Come On Gals
By Regina Garson
It's that time again. We are down to the wire. Will I go for that hunk in the tight pants or the cuddly, cushy -- ah shucks -- don't you love to squeeze a teddy bear?
Talk about men.
Those two make you want to drool. Is it going to be bachelor number 1, bachelor number 2 or how about a number 3? Please... this is not the dating game.
Why are these guys courting us, wooing us and plying us with one liners?
It boils down to one thing. If either candidate can secure the women's vote, they got it and they know it. But the man we take home to the White House is not a one night stand, and it's insulting that both major candidates have treated female voters as if the only thing they had to do was charm us and woo us until they got that, well -- that vote.
It was a long time coming, but we got the clout. For the first time in US history women elected a president when they put William Jefferson Clinton in office. Despite a scandal ridden presidency he came through on the issues that were important to us.
Those guys know we can do it again. According to Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority and author of How And Why Women Will Elect The Next President, in the 1996 election 53% of the registered voters were women. 47% were men. There is a gender gap in both voting patterns and the issues we feel are important. Those areas of difference between male and female voters include violence, health and human services, and women's rights.
This campaign however, has been a campaign not of the issues but of who is the better date. No we haven't sunk that low, or have we?
Gore's group actually did a poll on just that way back in the spring. They had the gall to go out and ask women which US presidential candidate would be a better date, Gore or Bush? They got answers too. Consensus had it -- Gore. He was the kind of guy who would listen to a woman. Bush, he'd drive up in a convertible, honk his horn and spend the night chewing gum and talking about himself. Please... I have my own opinions of which one would be the most fun, but we are talking about the White House here. Is this really what concerns women voters?
This country has barely, recovered from the scandals of the Clinton administration. As if a trend were started, the campaign focus is to get women, who are obviously the majority of the voters, and obviously are not going to think with their brains, to decide which of these men would be the better date. And what in the world did all that flap about kissing have to do with their qualifications to run this country.
Now I know a campaign is a campaign and a lot of it is spin and image, and get all the attention you can from that camera. But, I want a president. Not smooth words, not cutesy camera flirtations, and not seductive poses in tight pants. I want somebody I can look up to, somebody I can respect, somebody I can depend on to do and stand for right, and I want to know what they are going to do for this country.
Women's Village Contributing Editor Deborah Prussel has her own take on Election 2000, like somewhere out in la-la land
Politics is however politics and we all know they have to, or maybe they just go along and play that game. I'm not the expert on that one.
Even to characterize the issues that are important to women is tough. The one issue that is considered more of a woman's health issue than any other is also one of the most divisive issues this country has ever known. That issue is abortion -- not just abortion, but a woman's right to choose one or not. For some it involves the most personal and private of decisions, and for others the most profound of religious beliefs. The availability, or lack thereof has far reaching consequences on the lives and economic viability of women at all socioeconomic levels. Should it be government regulated or not? Which candidate represents your interests on the issue? IMDiversity Contributing Editor Jennifer G. Hicks looks at the issue of abortion.
On Domestic Violence
From the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, a non-partisan, nonprofit group, a 501c3 that doesn't officially endorse either candidate: we learn The Family Violence Prevention Fund and the Million Mom March are studying the overlap of domestic violence and gun violence. Guns increase the severity and lethality of domestic violence. The combination of guns and domestic violence is a deadly threat to the health and safety of women and their families. A gun is the most common weapon used in domestic homicide. Two thirds of all women murdered in the United States by a current or former husband or boyfriend were killed by gunfire according to a 1998 US Department of Justice study.
For information on where your elected officials stand on the issues of sexual assault and domestic violence against both women and children, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. NCADV provides charts of all Representatives and Senators up for re-election and where they stand on these issues.
Work & Family
Working women with children have another set of issues. At every level from blue collar to professional, the availability of good reliable child care has a profound affect on a woman's ability to earn a living. With the nuclear family unit and single parent head of household the norm for today's working women, the childcare issue has become an even more important issue as families struggle to make ends meet without the support of extended family networks. IMDiversity asked Bush and Gore if they had a plan to help with childcare and other issues facing working mothers. Nadar answered as well.
The Party Line
What issues are important to Women's Village readers?
Prussel hit the street to find out. She talked to a card-carrying Republican, a lifelong Democrat, and a registered member of the Green Party. She asked them all the same three questions. 1. What issues do you feel are most important to women in this election? 2. What drew you to your party's issues? And 3. What convinced you to support your parties' presidential candidate?
To me one of the most important initiatives facing women on earth today neither major candidate mentioned in their response to our questions. That is CEDAW -- The Convention For The Elimination Of Discrimination Against Women.
Nadar answered -- sort of. Actually he used the opportunity to talk about how he agreed with many of the things that NOW, the National Organization For Women, is doing. They even have a Candidate Endorsement List if you would like to see who in this election is known to support women's issues. It's worth a look. I agree with a lot of what NOW does too. But, what does any of this have to do with CEDAW?
CEDAW is a UN Convention, the US was instrumental in its drafting in 1979. We have not however signed it and it has sat for over 20 years. The US is the only industrialized democracy on earth which has not signed it. So what does it do for me as a voting American woman, maybe not a lot for me personally. CEDAW is about human rights and I am doing okay. Globally, there are a lot of women that could use some help. CEDAW is potentially the strongest tool on earth with which to leverage the right to vote and improve conditions for women every where. That includes impoverished minority women in third world countries, who have no economic clout, and no right to vote on the issues that could make a difference in their lives. Voting is a right we very much take for granted, that we only haphazardly exercise but that around the globe is not a given for way too many women.
Nadar never got around to mentioning it, but repeatedly took the opportunity to expound on the values and initiative of NOW. I'd like to see some original values and initiative from Nadar, or maybe he should lead a write-in supporting Ireland for president instead. The Democratic leadership has consistently supported CEDAW, but been thwarted by the Republicans in getting anywhere with it. They have repeatedly played games to keep its discussion off the floor. CEDAW is one of the most powerful potential tools to improve the lot of women on the face of the earth today. It sits clearly visible, close enough to touch, but still out of reach.
With that I ask, if you have it, as the polls open, be thankful for and exercise your right to vote. For many of us, it was gained through pain and a hard won fight of our ancestors. For others it is a right that was lost, or still awaited. For every one of us who does have that right, it is a right that should never be taken for granted.
Vote your conscious.
Vote your heart.
Vote for what you think is best for this country.
Just get out there and vote.