Thursday, November 6, 2008

Demographics, WOO

I know! I am crazy with the numbers lately! This is because I have no idea how statistics are compiled, and therefore see in numbers a certain reassuring purity that rhetoric cannot provide. I mean, I'm sure they are just as skewed as everything else, but I would prefer it if you did not tell me about that. (Also, given the fact that I mistook Indiana for Illinois at one point on election night - I know, and I really do know where they are, I just saw a longish pointy contextless state from afar and I went for it - I am kind of thinking that "shapes" might not be my thing.) So, anyway, this article is very useful when you are thinking about the intersectionality of oppressions, and ladies in general, and the power of your vote.

Because it turns out that women's votes are totally important in choosing who the president will be! This is true all the time, but this year everybody seems to be like "wow, women, I guess they vote - maybe we should actively strive to represent their interests?" Speaking as someone who actually wrote a letter to Obama's campaign - yeah, I know, I'm so sure he read it - telling him that the Democratic party was historically the party which most honored the values of feminism, and that I felt more open and earnest statements about his commitment to women's issues could only help him to win, let me just say this: great, thanks for showing up, dudes. You're late.

So, men were split 49 to 49 percent between Obama and McCain, whereas women favored Obama over McCain by 53 to 47 percent, meaning that we were crucial to establishing his lead and facilitating his victory. (To the one or two of my lady friends who did not vote: I have another number for you. EIGHTY-EIGHT. It is the number of years that women have had a constitutional right to vote in this country. Also, SEVENTY. That is the number of years that women organized and protested - and were arrested, beaten, tortured and jailed - in order to secure that right. We've been full citizens of this country for less than a century. You cannot tell me you are tired of it already.) In a spectacularly duh-making statement, MSNBC points out that "women make up not only more of the general population, but also more of adult voters."

Here's the bummer: only forty-six percent of white women voted for Obama. My fellow white ladies, that is gross. What was it that did the rest of you in? Was it the fact that you might get to pay for your own rape kits? The promise that, if your pregnancy threatened your life, you would get to die rather than be forced to have a safe and legal abortion? Was it the thrilling prospect of having a misogynist wife-abuser - who does not think you deserve equal pay or insurance coverage for birth control - as your President? Or was it, you know, THE RACISM? Anyway, various reports seem to show that in communities of color, Obama was the leading candidate, and that women of color voted for Obama in even higher percentages than men of color did. So, thanks; the rest of us apparently need to get our shit together for 2012.

All of this is merely prologue, though, for now I must introduce to you the single most annoying voter demographic of all time: the Unmarried Woman.

Analysts expected Tuesday’s crowds to include record numbers of single women voters, who could help fuel a “marriage gap” that could be more significant than a gender gap, or the difference between how men and women support the same candidate. The Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund registered 900,000 new unmarried female voters, according to Page Gardner, the advocacy agency’s president.

“There’s something about being on your own as a woman in this country that is politically significant,” Gardner said. "Unmarried women are at the razor's edge of the economic crisis."

Can we please, for the love of God, stop defining women as either "married" or "single"? I'm not single right now, nor am I married. "Single" and "married" are two ends of a spectrum, and there are about nine million kinds of relationships in between those two points, none of which is any more or less legitimate than any other. This concept works to make lesbian voters invisible, and it also delegitimizes domestic partnerships between men and women - not to mention the fact that I have never in my life heard people talk about the political differences between married and unmarried men. I think marriage is sweet and lovely and nice, and I think everybody should be able to have one, if that's what they want. However, I also think that we give unwarranted legitimacy to marriages as opposed to other partnerships, and that according women different values depending on whether or not they are married is heterosexist, sexist, and just plain obnoxious.


I once worked at a very small tea shop with two other waitresses. We worked our shifts alone. At that time, I had been living with a partner for about four years. On Mother's Day, the woman who was supposed to to work the five-hour morning shift called in "sick." She was married, with kids. I volunteered to cover her shift, even though it was my day off. An hour before that shift ended, I received a call from the tea shop's owner. The woman who was supposed to work the five-hour evening shift could not come in; her husband, whom she had known for a grand total of two years, had purchased theater tickets. I would need to work the evening shift, too.

"Is there any way you can require her to come in?" I asked. "I don't mind covering for [Married Lady #1] if she's sick, but this was my day off, and [my partner] and I had plans. I don't see why [Married Lady #2's] plans should be more important than mine, especially if she's announcing them at the last minute."

"You don't understand," my boss said. "They have to spend time with their husbands."

And that is the story of how I ended up working a ten-hour shift on my day off because I was not married.

--- THE END ---

So, yes: I think the "married/alone, SO ALONE" distinction, and the baggage that comes with it, has got to go away. However, I would also like to point something out:
At least 70 percent of unmarried women with and without children supported Obama, a margin of more than 2-to-1.
That's right, all you Democratic married ladies and men whose marital status is apparently irrelevant to your politics. PRAISE ME. For my people have brought you victory!

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