Writing as a woman, writing as a young woman, writing as a young feministy type, civically-engaged woman, I have to say: I’m really freaking tired of hearing about “women’s issues” in this year’s political debates. To be more accurate, I’m sick of hearing Republicans misrepresent, patronize or vilify women’s issues like women don’t make up half of the country.
And from that shameful display of pandering we saw last week out of Tampa, I think the Republicans have a valuable lesson to learn from this week’s DNC especially on how to talk to women.
Lesson Number One: Stop calling things like rape, the pill, and equal pay “women’s issues.” When the issues affect half of your population, they stop being a “fringe” issue and they become just an issue. Despite what Governor Niki Haley wants you to believe, we do care about these things and for women they are often HUGE economic issues as well. The US Department of Agriculture puts the average cost of raising a child from birth to 18 at about $230,000. That is not including the cost of wages lost while on maternity leave. Having the right to choose what goes in and what stay out of our uteruses is a very big economic issue.
Lesson Two: Please stop telling us how special we are, how much harder we work than men, how we are the REAL backbone of America. We’re not. We’re 50% of the backbone and we are fully aware of this. We don’t want to be special. We want to be equal. We don’t need your wife telling us how much she is just like us. What we want are women talking to us directly, not as a spokesperson for the entire female population but as female leaders. The DNC is packed with awesome women speakers from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to Equal Pay Warrior Lilly Ledbetter. These women are not speaking not about women’s issues but about issues. They are speaking as equals not as tokens.
Lesson Three: Don’t lie. It really is a simple one but, as Senator Ryan made evident , a very challenging task for Republicans. When you lie to us not only do we not trust you but we also question your competency. Did you really think Siri wouldn’t debunk your lie 10 minutes after your infomercial of a speech?
After Repulicans have mastered these three tips, the next step is to actually talk about the details of their plans. As far as I can tell the Romney plan is to go back to 2004 and wash and repeat. I’m not sure how cutting taxes on the wealthy and therefore cutting revenue will decrease the deficit but I would like to see your numbers. Stop getting your wife to bake me cookies and tell me what your plan is.
The hard fact is women don’t vote for politicians who just love us women so much. Women vote for politicians who trust them and speak to them as human beings not as a key demographic.