Susan Sarandon doesn't vote with her vagina? Well, bless her heart, we were hoping that she'd be voting with her brain. Sarandon recently stated that she wouldn't be voting for Christine Quinn -- the sole woman running for mayor in the upcoming New York City election -- because "you can't just vote your vagina."
So what's with all this talk of vaginas and Christine Quinn running for mayor anyway? What is it about the prospect of a vagina possibly sitting in the seat of power that has so many people -- even people with vaginas themselves -- all worked up?
For the record, Susan Sarandon actually does seem to think vaginas are an important fact to consider when voting. She feels quite strongly when attacking "right-wing" Republicans who infringe on abortion rights and other reproductive freedoms. And speaking of reproduction, it makes you think that Sarandon may have some opinions about penises too, but strangely enough we never hear the word penis when we're talking about John Liu, or Bill Thompson or Bill de Blasio running for mayor.
I mean, you don't hear men saying, "I'm not voting with my penis," when they criticize candidate Bill de Blasio's weak record of creating affordable housing in Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards area. And I've yet to hear a man say, "I'm not voting with my penis" when he reviews the New York City pension funds' anemic performance under candidate Bill Thompson's stewardship as Comptroller. Nor have I heard men say heatedly, "This has nothing to do with my penis!" when contemplating candidate John Liu's woes with federal prosecutors. We've all heard -- and heard, and heard and heard and even unfortunately seen a bit -- about candidate Anthony Weiner's penis, but that's another story.
So why is there no discussion about penises when we're talking about the other candidates? Perhaps because it seems unseemly, inappropriate, invasive, and -- guess what? -- totally beside the point when considering a male candidate's skills for the job.
By contrast, some seem to feel that opining about vaginas, theirs and by inference Christine Quinn's, is perfectly OK. In fact, sometimes quite explicitly, as in the case of former Bill de Blasio staffer Anthony Baker whose response to a pro-choice policy statement by Quinn was to tweet, "No one wants to touché your vagina, Speaker."
Those of us with vaginas of our own have enough to worry about what with this pesky income inequality issue, indestructible glass ceiling problem, and one-divorce-away from a considerable fall from economic grace to worry about. Not to mention lack of affordable health care, lack of affordable and accessible child care, restrictions on reproductive freedoms, fights over whether birth control is still worth funding, and inadequate research and funding for female-specific diseases like ovarian and cervical cancer.
So again let's ask, why is it OK for a vagina to be a point of reference in the New York City mayor's race? It's not just Susan Sarandon talking about hers at a Bill de Blasio endorsement, or de Blasio's ex-staffer sending out unpleasant and graphic tweets about his opponent's vagina, but also Cynthia Nixon, who talked about her vagina as the basis of her support for Bill de Blasio at a fundraiser in June: What's with all the "vagina talk" by de Blasio supporters?
Well, here's what I think. I think when people talk about vaginas, what they're really trying to say is Christine Quinn is a woman! Maybe what they're trying to say is that a woman running for a very serious office isn't a good thing? No! Sarandon, Nixon and their acolytes are all very big feminists. Sarandon and Nixon believe in women, they believe in women's rights -- they just don't believe in this particular woman.
But even if Sarandon and Nixon don't believe in this particular woman, why are they attacking her for being a woman? That's the part I don't understand. I mean, doesn't Christine Quinn have a right to run for mayor despite the obvious hindrance of possessing a vagina? I thought we'd gotten past all of that -- haven't we?
I know the stats don't look good for us. No female mayor in New York since... ever. No female governor either, come to think of it. Only 78 out 435 Members of Congress -- a paltry 18 percent. And only 20 out of 100 Senators are women -- a whopping 20 percent. And of course, the country's never elected a woman president or vice president -- at least, as we like to say -- yet. A trifle underrepresented given that we're over 50 percent of the population. So maybe we haven't quite gotten past this gender inequity thing -- yet.
One thing I know for sure: Chris Quinn is not saying, "Vote for me because I have a vagina."
What Chris Quinn is actually saying is this: I'm running on my record of 12 years in the City Council, eight of those as Speaker, championing the middle-class, balancing eight City budgets, saving city libraries from closure, expanding public schools to guarantee kindergarten for every child, saving 4,100 teaching positions, passing Manny's Law, preventing firehouse closures in 20 neighborhoods, bringing new tech jobs to the city, salvaging New York's crumbling housing, working as a tenant advocate and as the head of an anti-violence organization. Yes, Quinn has a very strong record on women's and LGBT rights. And yes, Quinn is proud to run as a woman, just like she's proud to run as an openly gay person -- she's a person of integrity who knows who she is and doesn't try to hide it.
But Quinn's not running just because she's a woman, and she's not running just because she's gay. She's running because she's a person, a person with a brain, a heart and a great record. A person who knows that being a woman and a lesbian is part of who she is, not the definition of who she is. Because the last time I checked, that's what our aspiration for equality in this great country and this great City is all about: the best person gets the job, regardless of their gender or who they love.
She's running because she's Christine Quinn and she's going to be the best mayor New York has ever seen. Primary Day is September 10, 2013.
Follow Rachel Lavine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RachelLavine2