Sisterhood Blog

Swinging for Women

By Sarah Seltzer

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images

Last night’s Foreign Policy debate was all about swing — the candidates taking final swings at each other and aiming for the hearts and minds of swing voters. And conventional polling wisdom tells us who the most important “swing voters” are, particularly for the President: that’s right, the women.

David Gergen wrote about it at CNN:

For President Obama, this is a major opportunity to hone in on the group that may be most important to his election: women. As pointed out by Ron Brownstein, one of the nation’s best students of the interplay of politics and demography, Obama can win the election if he wins over more college-educated women in the Southeast and more non-college educated women in the upper Midwest. He has already made strong inroads with both, but needs a little more heft.

Obama’s best way to do that is to convince women that he will not only protect our security but he will keep us out of war. He has argued in the past that he is doing just that by getting bin Laden and by extracting the U.S. from Iraq and Afghanistan.

There’s a reason for that: Nate Silver noted this week that a particularly pronounced “gender gap” has emerged this year: “if only women voted, President Obama would be on track for a landslide re-election [but] if only men voted, Mr. Obama would be biding his time until a crushing defeat at the hands of Mitt Romney.”

I think, and the pundits seem to agree, that the President — despite an able performance from Romney — was successful at projecting an image of strength and intelligence, presenting his opponent as out of touch, and leaving a little something for the ladies. At Salon, Irin Carmon counted nine references to women from Obama and noted that every time the candidates used people as examples in their anecdotes, those people were bound to be female.

But beyond the night’s gendered pandering, it felt at times (as all such discussions do these days) like a very narrowly-focused chest-thumping contest. In foreign policy tone and focus, there remains little daylight between the two parties. Both stances are disappointing, in my view: imperialist fans of drones, enemies of “bad guys,” into global democracy except in places like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that are oil-rich allies, foes of Iran, and best buddies — enablers, in my view — to Israel.

Where was climate change, the biggest threat to global stability? We missed immigration, too, not to mention almost anything relating to parts of the world the U.S. is not actively bombing or occupying, plus global health — particularly health for women. I would love to have seen them scrapping over whether or not condoms are necessary to stop the spread of AIDS.

Overall, there was a distinct lack of discussion of things like “care” “aid” and “peace.” I don’t believe such values are inherently feminine — they are equally distributed among all of us, as are belligerence and ambition. But because they’ve been feminized by our society, we can’t seem to allow our leaders discuss them without seeming weak. Feminism’s work won’t be done until the candidates can get up there and talk about global care without worrying that it compromises their images.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: women, the jewish vote 2 2012, sisterhood, mitt romney, obama, election 2012, barack obama

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.