we have many offices up for grabs, including Governor and Attorney General, and it's amazing the depths that the G.O.P. is stooping to with their negativity. The G.O.P. candidate for Attorney General is claiming the Democratic candidate defended and supported a serial killer (convicted cop killer and MULTIPLE times). No, as a law student decades ago, he wrote a paper defending the man's right to a decent trial and he's against the death penalty. HE, on the other hand, has taken several vacations on the taxpayer's dime and didn't show up for work (as a County Councilman) dozens of times when crucial voting was being done.

9:16PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

As A Canadian, With Obama as President, at least I know how things are going between our countries..generally pretty good..with a few minor glitches..easily handled by both countries. I am not sure what will happen to U.S./Canada relations if the super-rich Romney gets elected..as is mentioned here already..we know his stand on rape pregnancies, and where women "belong"...also, he is a Mormon, and I know they advocate Large families..(In todays overpopulated world?)..but I have NO idea at all what his ACTUAL Platform is..how will he create jobs, how does he actually plan to take care of the deficit, what about the elderly and thier pensions, and the working poor?...could I please have that explained to me??..Also, I can guarantee that if Romney gets elected, you know that line from some historical document about seperation of church and politics?...hahahaha...wanna bet?!?!?!?!..Either way, If it was up to me...given the choices I can see, it would be Obama again...just an outsiders' opinion, for whatever it might be worth.

8:22PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

Well, Ron B., all I can say is "I HOPE NOT" about the "handing over the reign of power" and if that happens, I wish I could pack up and move to Canada or anywhere else but here. So FREAKING WHAT if Obama has not fulfilled every one of his 2008 campaign promises? I saw some "on the fence/undecided" voters interviewed last night on TV (they were in Ohio, I think) and one lady (Hispanic, it seems) said she was an Obama supporter "before" but now isn't sure because she's disappointed that he hasn't done everything he said he would do! Good GRIEF, lady, get a grip............NO President can enact legislation that can't get out of Congress, and guess what? Congress is controlled now by the G.O.P. and before it was a majority in the House, they managed to keep every single thing from making it thru committee or they filibustered for days.

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