Women were given the right to vote in America 90 years ago last month, when the 19th Amendment became law. And yet still, female voters are treated as some exotic, monolithic voter group, indicating that females still have a long way to go politically.
Political analysts commonly ponder the impact of the “women’s vote,” curiously choosing females as the gender whose behavior is driven by their reproductive organs. Lumped with various ethnic or racial groups, women, despite being more than half the population, the strong majority of voters (nearly 10 million more women turned out to vote in 2008 than men, according to the Center for the American Woman and Politics at Rutgers University) and the vast majority of Democratic primary voters, still face an early 20th century problem, being treated like a minority interest group.
The writer Alice Duer Miller in 1915 spoofed the notion of women being a bad bet as voters, suggesting some reason men might not be permitted to cast ballot:
- Because man's place is in the army;
- Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it;
- Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them;
- Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms, and drums;
- Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.
This year’s crop of female candidates includes such disparate contenders as a former wrestling executive, a veteran liberal California feminist, a pro-gun centrist upstate New York Democrat, a tough-on-crime former state attorney general, and an upstart Delaware contender who is on an anti-sex mission. Surely there’s enough diversity there to abandon the patronizing notion of a “women’s vote.”