Finally-------the war for the women's vote is out in the open. And it is starting off with a bang!! With Rick Santorum bowing out of the presidential race, the Romney campaign has wasted no time starting to stake its claim to winning women to his side. It has been hard to sit on the sidelines watching the Democrats take the entire battlefield of assuming what the female vote wants while the Republican message was a deafening silence. It felt too much like the past 30 or so years when the Republicans ceded the entirety of women's issues to the Democrats in exchange for the pro-life evangelical vote. Blech!!! Many of us have been watching in dread while the Republicans have gotten pummeled for being anti-women, and the antics of Limbaugh, the inability of Santorum to stay on message and thus spill his guts every now and then about his views on contraception, and the Virginia legislature and their abortion/ultrasound bill haven't helped any.
But lo and behold, as soon as it looked like Romney had the nomination sewed up, the subject of women and what they want is everywhere!! And it's high time!!! I understand that the nomination needed to be won first, so I was hopeful that the Republicans weren't going to give up on winning women. So far, I haven't been disappointed. Female surrogates are everywhere you look taking on the notion that there is a "Republican War on Women." Talk of a female VP is rampant. Every other word out of Romney's mouth is about what he's going to do for women. And there is enormous pushback to the idea that feminism is only about reproductive issues.
So far the Republican appeal to women appears to be on economic issues. It is brilliant as far as I am concerned because it plays nicely into the idea that women not only care about their jobs and how much money they are making (DUH!!!), but also extends well into our idea that women need to have economic and power equality. And as soon as the Romney campaign started drilling that theme into the public consciousness, lo and behold, the Obama campaign started doing the same things. It is totally a win-win situation for us........
That is if the theme continues past election day. I am completely skeptical that it will be anything more than words of the moment for the Democrats however. Why? Because the past three years have shown that the Obama campaign and the Obama presidency have taken women for granted and have assumed that we will just fall in line with their scare tactics. And although it has worked for them to some degree, the days of taking women for granted with the abortion themes are over. OVAH as my friend K likes to put it.
I will admit that I am still seething after the sexist antics of the 2008 campaign. I am actually surprised that I still have the level of animus that I do, but I'm not alone. Far from it. 3.4 million Hillary voters left the Democratic party in 2008, and I'm guessing that there is at least an equal number that didn't leave the party, but are still pretty unhappy about how it all went down. Probably even more than that.
Anyways, what I'm trying to say is that although I'm still pissed off, the reality is that Obama hasn't done for women what needed to be done and what could and should have been done for someone who thinks he's a feminist. His White House pays women less than the men. His administration didn't make any huge effort to even up the numbers of women in charge of things such as cabinet chairs. He didn't have a woman VP. He did make a couple of advances such as appointing two women to the Supreme Court, and I won't take that achievement away from him. But from where he sits as President of the United States, he could have been much more proactive and creative and set up a REAL example of what a workplace would look like if women and men shared power and economic equality. He should have had a blueprint to demonstrate what a woman friendly administration would look like rather than pay lip service to the world he wants for his daughters. And he should return the dirty money of Bill Maher.
Well people, he didn't do anything more than what he did because he didn't have to. And he didn't have to because we didn't demand he do it!!! It is a democracy we live in and if you don't demand, you don't get. Period. If you wait for others to do what you should be doing for yourself, it's well, understandable. We women have been dependent on the munificence of men for time immemorial. It is a knee jerk reaction to wait for someone to do it for you. As much as I hate framing it this way, it is true-----it is a result of the patriarchy. We smarty pants women are still subjected to subliminal behavior patterns as a result of this patriarchy that is as old as time.
But we have a window of opportunity right now. My friend AnnaBelle pointed out in her excellent article recently that we women who left the Democratic Party not only left in sufficient numbers to matter, but our rhetoric over these past few years has been sufficient in aiding an entirely new view of feminism and women's rights to be born. The ripple effect of our protest has weakened old arguments and given birth to new ideas and new points of view of what feminism is, what women want, and where we go to break those glass ceilings and finish the job begun in the Second Wave. Great credit also goes to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin (and to John McCain) who created a focal point for this energy and the wake up call many of us heard. We have been busy over the past 4 years awakening America and now we find ourselves at a crucial moment indeed.
Our female votes matter more than ever before. We are being fought over, all of us, like the belles of the ball, the queens of the prom. It is an opportunity like none other to make it loud and clear what we want. So what it is we want?
My list is always the same:
1) a female VP
2) a White House that appoints an equal number of women to all of the important jobs
It's a simple list but a shopping list that if met will have an unbelievable ripple effect in our culture. We also want the politicians to fight for our votes not with old worn out siren calls to corral us. You know, the old reproductive issue scare tactics. Blech again!! We want new fresh ideas and we want our women candidates and surrogates to be treated respectfully and not have all of those sexist rotten eggs thrown at them. The only way we will get there is to keep speaking up and never never never quit until the job is done.
First off, you can go to the Women For Romney facebook page and start talking up the idea of a woman VP. There are so many spectacular women on the Republican side who could fill the bill. We keep hearing that Condi Rice, Nikki Haley, Susana Martinez, Cathy McMorris Rodgers are at the top of the list. We all need to keep saying that that is what we want. Go to WomanVP2012 on facebook and read all about these women and the constant activity to get one of them nominated. Be sure to "like" WomanVP2012 and Women for Romney and convince 5 people to do the same. Convince them to get five each of their friends to "like" it. We need to show some strength in this regard.
There are 5 months until the Republican and Democratic Conventions. That is more than enough time to forcefully make our wishes known. Don't get discouraged by the Democratic spin and the sexist spin. And don't get depressed if it seems we are hitting up against brick walls. We have made alot of progress in these past 4 years. We have exposed the sexism of the Democrats (we always knew about the Republicans), we have changed the debate from reproductive rights to economic and power parity, and both parties are rewriting their game books to woo us. Let's play hard to get. Let's hang in there until we get what we want. What can happen in 2012 will make a female president more possible ASAP. We will keep the pressure on!!!!