What Women Want: Political Representation

This election year, many candidates selected “women-centric” issues to attack, criticize and identify other candidates. In The New York Times, it was reported that commentators in Colorado nicknamed Democrat Mark Udall “Mark Uterus” because of his emphasis on women’s reproductive rights. The College Republican National Committee created online ads in which females choose wedding dresses named after Republican candidates. While this idea initially sounded like a strong way to call attention to the women in the room (can I get a general hand raise and woot woot?) it also seemed like a cheap attempt at winning some votes rather than taking women’s rights seriously. To put it in slang terms, these guys were “try-hards” – and yet, it worked. Now that Republicans have succeeded in controlling both the House and the Senate, perhaps they will continue these artificial tactics in succeeding the majority vote for the presidential election in 2016.

Mr. Udall’s supposed passion for reproductive rights came off as obligatory rather than by choice, which made his repetition of reproductive rights overwhelmingly fake. It seems Udall had this passion so he could please a large percentage of his potential voters. After repeatedly mentioning rights for reproduction, however, these chants starts to appear distasteful.

You know that person in a room who accidentally projects a bit of word vomit and spends the rest of the night unnecessarily covering it up? This is Mark Udall. Let’s compare that scenario to what Mark Udall did in his campaign. He initially slips in his word vomit in the form of a plea for women’s reproductive rights. However, he continues to proclaim these demands for reproductive rights for the rest of the night, otherwise known as the unnecessary cover up — I’d be thinking, “All right. We get it.”

It seems a little forced at this point, and he’s certainly made his point. Is he trying too hard to the point where it is fake? How do we know the genuineness of this proposal after it’s called to our attention more than necessary? Overall, it seems a bit excessive and to me, begins to reversibly seem forced rather than passionate and straightforward.

The campaign ads from the College Republican National Committee flat out disgust me. Of all ways to promote the importance of women in elections, you choose something so specific to women – wedding dresses – something that men don’t participate in. This indirectly creates a gender discrepancy in your ads. Although women’s reproductive rights should cater to women, men are also a part of women’s rights in that they should be working toward the equality of men and women together in their communities. The College Republican National Committee instead separates women’s rights into two categories: women and men, the former of whom is reduced to “wedding dress problems.”

We wanted to be taken seriously in this election. We want our rights and we want to be treated as equals. Instead, the College Republicans chose a feminine and outlandish way to entice women to vote. Somehow, our way of choosing candidates is comparable to choosing a dress. Trust me, we take our elections seriously too. It’s not a matter of picking out a wedding dress, however serious that matter may be to some of us. Overall, the campaign ad comes off as belittling to women.

I find it extremely important to address topics and concerns that involve women in electoral campaigns. They are issues that concern a large percentage of the voting population. According to the National Women’s Political Caucus, female voters have outnumbered male voters in every presidential election since 1964. However, when these issues are so forcefully brought to attention by the candidates, it comes off as distasteful and ingenuine. Some may say that by doing this, women’s rights are treated as just any other candidates’ mantras and main issues at focus.

Because of the outlandish ways that women’s rights have been addressed during this midterm election, I’m concluding that women still aren’t being taken seriously in this election. Rather, they come off as cheap attempts at trying to win some votes, not sincere declarations that women and their reproductive rights are going to be taken seriously after election.

Katrina Yentch is a fourth-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at kyentch@uci.edu.