By Carla Charter
This essay is more of a public service notice to anyone involved in the political arena in this country. I need to clarify something with you. In my life I wear many hats. I am a mother, a wife, a special needs advocate , a writer, a person with a disability, and yes a woman but definitely NOT a lemming!
By referring to me, in political circles, as nothing more than ‘the woman’s vote’ you are doing exactly that, making me a lemming. The underlying message I receive, the minute that phrase is used or even implicated, is that the person using it sees me as less than an individual, less as a person. Instead they see somebody who is not an individual, with individual opinions. Think about it for a minute when was the last time anyone heard a political party trying to pander to the man’s vote?
Instead the minute I hear the phrase or even get the woman’s vote vibe, I have a flashback to the turn of the century. That these weak, helpless women, unable to think on their own, can be persuaded as a group to vote a certain way. The phrase ‘the woman’s vote’ to me screams sexism and degradation.
Are there woman’s issues I care about, you bet. Abortion rights, and access to birth control are important to me as well as to my sisters in womanhood. If you want to see why there is not one woman’s vote on these issues just mention your personal opinion on these topics on Facebook and watch the fireworks begin!
There are other issues that concern me too. Universal healthcare, the Middle East, Immigration and the need for a living wage. Basically any issues that would concern a man concern me. Male or female, we are all diverse human beings. There are no typical woman issues anymore than there are any typical men’s issues.
And it’s not just the issues. Why do political parties assume that I’ m going to vote for a person just because they are wearing a skirt and high heels. Again I have a mind and I use it. I am not going to vote for a woman because she is a woman anymore than I am going to vote for a man simply because he’s a man. Assuming otherwise tells me the person making that assumption is sexist, a person who does not respect our sex enough to think that we are capable of independent thought.
So if you want my vote for your party or your candidate the answer is simple. Treat me with respect. Treat me as the intelligent, independent thinking, discerning human being that I am and I will consider your candidate whether they are a man or a woman.
The minute you refer to me as part of the woman’s vote or wave a candidate in front of me and tout her first and foremost as a female candidate, my vote is already lost to you without even knowing where you stand on the issues because I know where you stand on the most important issue. The woman’s vote.