Female Voters Give Themselves a Bad Name

Just over a year ago, before she announced her candidacy, I wrote about Hillary Clinton and the woman's vote. Here's part of my analysis:

[H]er style is what many, including women, hold against her... As a woman, she has to be tough - but not so tough that she turns people off.
Up until New Hampshire, perhaps it could be said that Hillary's style was definitely turning voters off in droves (not to mention enough baggage to fill the Titanic's cargo hold). As the gap between her and Barack Obama got smaller and smaller leading up to the Iowa caucuses - followed by Obama's big Iowa win - pundits and other political junkies began to wonder if Hillary's limited charm factor had finally worn off.

Then she nearly cried in New Hampshire, and the momentary metamorphous from cackling shrew to slumber party confidante was played over and over on the networks and online. By some kind of press-induced miracle, Hillary managed to beat Obama in the primaries there by three points. That may seem like small potatoes, but the big story here is that women came to Hillary's rescue by a margin of 51%-32% among single women, and a slightly smaller margin for married women.

Here are just a few examples of why women may have gone whole hog for Hillary:

  • "The mere opening of a tear duct seemed to expose the gender issue that had percolated under the surface of this Democratic race. The media have been quick to repackage New Hampshire as a referendum on feminism. On the day of the primary, feminist icon Gloria Steinem scolded New York Times readers for abandoning the cause, warning women that the "sex barrier [is] not taken as seriously as the racial one." ~ Dahlia Lithwick, TIME

  • "Towering over the personal attacks was the monstrous double standard. The woman was the diligent worker, studying the minutiae of health care, terrorism and taxation, but portrayed as an over-the-hill broad, who every 10 minutes had to answer a question about why people didn't like her. Not that this should matter, but John McCain happens to be 11 years her senior, and Mitt Romney several months older than the New York senator." ~ Froma Harrop, Houston Chronicle

  • "If you listened to the guys in New Hampshire, to the endless parade of mostly male pundits proclaiming Hillary's weakness, the irrelevance of gender, the excesses of her emotion, and the flaws in her persona, you couldn't help but be reminded of her Republican opponent in that Senate race. You didn't have to be a feminist to catch a whiff of the faint odor of smug sexism. You just had to decide that it was time, again, to stand up to it. And the women of New Hampshire did just that." ~ Susan Estrich, Fox News
  • "At first, I thought it was bad that she cried, but then I thought she is a woman, give her a chance," Diane Fischel, NH voter.
Is this a harbinger of things to come? Could it be that women are rallying around Hillary much like the pioneers circled the wagons to keep out the Indians? Is this an "us vs. them" moment?

If it is, then I worry about the future of this country.

We are told that women are just as viable as men, and in what have been traditionally male careers they should be treated just the same as men are because really, there is no inherent difference between men and women. Then we hear that certain concessions need to be made: women joining the military, police or firehouse are given watered-down physical standards to meet because their physical makeup (in most cases) means they can't keep up with the men. Women need to be paid just as much as men for similar work experience -- but taking several years or more off to start their families shouldn't be held against them, even if the men they are competing against have been working all along.

And now we hear conflicting stories about women in politics: either they are being treated shabbily because they act tough like the men do, or they are being discriminated against for acting womanly and showing public emotion. Please pass the aspirin. And maybe a bottle of cheap gin.

Ann Coulter was, as usual, vilified in the press for daring to voice the following sentiment in her latest book:

If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.

It also makes the point, it is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it's the party of women and "We'll pay for health care and tuition and day care - and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?"
Yet doesn't her commentary have some merit? According to John R. Lott, Jr., it does. He suggests that growth in government spending - a Democrat specialty - can be directly linked to women's suffrage, both at the state and federal level because, as he puts it, "women are generally more risk averse than men. Possibly, this is why they are more supportive of government programs to ensure against certain risks in life."

Anything Ann Coulter says is bound to tick someone off. But in this instance, I don't think her politics riled people up, but the fact that she betrayed her own. Et tu, Brute?

So now we have women deciding to vote for Hillary because she showed she's "one of us." She's now part of the coffee klatsch, the women who watch daytime television talk shows and soaps. It's, as Sean Hannity described it on the radio the other day, the "Oprah-ization" of politics. Yet they want to be taken seriously as voters who look at the serious issues that face our nation and our world?

As a woman, I find that incredibly insulting. I conduct a great deal of research on the issues and make my choices in the voting booth accordingly. Policy (and to a certain extent, experience) is what should count most in any election. If women want to vote for Hillary because they really think she is the best choice based upon her positions on things like the economy, national security and so on, fine: I may consider them to be misguided souls, but at least that's better rationale than to vote for her because "she's a woman."

Unfortunately, as Ben Shapiro explains, American voters (and not just women)

"...rarely look at policy when they pull the lever for a politician -- we look instead at the person. We judge politicians the same way we judge other people: based on the image they project."
So women who didn't like Hillary before are now giving her a second look because of her dewy-eyed performance in New Hampshire.

And they accuse men of sexism?

Pam Meister is the editor of Family Security Matters , and a blogger . She can be reached via e-mail.
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