International Women's Day Promotes Rights of All WomenThis letter to the editor acknowledges International Women's Day as an initiative intended to raise awareness about the oppression of women. This may include physical objectification, perceptions of intellectual inferiority to men, sexual violence, and unequal job opportunities.
Annette Nuff, Melanie Knutson, Marie Hawthorne
International Women's Day Promotes Rights of All Women
Political analysts have been talking quite a bit lately about an intriguing phenomenon they term the â€œgender gap." The "gap" first came to national attention in 1980 when the Republican Party noted a considerably lower percentage of women supported and voted for Ronald Reagan than men.
Opinion polls over the last three years have confirmed the trend, revealing a noticeable difference in the way men and women view issues and perceive candidates.
Well aware that women comprise 53 percent of the voting-age population and six million more women than men voted in the 1980 election. politicians this election year are paying special attention to the fender gap. Everyone is trying to analyze why women vote as they do.
In her book "In a Different Voice,â€ Harvard Prof. Carol Gilligan sought to explain the causes of the gender gap in psychological and sociological terms.
Gilligan explained that men and women develop divergent moral sensibilities due to differences in the socialization process. Gilligan said for women the moral imperative is â€œan injunction to care, a responsibility to discern and alleviate the â€˜real and recognizable' trouble of the world. For men, the moral appears rather as an injunction to respect the rights of others and thus to protect from interference the rights of life and self-fulfillment.â€
When applied to the realm, this observation yields some interesting conclusions. For years liberal politicians have enacted policies of "caretaking" and have the idea that government should be to protect people. Conversely, conservatives have promoted the concept of individualism. A central tenet of conservatism is the belief that people need to be protected from the government.
Gilligan concludes that when women vote according to their own moral values, they tend to vote along "liberal" lines. This could explain President Reagan's low popularity among women. Massive cutbacks in social programs have assured Reagan cannot be mistaken as the "benevolent caretaker" of society. His pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps attitude toward the countryâ€™s homeless and hungry is an example of individualism taken to its most extreme and cruel end.
In addition to socialization, the differences in the economic realities of men and women are an important consideration in understanding the way the sexes view political issues. We live in a patriarchal society. Generally the economic status of women is much more tenuous and unstable than that of
For most women in this country. class position is determined by our relationship with men. When we are children, it is our father's position that determines our economic status. When we enter into marriage (a purely economic relationship which our society hails as sacred) we take on our husband's status.
Due to this ever-changing economic position, women develop different attitudes than men toward certain political issues such as social program funding and military spending. When the Reagan administration cut back funding for infant nutrition programs and daycare and opposed economic equity legislation. which called for comparable pay for comparable efforts. women became angry because these actions affected us.
A third factor influencing the new trend in â€œwomen's politics" is our understanding of power. In the 60 years since winning the right to vote, American women have made a few political gains. but overall the male-dominated structure of our government has remained intact. Women have failed to take their rightful place in government as policy-makers.
In some ways, our position has analogous to that of black men. Similarly to blacks, we have been part of what some political theorists call the "kitchen cabinet. " We have expressed our opinions to our husbands and fathers and trusted them to act in our best interest based on this advice. Like blacks, we have learned this policy of trusting white males to represent us is detrimental to ourselves and must be changed.
Women are learning we must act for ourselves. We must have the to make the decisions which affect us and shape and control our lives.
This understanding of the necessity of power is manifest in Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. Jackson's supporters represent the ignored and forgotten of society (women, blacks, Hispanics, etc.) who have long depended on the goodwill of others to represent them and look out for their interests.
The coalition is an important political development for all women. as well as blacks, because it represents a new and much-needed challenge to the white patriarchal leadership of this country. A central theme of the Rainbow Coalition and of women's new political understanding is the right to self-determination.
No matter how we explain the current trend in women's voting. the "gender gap" signals a new direction in our political understanding. As we gain insight into government and begin to act in accordance with this insight, women can help to bring this country to greater heights of justice make our democracy democratic.
(College graduate Wallie Mason writes a biweekly column for The Cavalier Daily.)
|Tags||advocacy, student publications|
|Date Added||August 8, 2016|
|Date Modifed||December 11, 2017|
|Collection||Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination|
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