Let’s lower our voices and moderate our tone
I am not an expert on women, but I see no virtue in pitting American women of any party, race, age, social status or ethnic group against each other, nor do I see any gains to be made from using our differences as a weapon to bloody the opposition.
“We are not amused.” – Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria, now there was one tough lady at a time when toughness was considered the sole province of men. I suppose Hillary Rosen could have said that Queen V hadn’t worked a day in her life either, and she might have been right if she was talking about a 9-5 hourly wage job, but Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire for 63 years, and few doubted her qualifications.
It amazes me that political strategists and pollsters think they can strip away all the accouterments that make up the outward face of women, isolate and label them like an entomologist pinning butterflies to a board. If these professionals think women are nothing more than the sum of disparate parts or can be re-assembled like a Mrs. Potato Head (and messaged to accordingly), they have never met a real woman, let alone lived with one.
Ms. Rosen must have made her now famous comment as a result of an acute case of talkingpointitus or suffered a momentary gender lapse, otherwise she wouldn’t have coughed up such a hairball, especially at the time when her party’s chieftains were mobilizing their troops to ratchet up the War on Women and take it to the Republican barbarian camp and their front-runner, Mitt Romney.
We shouldn’t punish people for speaking their minds on national TV. We should just precede their appearances with a couple of their famous quotes thrown up on the screen for the viewers to see in case they’ve forgotten them. To quote Shakespeare, “The evil men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones,” but with so much drivel to sort through in any given day, we need to be reminded occasionally of that evil.
We don’t judge books by their covers, so why should we pigeonhole women voters into stereotypical boxes to fit a political narrative or target group? Are all college-age single women alike? Do all working women (those that have out-of-the-home paying jobs) have the same aspirations or share the same ideologies? Are all wealthy women protected from hardships or immune from life-changing personal challenges?
Do all women want their contraception devices or pills paid for and regulated by the government? Is the sisterhood of NOW and other female organizations only comprised of liberal East Coast academic women? Do middle-aged married Mid-Western women only vote for Republican candidates?
Are women more persuadable than men when it comes to education and health-care issues? Are all women pacifists? Do women love their children more and their jobs less (and men the reverse)? Are they all driven by their protective nurturing nature?
What we do to others we do to ourselves
I swear, sometimes these political strategists are nothing more than vultures perched on the hill intimidating the most vulnerable of the herd, waiting for them to show their weakness. Preying on their fears, they wear down their subjects with incessant rhetoric until they succumb.
One hundred and fifty-four years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave a famous speech in Illinois in which he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” That speech didn’t win him the Senate seat he sought, but it did remind a deeply divided nation that it was teetering on the brink of its own dissolution.
I am not an expert on women, but I see no virtue in pitting American women of any party, race, age, social status or ethnic group against each other, nor do I see any gains to be made from using our differences as a weapon to bloody the opposition. What we do to others we do to ourselves, and that inescapable truth ought to be enough to make us want to lower our voices and moderate our tone.
Stephan Helgesen is a former U.S. diplomat and former director of the N.M. Office of Science and Technology. He is currently the honorary German consul in New Mexico and heads up his own export consulting company. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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