As pundits proclaim that Republicans are poised to possess both houses of Congress this mid-term election I'm both mystified and alarmed. Why would women -- who were the determining factor in the 2012 presidential elections -- give so much power to a party that has such a miserly relationship with us? Maybe we're falling into that same self-defeating pattern of He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys.
For those women who plan to opt out of this mid-term election or just stay home -- where many candidates believe we really belong -- for those voting a Republican Party into control of Congress, please consider these lessons from author Greg Behrendt's bestseller:
"Life is hard enough as it is without choosing someone difficult to share it with."
As The New York Times points out in its editorial, "The Campaign Against Women," Republicans have repeatedly made life very difficult for women. Why would we want to share our lives with a party well-known for its "War on Women?" Google any voting records of Republicans now giddily preparing to "sweep the Senate" and you'll be appalled at their complete disregard for our voices and our struggles.
A Politics USA article, "The United States of Misogyny" cites exhaustive evidence into the dismal voting records of Republicans on women's issues. In lock-step, Republicans voted against equal wages for women, against raising the minimum wage, against reproductive and abortion rights, against federal pay for Planned Parenthood, against voting rights, against background checks on gun sales, against any action on climate change. One wonders what in the world they've voted for?
"When it comes to men, deal with them as they are, not how you'd like them to be."
Here's the reality of a Republican controlled Congress: We risk a future Supreme Court already dominated by judges who chose Hobby Lobby over women's right to privacy and reproductive rights. We risk losing even more access to contraceptives, health care, education, environmental regulations, gun control, and fair wages. The bosses will again be, well, our bosses. And forget breaking the Glass Ceiling: In a Republican sweep, we'll be trying to gain entrance into a glass fortress.
Aren't we weary of husbands, bosses, and privileged white judges or politicians who seem tone-deaf to our concerns? In this mid-term election, Republicans have toned down the Tea Party loudmouths of 2012. This new crop of stealth Republican candidates talk like moderates, but are really hard-core Far Right. For example, Iowa's Joni Ernst downplays her record of supporting a "personhood amendment" and her NRA speech promising to defend herself, even against the government. Republicans have actually made surprising progress in this "potted plant" political strategy: After the abuse, deliver a nice potted plant on the porch and ask the woman to again open the door.
"Don't be flattered that he misses you . . . Remember, the only reason he can miss you is because he's choosing, every day, not to be with you."
Realizing they had a big gender gap, Republicans have tried to soften their anti-women image, while doing nothing at all to legislate or take the lead for us. The big question we must ask Republicans who've been sorely missing our women's vote is: What has this Republican Party done FOR women's daily struggles to survive and nurture the next generation?
If women, who traditionally vote more than men, don't make their strong voices heard this election, we'll take a giant step backwards on all the issues that matter: children, health care, work, and our environment. We'll cede power, once again, to men. Why would we perpetuate this patriarchy when it has so dismissed and defeated us? Remember that all-white male panel on birth control, which ABC news said was "like stepping back into a time machine?" Well, be prepared for the 1950s -- again.
"Big plans require big action"
The Republican Party has proven that their Big Plans offer no action on issues women cherish -- like making sure our kids can go to college; or if they do, the students don't drown in credit card debt while seeking non-existent jobs? What bills have Republicans put forth for health care, for making sure our air and water is clean for next generations? What exactly are the Republican Party's big plans, except dismantling health care and giving corporations more power than people?
"He doesn't need to be reminded you're great."
A clue to why women might actually continue to support the patriarchy this election is in what I've observed over many years in my writing students. When men write memoir or fiction, they firmly locate themselves in history: a war, a political system, a workplace, a history. His-story. But when my women students recreate their life stories on the page, I almost always have to scribble in the margins: "Where are you in time, space, politics, history?" In other words, what is her-story? Someone once wrote, "History is a fugitive from the camp of the victor." Women have not been victors, so we are not writing the history -- yet.
"Remember always what you set out to get, and please don't settle for less."
A vote is a voice. Voting is not settling for less. Voting is the only time women are truly equal to men. Make your voices heard. Don't settle for a Republican Party that has not earned our trust or or vital vote. Tell any candidate who does not have a strong voting record of strong support for women -- we're just not that into you.
Brenda Peterson is the author of 18 books, including the memoir, I Want to Be Left Behind, selected as a "Top Ten Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year" by The Christian Science Monitor. Her new book is Your Life is a Book: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir. For more: www.BrendaPetersonBooks.com