One Month In and One Month Away

Hello bloggers, I’m back! This summer and the first month of school have been extremely busy for me, but now that I’m getting into the swing of things I can finally set aside time to blog. First, though, I think I should reintroduce myself. It’s already been over a year and a half since I posted my first blog, so of course there are a few updates in my life, not to mention there are a few new bloggers. 🙂

Name: Lauren Williams

Year: Junior

Studies: Sociology major, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies minor

Hometown: Omaha, NE

Educational interests: reproductive justice, women’s health, public policy, politics

Other interests/hobbies: volunteering, astronomy, singing, writing, reading, pop culture

Favorite posts of mine: There are a few that I’m proud of and have sentimental value, but the ones I enjoyed writing the most were the ones where I freely used my voice or frustration of the current state of U.S. politics. The earliest of these was my review of Twilight, which I had way too much fun writing. Another one was my discussion on female political candidates. Finally, I also reviewed The Hunger Games, restoring my faith in young adult novels.

Now that I’ve introduced myself a bit, let me move on to something that’s been on my mind lately: the election.

As with every election, this one will decide everything. It’s a marker of our future, of how we stand in U.S. politics, etc. etc.

Here’s the thing: as a woman exercising her first time to vote in a presidential election, this does mean everything.

In last night’s debate, we learned a lot from both sides. Arguably, Mitt Romney won the debate. His attitude showed that he was ready to fight back and show something of a plan to rebuild America. While he showed more guts than he’s showed in the past, his tone is still wrong. Brenda Peterson writes:

Romney’s fervent goal of seizing the presidency was evident in his body language, his snobbish smirks, his false sympathy for those of us “crushed” in the middle class — those 47 percent he so contemptuously dismissed when he was among his rich cronies. Romney’s combative dogfight stance may impress men or those who have held power so long they assume it belongs to them. But women, or anyone who has been in an underclass or faced racism, read this behavior as arrogant and overly aggressive — the language and habit of dominance.

Although Romney’s attitude was off-putting to many women, President Obama was no better last night. Both he and Romney brought up stories about women struggling to get by, but they failed to make concrete connections to the problems that women face, including the gender pay gap and the problem with health care pre-Affordable Care Act. These issues easily stand out on their own and could have a separate debate dedicated to them. We all know that this is never going to happen—I mean, why should we ever work to solve the oppressive dominant systems that women struggle with every day?—but it would have helped to at least address them. Bryce Covert argues that women’s issues are too intertwined with society to hold high priority, but they hold such high priority with women that they deserve attention:

“Women’s issues” often get lumped into “social issues” and then sidelined as not being “core issues” like the deficit or jobs. Perhaps that’s why Lehrer didn’t see fit to interrupt the candidates with questions about women. It could even explain why Obama failed to make any mention of them last night. But issues like contraception, abortion and equality have huge economic ramifications in women’s lives. They should have had their place in a discussion of the economy last night.

The reason why it’s easier to put the blame on Romney is because he’s had an, uh, interesting track record of women’s issues. I won’t go into details of his flip-flops and ignorant statements, but the fact of the matter is that his current views aren’t very women-friendly. Romney appeared to be a fighter for our issues, yet he said so himself that he’d cut Planned Parenthood and would repeal the ACA. I don’t care whether or not he personally disagrees with abortion rights, but I do care when figures like him believe that Planned Parenthood and contraception are abortion and sex factories. I could write pages on why this mindset is abhorrent. In short, Planned Parenthood serves millions of women every year in a wide range of services, including education, family planning, and cancer screenings. The ACA contraception mandate saves women hundreds of dollars over the years for reasons more than having preventing ovulation. Many forms of birth control help with the symptoms of PMS and regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle. As said before, it is ignorance that perpetuates the negative rhetoric concerning contraception, which is detrimental to voters still deciding on a candidate.

As for pay inequalities, many male politicians—hell, many people in general—act as if they don’t exist. Women aren’t being treated unfairly because there was feminism in the 1960s! I had the privilege of seeing Lilly Ledbetter this summer, and it was discouraging for her to describe the long road ahead of us; we must still fight gendered socialization and differential treatment, especially in schools. Romney’s biggest failure is that he acts as if women’s economic problems are due to Obama’s policies. Rather, they are the result of societal factors that need to be addressed separately.

For now, we can only hope that women’s issues will be talked about in a later debate. Until then, we must remain engaged in the potential outcomes of the election. When election day arrives, we must also vote. I can’t stress this enough. If you can vote, VOTE. Use your privilege and do your duty. It sounds a bit cheesy when we hear about the importance of this year’s election, but as a woman I understand that my rights are on the table and I can’t sit by idly.

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