#WhatWomenNeed

February 11, 2014 18:00 pm

by Scarlet Hawk · 15 comments

There are very few things that actually get under my skin in politics, but singling me out as a woman really does.  Most of the stances, slogans, and platforms I see as either a leveraging for business or personal gain.  However, I cannot express the depths of my ire when parties pander to me as a female by talking about reproductive rights or equal pay.

I was skimming through twitter yesterday when I noticed the above hashtag was trending.  Really?  Please, do tell me what I need.

Essentially this hashtag is being used as a tool to promote the discussion of healthcare from a female perspective (which inherently includes reproductive rights, but should not be limited to the discussion of abortion), equal pay, raising the minimum wage, etc.  It’s also being done in preface to Valentine’s Day, as another means to focus on a more “female” holiday. Ugh.

Here’s an alternative hashtag I would suggest considering: #WeNeedTheSameThings

Men and women both need quality and affordable healthcare (what that involves differs, yes, but stop putting us in our own little category-reproductive rights involve men as well).  We both need jobs that pay us what we’re worth based on work ethics, choices in career and talents, not gender.  We need a government that is small enough to be responsive to domestic issues and big enough to protect us from external challenges.

While I know it may surprise all those national male political consultants, we ladies have been balancing budgets, running companies and employing people for a good long while now.  We want the same things y’all do, and most of us don’t want exceptions, we just want to compete.  If either national party thinks they’re winning women over by talking about reproductive rights as an “issue”, don’t be surprised when the ladies yawn and pass over you at the polls.

Pro tip: social issues are just that, social. 

Stick to discussions of economics, problem solving, defense…really pick ANYTHING other than reproductive rights and equal pay.  We care, we work, we vote, and we’re smart enough to care, work and vote on more than just these two issues.  I run my own business, have some major health concerns/costs, and am a swing voter.  These are the things parties should be focusing on when pandering to me, not my gender nor my ability to reproduce.  I do not have the luxury of being a single issue voter.  Once the parties figure this out, there will be no more concept of a War on Women nor binders full of us anywhere- because we’re all in the same boat, sink or sail.

Stop pandering, and start problem solving. It’s a novel concept, but one that will gain you votes from men and women alike.

It was this happy feminine conspiracy which made Southern society so pleasant. Women knew that a land in which men were contented, uncontradicted, and safe in possession of unpunctured vanity was likely to be a very pleasant place for women to live. So from the cradle to the grave, women strove to make men pleased with themselves, and the satisfied men repaid lavishly with gallantry and adoration. In fact, men willingly gave the ladies everything in the world, except credit for having intelligence.-Margaret Mitchell

 

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon Lester February 11, 2014 at 10:53 pm

Awesome, best post I’ve seen here in a while.

sageinarage February 12, 2014 at 9:11 am

This is an extremely silly post. You don’t like being pandered to when politicians talk about issues that affect you specifically? As much as you might want to deny it, there ARE differences between men and women, especially in their health care needs, and how those are provided right now.

” If either national party thinks they’re winning women over by talking about reproductive rights as an “issue”, don’t be surprised when the ladies yawn and pass over you at the polls.”

Newsflash! This already happened for the democrats. They made women’s rights a big issue, and they’ve come up big with women in the polls, turning an existing disparity into a larger one. Why do you think so many tea party republicans lost elections? It was because of the dumb things they said about women.

This whole article is a pretty crap propaganda piece, which tries to equate ‘equal rights for women’ like ‘extra rights for women’, acting like focusing on issues for women is somehow giving them special treatment. The whole point is that they are being treated unfairly right now! Saying that women should be able to get abortions and equal pay isn’t exactly pork barrel politics.

Scarlet Hawk February 12, 2014 at 9:40 am

I apologize that I was not clear. My irritation with being pandered to in this way isn’t that I do not recognize differences between men and women and their healthcare needs, but that women think bigger than just these two issues. I think parties should give women more credit to think beyond just these two points.

I would assert that Democrats won their victories because they took a leadership approach to healthcare in general, not just reproductive rights. W attempted a national healthcare plan in 2004, but offered drug discount cards. Pretty weak, IMHO. This was the Republican answer to healthcare. Democrats took a much larger sweeping change and sold the American people on it, not just reproductive rights.

I agree about any candidate making blanket statements about women- I can’t speak for all women, but it makes ME recognize their lack of comprehension.

I am truly curious though, how would you say that women are being treated unfairly? This isn’t a point of contention, I just honestly don’t feel that I am being treated unfairly. I’d be interested to have insight to the other side.

I also am a little confused by your last statement, “Saying that women should be able to get abortions and equal pay isn’t exactly pork barrel politics.” I would agree if we didn’t already have these rights, but since women CAN and DO make their own reproductive rights choices (which I personally think includes more than just abortions) and their own choices in jobs, I think focusing on these issues as those specific to my gender IS pork barrel. I think I will understand better your last statement when you can articulate how women are being treated unfairly. And again, I’m not saying you’re wrong there, I’m just genuinely trying to understand.

sageinarage February 12, 2014 at 11:20 am

So here’s the real question – why do you think the parties aren’t giving women credit beyond those points? I’m not sure why you think that. And even if so, why do you think that means they shouldn’t talk about those issues specifically at all? Latinos care about issues beyond immigration – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about immigration. It’s still a big issue for that community.

I’m having trouble coming up with a concise response to the rest of your response, since it seems to boil down to ‘I’m doing fine, therefore discrimination is over’. It’s like thinking that racism ended once Obama became president. There are still lots of things preventing equality, there’s still a wage gap between men and women, there are still lots of states restricting abortion and contraception. Look at states like Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi, which have been introducing new restrictions. It’s going to sound really snarky, but I’d suggest you watch the news more, and don’t think that your personal experience is indicative of the country as a whole. I mean, I’ve been doing fine financially for the last 5 years, but that doesn’t mean the country wasn’t in a recession.

Scarlet Hawk February 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm

That’s a legitimate question; I truly do not know why parties don’t give women more credit. I think it is to their (all parties) detriment.

My assumption would be that until now political parties did not depend upon women so much to get their vote, as the largest voting bloc has traditionally been white, middle aged men. And that’s not specific even to a party; that’s just campaigns as they have been defined in the past. Numbers show that women: single, working women who are sometimes also mothers are one of the fastest growing voting blocs across the country. I think it is imperative for any candidate anywhere to engage women, I just think focusing on these two issues as a way to get the “woman’s vote” is to dumb us down and I find it rather insulting. I particularly find it insulting that this hashtag was tied into Valentine’s Day week, as somehow this holiday is inherently more female. But maybe I’m the only woman who hates Valentine’s Day- totally possible.

I wouldn’t assert that these issues should not be talked about- I think they are important, I just think how we frame things is also important. Reproductive rights and wages are not women’s issues, nor are security, economics, etc. only male issues. These are HUMAN issues. I think when we move the discussion to a more comprehensive lens, we can have more comprehensive approaches. I will use your example of immigration. It’s an important issue not b/c it affects the Latino community exclusively (it affects everyone in the state of Georgia, whether they recognize it or not), but b/c it has a direct affect on economics in our state.

So goes it with reproductive rights and wage gaps. Healthcare and wage issues are imperative to our society as a whole- not jsut women. The idiosyncracies of women’s health versus men’s health do come into play when we are discussing these things, but we ALL need quality, affordable healthcare. We may define it in differing ways, but these are larger issues than just #WhatWomenNeed. This is IMHO just a gimmick to draw attention to a small part of a bigger challenge. I’m not interested in the trees, I’m interested in the forest.

I can see how you could come to that conclusion from my response. I don’t think the fight is over for recognition of women’s part in health issues. I just personally think we’ve moved beyond the point of saying something is “unfair” and more to the point of recognizing that where women sit at the table is a benefit to the whole table. Does that make sense? My personal experience aside, I’ve found that the ability to influence any conversation isn’t about talking all about the individual, or complaining about something being unfair (when legitimately it very well may be unfair), but more when one can make a compelling case as to why this part of the puzzle is important to the entire puzzle as a whole.

I think that’s less about #WhatWomenNeed and more about #WeNeedTheSameThings, and here’s why it benefits you to consider this issue….I think you and I may feel very similarly on the issue of reproductive rights, but we would frame it in different ways.

To me, reproductive rights would be better framed in what GreenCracker asserted (I think)- when women have rights in this country (including reproductive ones like regular mammograms, regular pelvic exams, and access to birth control), we have the ability to make wise decisions. Decisions that benefit our communities, our places of employment, and how we vote. A person without rights makes decisions that are based on desperation, not sound judgement. We are a better country when people (women and men) aren’t making decisions out of desperation- and when are you desperate? When you are sick and/or poor.

I think the fastest way to move outside of a place of desperation is to improve the public’s education, economic opportunities, and allow there to be more healthcare options. We’re making steps toward this, and it’s long ball game- not short. But I don’t see this as a women’s issue; I see it as a human issue.

sageinarage February 12, 2014 at 5:50 pm

You misunderstood me – I mean, what is your EVIDENCE that they are not giving women credit for thinking beyond those issues? You’re just assuming that this is the case without giving any actual evidence that it is true. Presumably for all the other issues, they don’t call out women specifically because they don’t need to, because they are issues for everyone as you say.

The rest of your response is still silly. Being healthy and wealthy won’t help you out if Planned Parenthood is banned from your state, and you can’t use the ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ kind of metaphor when the whole point is that it doesn’t (ie, wage inequality). You yourself sound like you’re attempting to use economic issues to distract from the right’s awful positions on women’s rights. It’s possible to fix both problems, and we don’t have to just ignore one.

Scarlet Hawk February 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Oh, ok. You’re correct, I misunderstood you. When you asked “why” that translated to me a question of motivation, not evidence. I apologize for my misunderstanding.

I was really speaking to this particular hashtag, but also you can look on most Presidential candidate’s websites and see a specific tab devoted to women in some regard. The President has his, labeled “Stand With Women”. It’s entire focus is on reproductive health issues and wage gap issues. I’m pleased to say that Nunn’s site has nothing to report. Handel and Kingston frame reproductive rights in a value based way, which takes on more of a moral tone rather than a female specific one. Not a tactic I would use either, but at least they don’t make it just about women.

As for being healthy and wealthy helping you out- it actually will. The number one reason why women choose Planned Parenthood as an option for birth control and/or abortions (which are actually a very small part of the good work Planned Parenthood does) is b/c they cannot afford them in private healthcare settings. If one is healthy and wealthy, they can enjoy the privilege of seeking a private ob-gyn or travelling to another part of the state (or another state) to seek these services.
The decline of state funds for an entity like Planned Parenthood largely affects the socio-economically disadvantaged rather than the wealthy. This is the number one reason why I cringe at hearing a decline in these resources.

I make no exceptions to any party for their ignorance on any issue- reproductive rights or otherwise. That’s the great part about being Independent- I don’t side with anyone. :)

I agree it’s possible to fix both problems. My assertion would be that as a result of more education, more opportunities, a more expansive approach to life, women have made decisions that benefit them more readily. It has taken a good long while to get here, and we must remain engaged and and have open discussions to maintain rather than lose the ground that has been gained.

I think I’ll just agree to disagree on our approaches to how we maintain that ground. It sounds to me like we want the same thing, we simply have different approaches to achieving those goals.

greencracker February 12, 2014 at 9:30 am

Maybe just cool it with “women won the right to vote.” No they didn’t. They successfully removed the artificial legal constraint to their inherent right to vote.

The vote is a right and not a male person’s thing to give.

Any others?
____________ is a right and not a person’s thing to give.

Here I’d say birth control pills. Neither TV nor the microwave nor the Hot Pocket was the greatest 20th century invention. It was The Pill.

A pill, which by the way, confers other benefits besides contraception and if you don’t know about them, I suggest you go read up.

Scarlet Hawk February 12, 2014 at 9:56 am

Hmmmm…I am not articulating that women shouldn’t speak up for their rights, but again that they include more than just these two.

I agree. I have never understood why (in the past) Georgia’s Medicaid list approved the provision of Viagra to men but not birth control pills to women.

In my county seat, when I was in high school, we had what was called the Teen Scene, where teen girls could get proper ob-gyn care and (if desired) birth control pills. I believe it was a sliding scale basis, much like Planned Parenthood provides. I think these things are necessary, and i wish more were available in rural Georgia, but I don’t see them as the only issues important to women. I also find abstinence only sex-ed to be a problem waiting to happen. It’s not if, but when.

This hashtag was used to draw national attention, and so therefore I find it missing the mark with me b/c I personally think the federal government should be worried about our security, economy, and infrastructure. I’m not saying these issues aren’t important, I just find the hashtag to be pandering to me and distracting from what I personally consider (maybe you do not) more comprehensive issues than reproductive rights and equal pay.

greencracker February 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

O yea, I’d agree that I don’t care for politicians who think all I care about is abortions and equal pay.

And I would agree that men and women need essentially the “same” things, even if one needs paps and one needs prostate exams. And yes, I would agree that birth control is in fact an identical thing that both men and women need to pay attention to, even if she’s the one ingesting the pill.

The only federal gender-type action I’m looking for though is to some how make ‘em ease up on the Viagra ads. Geez, watching the news with grandpa & sitting thru multiple viagra ads? #awkward.

Scarlet Hawk February 12, 2014 at 10:24 am

Ha! I agree on the Viagra ads. #awkward and a half!

Next time I see you in person, please remind me to tell you a story regarding Viagra, the state Capitol and my very first legislative session. I think you’ll crack a smile. ;)

Jon Lester February 12, 2014 at 10:53 am

I think Wendy Davis will see for herself that the women’s vote isn’t so simple, not just because the Texas electorate includes quite a few Catholics, but also because most women (including single-issue voters) are too decent to condone the way Davis allegedly used her second husband, to say nothing of an embarrassingly inept campaign operation.

Chris Huttman February 12, 2014 at 9:43 pm

American catholics are probably more pro-choice than non-Catholic christians, but I think Wendy Davis’s real problem will be that she is running Texas.

Noway February 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I always thought the only thing women needed was chocolate!

John Vestal February 13, 2014 at 11:38 am

It seems that the last couple of election cycles has prodded some to look for someone to “blame”, and some who call themselves conservative have pointed to women (especially in the younger segments) as one of the targets. They would mention polls that infer…..when ranking issues by level of importance….that women were more likely to rank issues related to “security” higher and “liberty” lower than men. They then used their “Jump To Conclusions” mat to proclaim that women were more likely to be “ok” with the big-govt policies of the present admin and liberals, in general.

Take that fwiw. YMMV.