4 Things Women Have To Deal With During Election Season That Men Just Don't
Perhaps it's for the best that presidential elections occur every four years in the United States, because it gives us time to forget the agony of 24/7 election coverage leading up to the actual day. It's a tough time for everyone — it was this year, at least — but there are some things women deal with during election season that men don't really encounter. Indeed, many men aren't even aware that women do deal with these things — which, honestly, can get a little frustrating. (Maybe it explains why so many men seem to think sexism is over. News flash: It's not. No, not even while we're trying to do our civic duty.)
As you hopefully recall from history class, women didn't gain the right to vote in the United States until 1920, when the 19th Amendment was ratified on Aug. 18. (Incidentally, that means the 100th anniversary is coming up in less than four years, and if you're anything like me, you began planning your women's suffrage-themed party months ago.) Today, women in politics are a more common sight than they used to be (even though, as recent research drove home, more are still definitely needed); the most notable figure, of course, is currently the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. As a whole, women have proven to be a strong electoral force, and some have even speculated that women could be a deciding factor in the upcoming 2016 election.
No matter who you're planning on voting for, you've probably noticed that women experience some things that men just don't during the months leading up to Election Day. Here are four examples of things that women have to deal with that men often have no idea about below.
Accusations Of Voting By Gender
Men who vote for men, no matter their party affiliation, generally go unquestioned. In this election, however, many women have had to deal with accusations of voting by gender — that is, voting for Hillary Clinton because she's a woman. There are several problems with this accusation, beginning with attribution of Clinton's success to some imaginary "woman card" she pulled out of her back pocket. Clinton didn't become the Democratic presidential nominee by relying on her gender for a few sympathy votes, and implying so does a disservice to the woman herself and the people who plan to vote for her. (The converse applies to people who aren't voting for Clinton; if you're casting your ballot for someone else, you've probably been questioned about why you wouldn't vote for a fellow woman in a way that's equally problematic.)
Furthermore, someone's personal reasons for voting are exactly that: Personal. It's nobody's business why you choose to cast your ballot, but women are scrutinized about their choices in a way that men regularly aren't.
Listening To Men Speak About Abortion
It's been said before, but it bears repeating: Although cisgender men will never face the decision to get an abortion (at least, not in the way a woman does), they're often the ones creating and passing legislation regulating the procedure. As of July, just 20 percent of Congress was female, but reproductive rights is a common topic during political campaigns. During election season, it's hard to escape the sight of men speaking about something they'll never have to personally face, on top of all the Facebook statuses that follow every big event in reproductive rights. Eventually, it goes from infuriating to exhausting, and then back to infuriating if you can muster up the energy.
Providing The "Female Perspective"
If you've ever been one of the only women in a room full of men talking about politics, chances are you've been expected to provide the "female perspective" on something that isn't really affected by gender. Whether or not they realize it, the assumption is that you're speaking for all women — you know, because we all share the same brain to trade beauty tips and political views, right?
...Except, no. Needless to say, that's not how people work, but women are still reduced to their gender during election season as much as any other time of year.
Scrutiny Of Their Appearance & Emotions
It's no secret that women politicians are scrutinized to the most minute details, especially when it comes to their appearance and family lives. Male politicians can swear publicly or wear wrinkled suits without comment — and it would be an oversight not to point out that Donald Trump faced little backlash from his supporters after the release of last month's infamous tapes.
But the threshold for public censure is far lower for women. In 2008, Clinton was mocked for getting teary-eyed on stage during her presidential campaign at the time; women politicians are routinely questioned about the effect their careers have on family time; and research has shown that media coverage focuses on personality traits more than issues.
You're not going to personally experience this double standard unless you're a lady in politics, but it's hard to miss each election season. In fact, it only became more obvious during Clinton's current presidential campaign. If a candidate for the President of the United States is still questioned about calories, you know sexism remains a huge problem.
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