I’m in Washington this week, taking some politically centered classes. We totaled up the male to female ratio of the attendees: 5 to 1. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. I was also at RightOnline for a couple days, and the ratio was not much better. At Saturday’s opening remarks, Michelle Malkin and Rachel Campos-Duffy were the only female speakers, maintaining that 5:1 ratio there as well. As a general rule, politics is a man’s world, in which women, particularly on the right, sit back and roll with the punches. Why is this?
Well, there are a lot of theories. Mine is that conservative women are, for the most part, content to not be involved. One of my good friends has said to me before that most women would rather sit around and read about breast feeding and dirty diapers than be concerned with the country their children will be living in. Making your kids a priority? Absolutely! Does this not include actively participating in the country your children will grow up in?
There is no excuse for ignorance or apathy. Do you need to run for office? No. Not necessarily. But women currently hold just 17% of the House seats and less than 10% of the Senate. We’re entirely underrepresented.
I’d wager that this is one of the reasons for Sarah Palin’s success among right wingers. She motivated women on the right… the ones who don’t normally get off their butt. The moms who are too busy to get to their polling place, let alone volunteer at a phone bank or blog or be activists, were showing up. She got them excited. We saw families at the rallies. We saw women actually connect with a political candidate and want to engage for the first time. I was one of those women. Honestly, the momentum that she built is the reason Smart Girl Politics exists. In short, she made it okay for some of us to be a conservative. For that I’m grateful.
But where do we go from here? This is the danger of the cult of personality, which has always been my major issue with Palin. What happens when she goes away? If we center our movement on her, it will die when she drops out of the spotlight. She’s no longer an elected official. She’s a private citizen. An effective one, with a lot of potential and massive name recognition and fund raising capacity, but a private citizen nonetheless. Will women stay motivated? Will they stay engaged?
We NEED them to. Democrats believe that they own us, and in many ways they do. Women broke 56% to 43% for Barack Obama, where men only broke 49% to 48% for him. Feminists have been very effective. Conservative women are portrayed as self-loathing, close minded, backwards and irrelevant… and heaven forbid they remove “choice” from other women. FASCISTS! We’ve allowed them to frame the “choice” argument so completely that even those that would normally be pro-life are afraid to touch the subject for fear of stepping on the toes of other women.
One thing I think we forget is that the number of people in general that live and breathe politics like bloggers/activists/politicos do is incredibly small. Those of us on the front lines find it unfathomable that people don’t get as angry as we do about, say, health care. Or “insurance reform” as the White House says I should call it. The fact remains, those who are “independent” or “moderate” or any other ambiguous identification tend to vote liberal by default, especially those in the college/young professional demographic. They don’t much care about the specifics, they care about the general message.
Women in particular are emotional creatures. The left has no problem playing that emotional cord… mainly because it works. We respond to the cries of “hands off my body”, “help the homeless”, “choice”, and “let’s save the cute fuzzy trendy animal of the week”. Let’s face it, conservative pleas are generally more along the lines of “TAX CUTS! SMALL GOVERNMENT!” We’re just not going to get women all hot and bothered over issues like that. Guns tend to be emotional, but generally for those who are OPPOSED to them.
So how do we get women to care? We get more female candidates. Smart, conservative women who run for office garner attention. They give women someone to relate to. They saw in Sarah Palin a mother, a wife, and their best friend. She played on their heart strings. Was she perfect? No. But she elicited a response, simply because she was a woman running for office. That alone is powerful.
Ladies – we are the majority of the population. We’re smart. We’re capable. We’re entirely underrepresented in our government. By sitting back and allowing the left wing feminists to speak for us, we’re allowing women who really don’t even like being women define what we should be. Change that. Stop being apathetic.
UPDATE: Stay at home moms – you have one of the most important jobs in existence, and I’m not saying that you need to be “on the front lines”. I’m simply saying that it’s your duty to vote and know what’s going on. There’s no excuse for ignorance.