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Female Voters, We Need You

4 years ago
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I admit it. I have a terrible voting record. My dad is Republican-leaning and I am a Democrat, so assuming we would cancel each other out, we have lazily ignored most elections. This year, with the midterms approaching, I finally understand that my vote will make a difference. I have been trying to keep up on all the debates involving women's issues and women candidates (harder than it sounds with three kids and a start-up business).

Recently I heard Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List, speak to a small group at the Fourth Annual San Francisco Women's Policy Summit. The title of her address, "Sarah Doesn't Speak for Me," referred to the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, but Schriock spoke mostly about the catastrophes that would befall California should Republican Carly Fiorina oust Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Hearing a woman whose job is to get women elected to office slamming another woman scared the pants off of me and sent me to my computer to learn more about the candidates.
I have read as many articles and blogs as possible (mostly on my iPhone, while nursing my youngest), and it is still hard to figure out how I am supposed to vote come November. Do I vote Democrat because I believe in the party's social policies, or do I vote for some of the women running on the Republican ticket because I believe we need more women in office and I'm frustrated that things aren't changing fast enough?

A recent CBS/New York Times poll suggests that women are less likely than men to vote this year, "giving more of the decision-making to men by default."

"I'm confused," an independent poll respondent who voted for President Obama told the Times. "I just don't know who I can count on to move us in the direction I'd like to see the country go. Frankly, the financial problems are beyond our understanding."

I understand her point. There are many other issues on the table, and getting information isn't easy. In my city, the San Francisco Chronicle made the bizarre decision not to endorse either Boxer or Fiorina. If the editors can't decide, how are we supposed to?

I did quite a bit of research recently on the attorney general race in California, an office Amy Everitt of NARAL Pro-Choice California called "the single most important office for women's privacy and reproductive health." I sent letters to both candidates with questions pertaining to women's issues and health care reform.

Though the Democrat Kamala Harris replied, Republican candidate Steve Cooley refused to answer my letter because, his spokesman told a reporter, I was "friends" with his Democratic opponent (untrue and no excuse not to answer a voter). I could find very little online or on Cooley's website about his position on issues I care about. Since he won't answer my questions, how am I supposed to know how to vote for this powerful office? (Although the Chronicle has backed Harris, it did not include information on women's issues in its endorsement.)

So here is what I did learn: Women are the majority of voters. Women are key to the success of the Democratic Party. Men are turning more and more to Republican candidates, and more people are turning to TV, specifically Fox News, for their information.

If women don't vote -- because we are too busy, too exhausted, too angry or too hopeless -- we will very likely lose many of the rights we have only gained in my lifetime. The fact that women are debating each other so fervently and from such high places shows me that we have certainly come a long way in at least some areas of women's rights. And yet there seem to be more and more women arguing against the rights our mothers and grandmothers fought so hard for.

The most heated debate is not over the policies of women politicians such as Sarah Palin or Fiorina, but over whether they should call themselves "feminists."

I read Jessica Valenti's op-ed "The Fake Feminism of Sarah Palin" and was dismayed by what she called Palin's attempt "to sell anti-women policies shrouded in pro-women rhetoric." Although Valenti lost me at "structural analysis of patriarchal norms," I was truly horrified by her characterization of Palin's claim to the feminist label. I ranted to whoever would listen (mostly my husband) that the rights our mothers worked for were being stolen by a woman who had been mayor of a town that charged assault victims for rape kits.

When EMILY's List kicked off its Sarah Doesn't Speak for Me campaign, I loved the name and the idea, but the lame video did nothing for me. Those silly costumes were not going to get me to take time out of my too-busy schedule to vote. What will get me to vote are the issues I and many women hold dear, such as preserving the environment, reforming education, upholding civil rights and taking responsibility for helping the disadvantaged in our country.

By not voting we essentially turn our backs on these issues. Let all women call themselves feminists if they want, but do not let them take away our rights this election. Don't let our communities suffer dire consequences because we feel "confused" and "exhausted." Get educated and get out and vote.

Christine Bronstein is founder of Abandofwives.com, a blog for women.

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23 Comments

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FRED

The right to vote is also a right not to vote. No one should feel they are being forced to vote. Some people are not smart enough to make a good choice, many people know very little about what is actually happening in government. Do you want people who vote soley on a name or someone who the media forces down your throat daily? Unless you have a good idea of what is truely happening out here you may vote for the wrong person and do harm to this nation and yourself.

October 02 2010 at 9:26 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
I LOVE YOU MOM!

My whole family were Democrats and when my daughter mentioned the guy running against Hillary & said she kind of liked him, I went to the library, checked out his books "dreams from my father" and "audacity of hope", read them, then googled michelle's college thesis and told everyone I know "DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS MAN". Three elderly relatives voted for him because he was the Democratic nominee; the rest of our huge Irish, Italian, Puerto Rican & Mexican family voted Republican, most for the first time. Note: many of our relatives have darker skin than obama. You have no choice in what color skin you're born with; you get to choose your actions and the people you hang around with. 33 days until the election. I just wish obama would be impeached so he can't suck at the tax payers expense for the rest of his life.

October 01 2010 at 12:23 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
seubert16

when reading this article, i was shocked knowing that many women choose not to vote due to confusion of both representatives. Womens rights are an important issure in America. they need to be voiced out and one of the best ways is to vote! With the "Sarah doesn't speak for me" campaign, it might be a good way to get more women to run for office. Overall, women need to vote and be heard!

September 30 2010 at 10:18 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
troofdetector5

Where is a similar story on PD encouraging people to vote republican?

September 30 2010 at 9:56 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
I LOVE YOU MOM!

My whole family were Democrats and when my daughter mentioned the guy running against Hillary & said she kind of liked him, I went to the library, checked out his books "dreams from my father" and "audacity of hope", read them, then googled michelle's college thesis and told everyone I know "DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS MAN". Three elderly relatives voted for him because he was the Democratic nominee; the rest of our huge Irish, Italian, Puerto Rican & Mexican family voted Republican, most for the first time. Note: many of our relatives have darker skin than obama. You have no choice in what color skin you're born with; you get to choose your actions and the people you hang around with. 33 days until the election. I just wish obama would be impeached so he can't suck at the tax payers expense for the rest of his life.

September 30 2010 at 8:53 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
cdnbirch

I too am a Dem voter who will write in votes this time around. I cannot vote for the Repubs but I cannot vote for the Dems either. What women want is a fair society. Fair to everyone in it, with health benefits, education, and good paying jobs for all. The Dems have turned their back on the working and middle class American. They support Nafta which has destroyed our manfacturing base, and hence our families. The Dems support more visa labor, labor that has replaced Americans in high paying jobs with cheap foreign labor, again destroying American families. The Dems have supported free trade which has resulted in outsoucing of our jobs, which destroys American families. The Dems have go along with tax the poor and middle class and left the rich get richer. There has never been such a major shift in wealth from the working and middle class to the rich as has occured over the last 20 years. It is destroying our society. The Dems are pro open borders, illegal immigration and amnesty, serving the interest of the rich in having cheap labor and in depressing American wages. So I cannot vote for the Dems. But the Repubs are even worse. So.. I will write in Mickey Mouse or something.

September 30 2010 at 8:53 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cdnbirch's comment
rnflowr

Hate to break the news, but life isn't fair. "Health benefits, education, and good paying jobs for all."? I'm all for that as a goal using VOLUNTARY association only, which means no stealing people's money (filthy rich or poor). You do realize that all the policies that you seem to promote are backed up by a gun, right? What happens if I choose not to pay for your happy program? Does the government just say 'oh well' and leave me alone? No. They steal my property from me, threaten me at gunpoint, put me in jail, etc. Is that EVER right? Do you really want to promote violence like that? Google: Voluntaryism

October 01 2010 at 11:31 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
wingsofcrystal

I haven't missed a vote in 30 years. I won't be voting for Obama again. Our home is going "Anti-Incumbent" from now on. And we vote mid-terms and Presidential. Keep voting them out until they get the idea. It has nothing to do with party affiliation. It's all about money, pure and simple. I voted as a loyal Democrat for 30 years and all I get from the politicians is "buck up". Buck this! (insert raspberry!)

September 30 2010 at 8:08 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
Mike and Julie

Go figure women think that were going to turn into the year 1716 if we dont vote for a dem. Please how utterly ridiculouse. As a woman I like my rights, they are just fine. But I do not like giving away my income or a percentage of my profit if I sell my home. Now my friend may not get insurance at Mc Donalds thanks to Obama. The colleges he visits he charms the innocent with a twist of the minds and they fall for it. He is not helping anyone by bank rupting our country. How can you help anyone when you cant afford it.

September 30 2010 at 7:54 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike and Julie's comment
rnflowr

Again, I'd like to point out that our rights are NOT given to us by the government. As individuals we are equal; man or women, regardless of any 'government'. The state actually just takes away our freedom and rights, by stealing our money, invading our privacy, and forcing our actions with regulation.

October 01 2010 at 11:26 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
wilmagrubblebutt

Yes,I'll be voting this fall also although the democrats might prefer I don't.A good book to pick up is "Who Stole Feminism" by Christina Hoff Summers.

September 30 2010 at 7:40 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
Mike and Julie

I am a woman voter and I disagree with the writer of this artical. She seems to be so concerned over the word feminist more so than the outragious way our president is messing up our country. I hope many women go vote and dont fall for ridiculous articals like this. I am amazed that anyone in their right mind still wants these people in office. And I am sick and tired of everyone crying poor me this country is great and all the poor me's are messing it up.

September 30 2010 at 7:39 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

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