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Monday, June 28, 2004

The women's vote shouldn't be taken for granted

Anna Quindlen writes on the women's vote and the effect of good girl stereotyping. She makes a good point, that the relationship between women and the Democratic party has drifted into habit and therefore is threatening to fall apart. Women don't get fired up about political issues that are important. Women don't vote as much as they should. But the Democrats need to quit expecting the women's vote out of gratitude and start working hard for it.
Well, it's impossible to get women as a group fired up out of their own energy. "Women" is a concept. Actual women are individuals, not parts of a machine or an institution. Speak to concerns many of them have and you will get more on your side. So, in my opinion, we can't just chastise "women" for not being involved. (Anyway, the ones you chastise are the ones who read the magazines, etc. and are already involved.) The Democratic party is going to have to court women and remind them of exactly why the Dems are the party for them.

They're counting on the gratitude factor. Democrats better than Republicans, 14 female senators better than none, America better than Afghanistan.

Alarmingly, the Democrats don't seem to get what it really means that more men are Republicans and more women are Democrats and how that makes their standing with women precarious. It doesn't take a statiscian to look at that fact and realize that there must be cross-pollinating between Republican men and Democratic women going on, and even though we live in more feminist times, the Dems can't guarantee that female votes won't cross over simply because they are giving into spousal pressure. I may be over-worrying it, but I've seen elsewhere that married women tend to vote more conservatively than single women. Not only do the Democrats not speak to single women, but they don't seem to be doing any work whatsoever to keep those women's loyalities when they marry and are pressured to become more conservative.
I know that sounds horribly unfeminist on one level, but I don't think it is. It's a fact that these pressures exist and I think they can be fought back by speaking directly to women about things of importance to them. With the reassurance that the Democrats really are fighting the good fight on equal wages, reproductive rights, and family issues, women have substantial reasons to vote Democratic instead of just doing so because they always have. "Always have" is a reason that falls away quickly when family pressures come into play.
It's been said before, but it's worth saying again, that the best measure of how good a society is doing is how well the women are doing. If Democrats approach female voters with that attitude, then they can expect a healthy response.

Via Feministing.

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"Women don't vote as much as they should."

Maybe not, but they vote more than men do. Check out Rutgers' Center for American Women and Politics (http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/) for some stats...

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