Romney’s condescending attitude toward women was bad enough last night, but what really got me was listening to male pundits discuss how women voters were no doubt put off by the “petty” bickering of the two candidates. Just two weeks ago, they were telling us that Romney won over female voters by being an alpha male, but suddenly when the President engages in the fight, it’s off-putting to us, according to them.
I wasn’t focused on how they spoke to each other, though petty is not a word I would use for a fight that the media brought on with their two week “weak” “passive” beating of Obama. I was too busy thinking about how Romney wouldn’t answer the question on gun control (neither candidate wanted to go near that one) and how he so easily slipped into blaming single mothers for the problem of gun violence. I was stunned by his comments about women in binders — he clearly assumes that women are so dumb they won’t hear what he didn’t say about his actual policy of not supporting equal pay. And I felt nothing but solidarity with Candy Crowley when he attempted to shame and belittle her for doing her job.
So, no. I wasn’t thinking about how “petty” it was for the two candidates to be fighting it out – that is what the media demanded. They wanted good TV and they got it. Some of us were actually listening to the policies in the first debate and were none too impressed with Mitt Romney’s bully routine, but the media wanted bully boys – they made that clear when they crowned Romney, who brayed and lied his way through the entire debate – the “winner”. This, in and of itself, reeks of patriarchal values — and they can’t even see it.
Less concerned with a boxing match to appease the media’s need for ratings through election season or how impressed they are by regressive alpha male behavior, I was worried about my friends who are single mothers. I was thinking about what my best friend would do without Planned Parenthood for her cervical cancer screening. I was imagining being one of those women in a binder and wondering how Romney treated the women who worked for him. I was thinking I would not want to work for that man. And then I thought I don’t want that man to work for me, represent me.
Having male pundits discuss women voters was the last insult of the night, after Romney dragged us back to the cave with his binders and not even being for the right of women to fight back when they find out they are being paid less for the same job. He wants us kept as pets dependent upon a male provider.
Some of us don’t want to marry a man for security. Some of us want to be independent because we like it that way (and no, it’s not because we can’t get a man as the Right likes to gloat). Others of us have children depending on our paycheck and others have a spouse depending on our paycheck. How can he be alive in these times and be unaware of these facts and how can women be undecided?
Oh, that’s right — because our media has not informed them. They are still unsure who supports equal pay and birth control, as if the media doesn’t have a record on these matters with which to inform the voters. Why do that when Fight Club can be had? It’s easy to focus on the Big Show when your rights – your actual life, in fact – aren’t at risk.
What in the heck is going on in this country — why is someone who believes what Mitt Romney does about women anywhere near the White House and who are these male pundits who think that they can speak for women voters and yet when they do, always seem to manage to use us to tout what serves their media outlet best instead of really hearing us?
The only people who stood up for women last night were Candy Crowley with her refusal to be bullied by either candidate and President Obama refusing to let Romney force him into throwing Hillary Clinton under the bus. Romney just assumed that Obama would do as he would have done, and toss Clinton to the wolves to save his own skin, but instead Obama took responsibility as the President. That’s the same kind of behavior that would lead to a man taking responsibility for other things in his life, like his children. It’s ironic, no? The family values candidate doesn’t actually value the things that make a family work in modern culture. And of course there’s the little fact that President Obama’s actual policies and his administration are the most supportive of women in history.
But I’m told that we women voters don’t care about stuff like that. We wanted a fight last time and since Obama wasn’t a bully, we didn’t like him anymore and this time we thought their fight was too petty. Our silly little brains just can’t see through the Big Show that the boys love so much – with all male candidates and mostly male pundits discussing what we think and what we want, and few actually listening to us. Shhh, girls, you’re just here to cheer. (Kudos to Candy for not playing that game.)
Only someone who didn’t have to worry about a Romney administration telling them that they are not entitled to fight back for equal pay and may be told to carry a child to term that could kill them would be able to skip over these rather pertinent matters in order to focus on style, yet again.
Politics, like Hollywood (the media), is a man’s game, mostly filled with men or women who go along with the men in order to gain respect and be seen as focused on the “right” things. It’s never cool to write about how women are being treated like dolls or to point out what the beltway doesn’t want to hear about how utterly clueless they can be about the reality of women’s lives. Even on the left, we are often told what’s really important and it’s not women’s issues. A young woman expressed this perfectly in a focus group last night after being asked about Romney’s position on equal pay, “Well, I guess we’ll just focus on that after we get jobs.” I’d laugh if it weren’t so surreal. Jobs for women then are unrelated to what they actually pay.
Will someone please wake me up from this nightmare and tell me that it was all a very bad joke.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.