Women Are Fickle and Biased. They Don’t Deserve to Vote!

Jodi Jacobson

This week's newest off-the-wall right-wing assertion comes to us courtesy of Thomas Mitchell, editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Mr. Mitchell, you see, thinks women are too dumb and too biased to vote.  His helpful suggestion? Repeal the 19th amendment. That's right.  The one that gave us gals the right to vote.

This week’s newest off-the-wall right-wing assertion comes to us courtesy of Thomas Mitchell, editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Mr. Mitchell, you see, thinks women are too dumb and too biased to vote. 

His helpful suggestion?

Repeal the 19th amendment. 

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People and candidates for public office should be judged on the basis of their ideas, stance on the issues, character, experience and integrity, not on the basis of age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability.

Therefore, we must repeal the 19th Amendment. Yes, the one granting suffrage to women. Because? Well, women are biased.

Here is the basis of Mr. Mitchell’s reasoning on this one.  (If you can’t follow it or don’t agree with him, you must, of course, be a woman.)

According to polls released last week, the majority of women voters in Nevada prefer Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in that state’s Senate race.  Men on the other hand, according to Mr. Mitchell (this is shocking so be prepared):

favored the attractive former beauty queen Sue Lowden over the graying Harry Reid by 22 points, while women shunned their gender mate, choosing Reid by a 2-point margin. Which proves women favor Democrats.

Mr. Mitchell continues:

In a head-to-head match among Reid, Lowden and Tea Party pretender Scott Ashjian, the men favored Lowden by 19 points over Reid and women picked Reid by a 3-point margin. Ashjian was in single digits.

Yes?  And…?  There has long been a “gender divide” in politics, something I am sure Mr. Mitchell in his far superior male wisdom must know.  In fact, I am sure I must have been told this by a man, because as a woman how else would I come by such information?

That divide arises out of the fact that, generally speaking, women perceive the Democratic party to be more concerned than Republicans about the health and well-being of families, health care, reproductive health, the environment, the poor and a lot of other issues with which we constantly trouble our silly little heads.  And clearly women in Nevada favor Mr. Reid for reasons that go beyond the mere sex of the candidate.  And here I thought that might indicate complex thinking!

But Mr. Mitchell has deduced that if women favor Democrats, they are biased. If men favor a Republican beauty queen (according to the descriptors used by Mr. Mitchell) they, of course, are not biased.  But by what motivation are men driven, in Mr. Mitchell’s theory? Looks and glamour only?  Surely not!

(For the record, Ms. Lowden also has been philanthropist, a former State Senator and chair of the state Republican Party, though in his unbiased assessment of women, Mr. Mitchell failed to mention any of these attributes.)

Mr. Mitchell takes it a step further.  The fact that women consistently favor Senator Reid is biased while the fact that men consistently favor any Republican candidate means they are consistent.

At least that is what Mr. Mitchell says:

[C]hange the Republican option from Lowden to former basketball star Danny Tarkanian and it is a different tale. Men still favored the Republican by 16 points and doubled their support by Ashjian to 15 points. Women, on the other hand, chose Reid by 16 points, proving they’d rather vote for a woman than a male Republican.

Men, concludes Mr. Mitchell, “are consistent. Women are fickle and biased.”

To prove his argument, he points to the fact that in the 3rd Congressional District race pitting Republican Dr. Joe Heck against Democratic incumbent Dina Titus, men went with Heck 58-36, while women leaned toward Titus 52-40.

Wow, we gals sure are fickle.

And not so smart, I guess.  I thought the meaning of fickle was “to be marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability;  given to erratic changeableness.”  I will have to look the term up in Mr. Mitchell’s old west version of the dictionary because Merriam-Webster surely is out-of-date.  Surely women being so consistently pro-Democrat and for Senator Reid must be fickle in a different universe than all those men who are consistently for one party, no matter which candidate.

And now I realize that that the “you-don’t-agree-with-me therefore-you-don’t-deserve-basic-rights” rhetoric of the far right, of anti-choicers and of others must be the exact right way to think, rather than just incredibly shallow circular reasoning.  After all, if we just agreed with all those people we wouldn’t be fickle and biased.

And really, if you think about it, repealing the 19th Amendment would help a whole lot of things, like making it easier for Congress, the states, the media, and the far right to run roughshod over women’s bodies with nary a complaint. 

I never thought of it that way.

Maybe we don’t deserve the right to vote after all.

News Politics

To Avoid Campus Sexual Assault, Kasich Suggests, Don’t Go to Parties With a Lot of Alcohol

Ally Boguhn

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) told a young woman at a town hall event in New York who was worried about sexual violence on campus that she should avoid attending parties with excessive alcohol.

At a town hall event in New York, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) told a young woman who was worried about sexual violence on campus that she should avoid attending parties with excessive alcohol.

“Being that I am a young female college student, what are you going to do in office as president to help me feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment, and rape?” the first-year student at St. Lawrence University asked the Republican presidential candidate on Friday.

Kasich replied that in Ohio, “we think that when you enroll you ought to absolutely know” how to report sexual harassment “or whatever” confidentially, access a rape kit, and “pursue justice after you’ve had some time to reflect on it all.” Adding that similar rules should be applied nationwide, he continued that he has “two 16-year-old daughters, and I don’t even like to think about it.”

“It’s sad, but it’s something that I have to worry about,” the student noted.

“I’d also give you one bit of advice. Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol. OK? Don’t do that,” Kasich responded.

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After the town hall, Kasich’s campaign tweeted“Only one person is at fault in a sexual assault, and that’s the assailant.”

Victims needs [sic] to know we’re doing everything we can to have their backs, and that’s happening in Ohio under John Kasich’s leadership,” said another tweet from the campaign.

However, Kasich’s comments had already begun to garner criticism from those who felt he was placing the responsibility for stopping sexual violence on the victims.

“Let me say this simply, so that the governor can understand—rape victims are not responsible for rape. It’s on all of us—men and women—to address campus sexual assault,” Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis said in a statementaccording to Cincinnati.com.

Others argued that Kasich’s statement was reflective of his past record on reproductive rights and women’s health.

“John Kasich’s plan for combating sexual assault as president is to blame women who go to parties. John Kasich’s pattern of dismissing the concerns of women is disturbing enough,” said Dawn Laguens, vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF), in a statement. PPAF has already endorsed Clinton for the presidency. 

“As Governor, John Kasich has implemented policies that reflect his disregard for women, enacting 18 measures that restrict women’s access to reproductive health care while nearly half the abortion providers in his state closed their doors. He eliminated domestic violence prevention and a healthy moms and healthy babies program, simply because they were provided by Planned Parenthood. A John Kasich presidency would punish women. We can’t let his dangerous agenda into the White House,” continued Laguens.

As ThinkProgress’ Alice Ollstein explained, not only did Kasich’s so-called advice seem to blame the victim, it “also perpetuates the disproved myth that there is a direct link between alcohol consumption and rape. In fact, incidents of rape have been declining since 1979, while binge drinking has been steadily rising during the same time period. While alcohol is present in about half of all sexual assaults, it’s also present in about that same percentage of all violent crimes.” 

At least one in four undergraduate women are sexually assaulted during their time on campus, according to a September 2015 survey conducted by the Association of American Universities.

Kasich similarly pitched the merits of confidential reporting of campus sexual violence during a February town hall event hosted by CNN, where he promised, if elected, to “use a bully pulpit” to “speak out” on the topic and push “legislatures to begin to pay attention to these issues.”

The Ohio governor’s state budget for fiscal year 2016 also included $2 million to prevent and respond to campus sexual assault. In October, the Ohio Department of Higher Education launched an initiative to “prevent and better respond to incidents of sexual violence” on all of the state’s college campuses using the money allocated by the budget.

However, Kasich’s 2013 budget contained a “gag rule” provision blocking funding for rape crisis centers that provide information about abortion. Among the other anti-choice provisions included in the budget was a mandate on ultrasounds for abortions and the reallocation of Planned Parenthood funds to crisis pregnancy centers, which regularly lie to patients in order to persuade them not to have an abortion.

Culture & Conversation Media

How Romance Novels ‘Imagine a World in Which Women Can Win’

Eleanor J. Bader

In these books, one writer argues in a documentary about the genre, women "get rewarded for going after what you want. You can have sex without dying."

In the industry, the romance novels read by approximately 75 million people a year are referred to as HEAs, or “Happily Ever Afters.” Romance Writers of America reports that these books represent big business: over $1 billion in sales in 2013 alone.

The 37-year-old trade association further notes that 82 percent of romance readers are female. The books span a multiplicity of romantic genres, from suspense to steampunk, from Christian themes to the paranormal. All, however, predictably end on a high note: the HEA.

“Women have adopted the Happily Ever After ending for a reason,” Deborah Chappel Traylor, associate professor of English at Arkansas State University, says in Love Between the Covers, an upbeat documentary about the women who write and read romantic fiction. The reason, she says, is simple: Such endings help women “imagine a world in which women can win and in which their views are front and center.”

The film is persuasive, and likely to make viewers who’ve never paid attention to the genre take a second look, and perhaps buy a romance novel. Love Between the Covers, by featuring the work of writers who introduce characters of color, LGBTQ characters, and strong, stable female characters, made me reconsider my knee-jerk assumptions about these books and the people who read them.

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The 84-minute documentary zeroes in on five published and one as-yet-unpublished novelist, several publishing company executives, and readers. All sing the praises of romance writing and theorize about why the field has been treated with disdain by both scholars and the literary establishment. The film calls out the sexism that has labeled romance writing frivolous, and lambasts the idea that romance writing is unworthy of sustained attention. The film argues that the genre gives readers female characters to root for, admire, and emulate—and that’s valuable. 

Take it from bestselling writer Jennifer Crusie, the pseudonym of author Jennifer Smith, who nails the anti-woman bias of critics, noting that because most romance novels present women as assertive and determined, they deviate from the so-called traditional literary canon. In The Scarlet Letter, for instance, the narrative offers an unmistakable message: Something awful lies in wait for unmarried, sexually active women. Romance novels suggest the opposite, Crusie argues. “In romance fiction you get rewarded for going after what you want. You can have sex without dying,” she says.

Popular notions of love and commitment are also upended in virtually every type of romance, popular writer Nora Roberts adds. “Romeo and Juliet is not a romance,” she says. “It’s about two stupid teenagers who commit suicide.”

So what, then, is a romance?

Abby Zidle, senior editor at Pocket Books, tells director Laurie Kahn that “the story we’re looking for is one that says, ‘You deserve to have your desires—whether they’re for career, love, or sex—validated.’”

As the film presents it, secular romance novels emphasize female entitlement, not only to feelings but to a sense of self. (The film does not discuss Christian romance novels, which avoid any reference to out-of-wedlock or premarital sex—a gap in an otherwise comprehensive overview of the genre.)

Writer Beverly Jenkins reports that when she first began writing historical fiction featuring Black characters more than 20 years ago, having a woman of color as victor was unheard of, so she created one. “I am not looking to create a stupid heroine,” she says. “I’m looking for a woman who has her shit together already. The man is the cherry on top.”   

And Lenora ‘Len’ Barot, who writes under the name Radclyffe, introduces savvy, creative lesbians to her readers. Barot got her literary start while she was a medical student in Philadelphia, and published her first full-length manuscript during her residency. Now, along with her partner Lee Ligon, Barot runs Bold Strokes Books; the company has published the work of more than 120 LGBTQ authors.

“For those of us who once lived in the shadows, it’s so great to have these books,” she says in the film. As a teenager, Barot says that she read The Well of Loneliness, a 1928 novel in which the lesbian protagonist commits suicide. Other lesbian pulp fiction, she continues, was similarly depressing, making it seem as if lesbians and gay men were doomed to miserable, solitary lives. In college she discovered Naiad Press, one of the first publishers offering positive lesbian literature. Finding characters she could relate to was life-changing for Barot.

Indeed, both she and Jenkins assert that literary representation is important in affirming individual identities and helping people imagine varied possibilities and options. That’s why they write about relationships and tell romantic stories.

One of the most interesting things about Love Between the Covers is its examination of the romance literature communities that have developed on- and offline. Readers give one another support, and writers—including Roberts, Mary Bly (who writes as Eloisa James), and Jayne Ann Krentz—use chatrooms to give aspiring writers feedback, advice, and encouragement. Bly’s personal assistant, Kim Costello, says in the film that she creates blogs for six separate authors but emphasizes that they are colleagues, not competitors. “We talk about husbands, recipes, our kids, as well as books,” she says. It’s a heartwarming sisterhood of the highest order.

As for the books themselves, Costello in the film credits romance novels with teaching her about dating and suggesting alternative paths. Among the lessons, the married mother explains, is that she did not “need to meet men in bars” or “date her boss” if those options didn’t interest her, but could instead hold out for Mr. Right.

Romance fiction, regardless of category, is undeniably formulaickeep in mind the requisite HEA ending—and the most popular writers churn out an astonishing two or three new works a year. But those who consider romantic fiction silly or inane are simply wrong, Costello says with a shrug.

Indeed, aren’t we all just hoping for our own Happily Ever After?