What the Hell Does 'The Women's Vote' Even Mean?

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It's impossible to open a magazine or turn on the TV to a channel where haircuts with veneers talk about politics without hearing about Obama/Romney horse race for the Woman Vote. Women like Obama! No, they like Romney! Now Republican women like Romney! Now single women like Obama! How about the black women? Latina college professors who have no children? Elderly Chinese-American women with prosthetic limbs? How about women who are over 30 who still shop at Forever 21? I thought we decided in 2008 that Woman's Vote wasn't a monolith when Sarah Palin's vagina failed to trick women into voting for John McCain. Why are we still pretending that it is?


The latest figures in the race to pull some coherent theory of What Women Want from Politicians from a giant compost pile of competing numbers show that the news is great for Barack Obama. And also for Mitt Romney. And they're also both in trouble. According to a million different polls, stats can be cherry picked to indicate that both candidates have the race all but sewn up in November. Romney's camp was pretty proud of his rapidly rising approval rate among the fairer sex; a poll last week showed that 41% of women find Romney favorable now, compared to 35% earlier this year (but, as The Daily Beast points out, that's largely due to the fact that Republican women are deciding that they don't hate Mitt Romney after all). Meanwhile, fewer women find Barack Obama awesome. We're all one big lady clique of ladies with identical concerns who can be swayed one way or another if only politicians employ effective techniques and tricks. Running for office is sort of like pick up artistry in that way. He's just using you for your big, jiggling votes, ladies!

I hate to sound like That Guy Who Demands a White History Month, but where's the endless hashing and rehashing of data on the men's vote? Are female voters more fickle, more easily manipulated, more willing to listen to campaign commercials featuring a concerned woman's voice saying things like "Where was Barack Obama when Firefly was cancelled? In Hawaii, smoking joints made out of pages of the Holy Bible (citation: The Daily Caller)"? Are men set in their ways while women ebb and flow like the tides and their periods?

Strategists and analysts and general political nerds would undoubtedly like to understand voting patterns, but is it useful to lump an increasingly diverse group into a misshapen mass and try to make heads or tales of their decisions? My personal pet issues are probably much different than a religious mother of 4 living in the suburbs, or a gun-toting female hunting enthusiast in the north woods, or an 85-year-old widow living on Social Security checks.

Saying someone is courting "the women's vote" is like saying someone's courting "the American vote." While we do have certain things in common (usually boobs, neatly tucked away sex organs, two X chromosomes, and chocoholism, but not even those traits are across-the-board), our experiences and beliefs vary so widely (like men's!) that it's kind of absurd to expect our votes to align. We're grown-ass women. Not desperate to fit in teens wearing Silly Bandz and giving blow jobs in the back of the school bus and jumping off a cliff because the popular girls did it.


Image via olly/Shutterstock



Although this kind of makes me want to do a little google-research on how disjointed the "woman's" vote is compared to the "men's" vote - the reason why we care about the "woman/black/latino/young/student/gay/elderly" vote is because, at least as far as traditional media narratives go: Middle-aged, straight, white men are the default and the norm against everyone else is measured. Anything that keeps from fitting into that demographic is your otherness, and makes you something so very, very interesting to the media, ripe for a story or a survey.