We Are the 51 percentersApril 8th, 2012 © by Susan Swartz
Three of us were sitting in a friend’s kitchen talking about the alarming state of vaginal politics when our friend’s husband walked in and said, “What’s wrong with you women? You are 51 percent of this country. How can you let this happen?”
He’s a good guy, a feminist in plumber’s clothes, on our side. He made a good point. We are the majority. A little more than half the population is a big edge. Why do we, the 51 percenters, keep finding ourselves in second place?
I think at first we were in shock to find ourselves at war again. We knew abortion would come up because it always gets the troops riled up. Then the vaginal ultrasound obsession came out of the blue and became a bandwagon. Then they went after birth control, like it hadn’t already been decided years ago. They kept catching us unaware. But we closed ranks, sort of, and stood fast. And fast again, even against that creepy radio goon.
One of our finest hours might have been we pulled the Susan G. Komen cancer foundation off the backs of Planned Parenthood and said woman to woman, we can’t let politicians pit us against each other.
To me, that continues to be one of the most perplexing parts of the current War on Women. Where do they get their women recruits?
I listened in to a lively round table of thinking women on the Melissa Harris-Perry show. Tulane professor, political sharpie, no-apologies feminist and still in her 30s, Harris-Perry gives me hope. I’d like to see her run for president some day, maybe with Rachel Maddow as secretary of state.
One guest was the also exciting Monica Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American columnist who writes about Arab and Muslim issues. Eltahawy, who describes herself as a liberal Muslim, said women’s bodies everywhere are the battlefield of geopolitics. I think that’s what caught a lot of American women off guard, that our lady parts were being used as a battlefield in 2012 America. While we were cheering on women’s advances in other countries, our own guys were sneaking up from behind with a burqa.
If you are a woman in Egypt, said Eltahawy, you either lose your mind or become a feminist. That made me wonder why women support candidates and issues that seem so contrary to their interest and that of their daughters and granddaughters and great nieces. Women don’t all have the same politics, thank goodness, but I don’t know why any member of a 51 percent majority would put up with disrespect from anyone at any level.
Could be they’re just saying one thing and thinking another. Political scientist Victoria DeFransesco Soto at the University of Texas points out that all wives of Republican presidents after Pat Nixon have been pro-choice. They were quietly a house divided, until the president left office, with husband and wife disagreeing on a basic social policy of their party.
Now, the numbers are starting to show that women aren’t letting these attacks go and have given a healthy lead in the polls to President Obama over presumed GOP front runner Mitt Romney.
We should expect that when Romney or one of his fellows emerges as the candidate he will hang onto his wife and declare the war on women is over or was misinterpreted.
I don’t think so. Women know what happens when someone who mistreats you tries to come back. You can never get comfortable with guys like that.
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