Women in Election 2012: How We Can Go Beyond Binders

Happy Friday!

Once again, it's time for your weekly update on the interwebs and the womenfolk.

After the second presidential debate on Tuesday, women in binders dominated the discussion of gender in election 2012. At the New York Times, Ross Douthat argues that partisan politics obscured the important issues at hand in Romney's remarks on workplace equality (and gives a huge shout-out to Ann Friedman!). While I don't totally agree with his analysis, his point that what we should be focusing on Romney's actual policies in the meme-tastic gaffe  is spot-on. 

Still, some of the memes are pretty great. 

At Fem2.0, Katherine Mullen, Jeffrey C. Lullen, and Rachel Piazza, the founders of Feminist Friends, argue that feminists must reframe the reproductive rights debate.

"Reproductive health and rights can not be separated from economic security, education, political representation and healthy families and communities. A woman’s 'choice' goes beyond the decision to end a pregnancy. Her life choices regarding her fertility and reproductive capabilities are made within, and often determined by, the contexts of her life. As women’s rights advocates, we have a responsibility to re-define and broaden the discourse that dismembers women. We must reclaim women as whole persons who struggle not only for access to reproductive health, but as people who fight for economic, political and social rights."

It's a framing tactic that Obama used in the debate, much to my joy.

Still, many continue to advocate for reproductive rights without connecting them explicitly to economic issues for all, especially when trying to pitch to women voters. MoveOn.org, for instance, fails to "reclaim women as whole persons" in the following ad.


Bringing together reproductive rights issues with a spate of other issues, including economic issues, is crucial in understanding how these policies extend beyond men and women's "personal" sexual lives into their "professional" lives. Hopefully, Obama will continue the trend he has started when it comes to the inter-related nature of "women's issues" in the final debate on Monday night.

We'll see.

In other election news, Flyover Feminism is featuring a series of feminist-oriented blog posts called "Voices on Voting." In Minnesota, a state whose ballot includes a vote to ban same-sex marriage, Collen Palmer writes movingly about voting while queer

"I don’t want to be a single-issue voter, but this is not a hypothetical issue for me, just like reproductive rights are not a hypothetical issue for many people who have a uterus. I can’t make this election not “all about me,” because my legislature forced the issue when they put my life on the ballot ... But I dread the day after more. Because regardless of the outcome, my neighbors, friends, and acquaintances have been forced to make their votes all about me, too."

E.J. Graff also addresses voting at the American Prospect, tackling the issues that trans people face in voting. 

"Until NCTE launched its 'Voting While Trans' initiative, it had never occurred to me that there’s no need to list voters as either male or female. The 19th amendment is nearly 100 years old; I’m pretty sure that I have a right to vote whether 'E.J. Graff' is male or female. At the polls, the only info that matters is whether I’ve registered to vote and whether I live at the qualifying address. Why identify my sex? Would I get a different ballot? But ID, Keisling was explaining to me, can be one of the central hardships for transpeople, whose presentation and legal identification may not match." 


One last election-related item, addressing the new spate of articles about how women will be the deciding factor in this election: duh.

McSweeney's River Clegg agrees

"Q: What issues do female voters find important?
A: Standard things (economic recovery, national security), but also female things (health care, education).

Q: I don’t understand the distinction.
A: It’s hard to explain. The second category just seems more girlish. Hollywood may be to blame."

And, to round out an election-heavy week, a great article on the women of Poetry magazine.

"[Harriet] Monroe is the most celebrated woman of Poetry magazine — and arguably its most important editor — though many women helped to edit Poetry both in Monroe’s time and throughout the magazine’s 100-year history. They include Monroe’s indispensible first assistant, Alice Corbin Henderson; writer and war correspondent Eunice Tietjens; poets Jessica Nelson North and Marion Strobel; and Margaret Danner, a highly successful African American poet who worked with Karl Shapiro and Henry Rago in the 1950s and 1960s. Like Monroe, these women navigated a larger literary culture dominated by men."

Join me on Monday for more feminist GIF fun during the final presidential debate, and leave your favorite links for the week below!