Hell hath no fury like a women scorned. The women of our country had their say this election night. We spoke out. With our votes!
When the polls were closed, the votes tallied, women comprised a whopping 54 percent of the total votes. Women were energized this election, and here's why: We're not ready to move back to the 1950s! We don't want a bunch of male politicians making decisions about our bodies and health. In 12 swing states, 60 percent of registered women rated birth control as extremely/very important to their decision. We also don't want a bunch of white men parsing what is, and what is not, forcible rape. Because we already know the answer: rape is rape!
Women ruled the 2012 election night. We wiped 'em clean! Mourdock lost his Indiana senate race, even as the state overwhelming went for Romney (it was God's will, apparently). Todd Akin got caught in a Missouri landslide, losing to Sen. Claire McCaskill (read: a woman) by 16 points. Paul Ryan not only lost his home state in the presidential race, but his co-sponsoring of forcible rape legislation linked him to Akin and Mourdock, tarred the Romney ticket, and played a major role in Republicans losing the election.
Women's voting power was also a force in making history this election. Elizabeth Warren became the first woman senator in Massachusetts (Romney's state). Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay senator in Wisconsin (Ryan's state). Women reached a record 20 senate seats (that's 20 percent overall, progress!). And New Hampshire become the first state to elect an all female congressional delegation.
The icing on the cake: women were once again the voting block which determined the presidential election (as we have been in every modern day election). Going in, Obama faced a near historic gender gap (men were overwhelming for Romney). Women showed up for Obama, favoring him by 12 points and delivering him the election.
Given women's historic role this election, we must demand that our voices be heard. President Obama had a lukewarm performance on women's issues in his first term (as Nina Burleigh wrote at The Observer, "Let's Face It, Ladies: Obama's Just Not That Into Us"). That's no longer acceptable! For his second term, we must keep the pressure on the president to fulfill these important asks for women:
1. Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, already!
Obama relentlessly campaigned on the issue of equal pay, invoking his mother's struggles and his daughters' opportunities. Now, it's time to deliver! Whatever behind-the-scenes horse-trading is needed in the Senate, Obama must prioritize the passage the Paycheck Fairness Act as one of his first tasks in office. After all, as mothers and daughters, we deserve equal pay for equal work!
2. Gender Representation: Where are the Women, Mr. President?
In his first term, the Obama administration was deservedly nicknamed a 'boys' club.' Not only was the White House described as a hostile workplace by a female staffer, but Obama had few women in his inner circle. This has to change, immediately! His next five senior level, inner-circle appointments (including cabinet) should go to women. Period. Let's start with Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her stellar job as DNC Chair and continue from there. And don't start with the 'best person' b.s. There are a myriad of qualified women for each and every position. This will also set the tone for corporations, where women's representation in leadership has been quietly backsliding in recent years.
3. Violence Against Women Act (and protecting our daughters)
In case the GOP leadership in the House doesn't take the cue from the outcomes for Akin and Mourdock, our president must take leadership and remind them: issues impacting women's health do matter! Passage of the Violence Against Women Act must be a priority. But that alone is not enough. There is a growing and disturbing epidemic of sexual assault against our young women and girls. Last year, to much ballyhoo, VP Biden announced an effort to ensure that schools, colleges and universities protect students from sexual violence. Now, let's enforce it!
4. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Obama's first term was dubbed a 'he-covery' as men gained 768,000 jobs while women lost 218,000. It's make up time, Mr. President. Your administration must take proactive steps to create training and opportunities to get women back into the workforce. Not only are women disproportionately in poverty, but we're also financially responsible for costs of raising the majority of children in this country.
5. Women Running and Overseeing the Economy
In short: it's a sea of men. All four major economic agencies are run by men. Shelia Bair, former Chairwoman of the FDIC stepped down last year and was replaced by a man. Elizabeth Warren created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is run by a man. Mary Schapiro, Chairwoman of the SEC, announced she plans to step down this fall. The next three appointments in senior leadership roles should go to women. We need a much better gender balance running our economy and overseeing our financial system. Studies repeatedly prove this out!
6. Top of the Ticket, 2016
It's a sheer embarrassment that our country ranks 80th in the world in representation of women in government (if you can you believe it, that's down from 78 last year). At 80th, we're tied with such champions of humanitarian rights as Venezuela (I'm sure Hugo Chavez would be proud). We're also one of the last developed countries yet to elect a woman head of state.
Since President Obama has prioritized equality, let's demand gender equality. As the de facto head of the Democratic Party, Obama must champion the imperative that a woman replace him in 2016. There are many well-qualified, but to cite a few obvious: Sec. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But truly, this is a call for both political parties: it's time to run a woman at the top of the ticket. The GOP also has a bench of diverse, capable women.
Let us not forget the words of Susan B. Anthony who fought to get us the right to vote: No Self Respecting Woman Should Wish or Work for the Success of a Party That Ignores Her Sex.
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