As I’m sure you’ve (rightfully) assumed, I’m more or less surrounded with politically and socially active men and women. Some are liberal, some are conservative, some are somewhere in between; my facebook wall saw more candidates pictures on it this year from both the big two and third parties than ever before.
So, why didn’t I speak up? This was, arguably, one of the most important elections for women since suffrage was still on the table.
Here’s the thing: as much as I agreed with (and ultimately, supported) the Democrat’s positions regarding women’s health issues, I was more than a little bothered by the rhetoric that seemed to assume that 1. women’s health issues were my only concern and 2. as a woman I should automatically feel a certain way about women’s issues and so would be naturally inclined to vote Democrat. And, apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m overjoyed Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost their respective races, it’s great that Americans won’t put up with people with such misguided and horrifying opinions on rape (especially when those opinions can dictate law). And Elizabeth Warren winning her seat is totally awesome not just for women but for constitutional law scholars as well, she’s a brilliant scholar motivated to end corporate welfare. Wisconsin electing the first openly lesbian senator, Tammy Baldwin? Amazing, as was Washington, Maine, and Maryland voting to support gay marriage. I guess what I don’t understand is the mentality that, if you’re a woman, you should have automatically voted for President Obama.
Why? I mean, quite a large percentage of women are pro life. Further, both Gary Johnson and Dr.Jill Stein ran on pro-choice platforms (Dr. Stein’s being arguably more liberal in regards to abortion and birth control access than even the Democrats). And it’s not like Libertarian or Green are the only two third party options even. Yes, it’s true that in the present political climate no third party has a chance of taking a presidential election, but third parties do win Representative and Senate seats, and ultimately change tends to start at the grassroots and as third party voices become stronger, their ideas tend to be absorbed into the big two. My point is, you really weren’t limited to two choices, there was more than one pro choice/pro life and pro birth control access/anti birth control access if you didn’t care for Obama or Romney (as many didn’t).
I don’t like that both the right and the left seemed to bully voters into picking between Rep or Dem, especially women. It’s like over the span of a few months my uterus became a battleground state, with both sides saying they knew that their side would do what’s best for it. The fact of the matter is, no matter how pro choice, pro birth control I am, another woman holding the belief that a early term fetus is a person and that as a person has rights does not make her fundamentally anti-woman, nor does it make me a baby killer. The issue is a lot more complicated than that, it really is, and if you’re trying to simplify it down to a simple “it’s a woman’s body!” statement then I’m sorry but you’re missing the point. I guarantee that no pro life woman believes that she doesn’t own her own body, or that her body is worth less than, say, a man’s. And but for a very small percentage of evangelicals, no pro life women would say that abortion should be 100% illegal even if the mother’s life is in danger. It is a fundamental difference in the view of personhood of a fetus, not just over who has rights to a woman’s body.
Thus, if a woman believes that a fetus is a person with rights, then that woman is justified in voting for a party that supports that idea and isn’t “stupid” or “anti-feminist.” I disagree with her wholly, but I understand where her decision is coming from and while I may try to persuade her to see things my way, I would never say outright she shouldn’t vote for the candidate she supports just because I think she’s wrong. Trying to shoehorn women into voting against their beliefs just because of their gender seems inherently wrong to me.