You have probably heard that this Presidential election will be decided by female voters. If that is the case, it is curious that pundits and politicians alike show so much disrespect for women. Embarrassingly, CNN published a blog post titled “Do Hormones Drive Women’s Votes?” and deleted the article the same day after harsh criticism from internet users. The post discussed a peer-reviewed study suggesting that ovulating single women are more likely to be liberal. Whether there is any validity to this study is beside the point. The headline of the article portrays women as hormonal beings whose cognitive perceptions swing so wildly on a monthly basis that it is actually likely to affect their choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. In addition, the article stated that women’s ovulation cycles are completely out of their control, despite the fact that women often control their ovulation cycles with hormonal prescription drugs, suggesting that women are somehow powerless over their political opinions.
These attacks on the competence of female voters come from both men and women. Ann Coulter has stated many times that women shouldn’t vote. Furthermore, according to Coulter, single women want government to be their husbands, whatever that means. It is not surprising that Coulter is not the only Republican woman to feel this way about women voters. Central Mississippi Tea Party Leader Janis Lane said letting women vote was a bad idea. She went on to call women mean, hateful, diabolical and untrustworthy. Presumably, she believes that mean people are incapable of making their own voting decisions and representing themselves as citizens. She even claimed that she is politically active to make sure there is some sanity for women in politics. She neglected to explain how sanity for women is any different from plain old sanity.
The Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee and host Jon Stewart recently commented on the media discussion of what might “turn off” women voters, such as the aggressive posturing between the candidates at the Town Hall debate. Male and female news pundits seem to be unaware that they are sexualizing a woman’s voting decision. The idea that politicians need to turn on women voters in order to get their votes is degrading to women and suggests that they make all of their important life decisions on the basis of sexual attraction.
Not only does this assault on women’s cognitive ability come from both men and women, it comes from both Democrats and Republicans as well. An Obama campaign ad targeting young women features Lena Dunham speaking in terms that suggest that voting is like sex and having a President is like being in a college relationship.
In these last few days of the Presidential race, we are witnessing the full force of American patriarchy as candidates and campaign managers struggle to get ahead. Journalists struggle to keep the narrative interesting and controversial despite the constant rehashing of the same political news and the short attention span of the American voters. In the last 92 years, it seems that Americans have not fully resolved the question of whether or not women are equal to men in intelligence and competence.
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