Women. There are a lot of us! There are over 86,000 more women than men in Philadelphia, according to the latest Census, and we also account for more than half of Pennsylvania’s population. And we vote! In large numbers! Remember the 2008 presidential election? Yeah, that was us, Mr. Obama. This election season, some people, perhaps forgetting that we have voting rights (since 1920, thank you very much), have been talking about us like, well, we don’t exist. For example, our health care has been one of the biggest talking points throughout this campaign season. Yet when it came time to debate what rights we should and should not have—you know, like access to contraception and safe abortion, to name a couple—we were nowhere to be found. Thing is, we’ve got a lot to say. Opinions, if you will. Why is why, for this year’s election issue, Philadelphia Weekly has decided to change that. Every piece in here is written about women, by women.* We wish there were more female candidates to talk about, but as we all know, women represent just a small percentage of American politicians. That doesn’t mean our votes count any less. So in honor of Kathleen Kane, Democratic candidate for state attorney general; Marakay Rogers, Libertarian candidate for state attorney general; U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz; and the light sprinkling of female candidates around the state, we welcome you to our binder full of women.
*Except for our token white dude’s very important opinion.
‘Social issues’ Are Part of the Economy, Stupid
By Tara Murtha // firstname.lastname@example.org
Women aren’t at the table this election, so we are, as they say, on the menu. Indeed, if you listen to the men-folk, we’re a small dish.
“You’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy,” Romney’s senior campaign advisor recently said. “This is not a social-issue election.” In other words: This is a man’s election, sweethearts. The conventional wisdom goes that men care about tough, grown-up issues like the economy, while women focus on fuzzy social issues like reproductive rights.
It’s not a man’s election. Not even close. The Romney camp’s shiny-object theory is itself a shiny object meant to distract us from the fact that reproductive rights and the economy are not exactly two distinct subjects. In a political climate in which all we seem to talk about are “the food stamp president,” “the 47 percent” and welfare entitlements, it’s time to stop pretending that the economy is wholly separate from the means of reproduction.
The reason Romney suggests he’d work to overturn Roe v. Wade then quickly dismisses the subject as a mere “social issue” is because the doesn’t want you to think about the moral and economic impact of such a radical proposal.
Romney has declared that he’d defund Planned Parenthood, which would, by design, make it harder for lower-income women to find abortion services. And since Planned Parenthood mostly provides free or low-cost contraception, thus reducing the rate of abortion, well, I think you can see where this is going. Decreasing access to contraception and overturning Roe inevitably means more children in poverty, more poverty all around, and more people relying on government and staying alive off taxpayer money. (It also means thousands of preventable deaths for women, but that’s not even a talking point for most of the so-called Christian right.) So, tell us again how this isn’t an economic issue?
Two facts: The percentage of poor women having abortions has risen over the last decade and single mothers are more likely to live in poverty. Do the math: Under such a plan, Romney would be “the welfare president.” (Unless of course the plan was to punish poor mothers by starving their children, a bill recently proposed—then yanked in shame after an uproar—here in Pennsylvania.)
It’s not just being a single parent that leads to poverty. Studies show that single fathers are less likely than single mothers to live below the poverty line. Maybe that could be mitigated if women were guaranteed to earn equal pay for equal work. Oh, but that’s right. Romney is against that also. Here’s a guy who thinks the most important issue for working women is getting home in time to fix dinner.
Meanwhile, no one has once proposed holding reluctant fathers economically responsible for helping raise all these precious children.
Reproductive freedom is an economic issue. Dismissing the virtual elimination of access to women’s healthcare including contraception and abortion as mere “social issues” is a canard used to disguise the fact that women cannot win under Romney.
The good news is that since we’re full of the magic rape-venom Rep. Todd Akin believes we pack up inside a secret vagina gland, we have the ability to shut this whole thing down. Vote as if your financial future depended on it—because it does.
Tara Murtha is senior writer for Philadelphia Weekly.
Lashing Out at ‘Le Femme Political’
By Nia Ngina Meeks
I’ve never thought of myself as a minority. I’m a woman, the gender that makes up the majority of this country, state and city. As far as I’m concerned, I am a determining leader of this electorate, not some whiny interest group.
When I hear chicks declare they’re “not political,” I want to pull a Cher, slap them and tell them to “Snap out of it!” Same goes for the bulk of pundits running around out there.
I’m tired of folks buying the ever-enduring myths coming from talking heads who barely understand the power of Midol, people shorthanding our participation in politics like they would our supposed preference of films. They bandy about the “women’s vote” topic as if we’re a narrow slice of the electorate, simply a box to check off, instead of the majority that we are.
In this fantasy view, women—every ethnicity and age, urban, suburban, rural, single, divorced, married, separated, straight, gay or between—are a monolith of weepy emotion, just waiting for pols to play nice so we can engage in this process and all live happily ever after. We’ll absorb any lie, so long as it’s soothingly packaged.
You do not need identification to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6. We repeat: You do not need identification to vote.
Let’s face it—the last year has been hell for women. The fight to keep reproductive choice intact was fiercer than ever before. It’s a mess, to put it mildly. But what do locals have to say about it? PW rounded up the six most memorable tweets from 2012 to give you an idea.
Letters to the Editor