Friday, May 16, 2008

"Women's Issues"

Yesterday NPR did an interview with Valiere Jarrett, senior adviser on Barack Obama's campaign and a "longtime friend." When asked about attracting voters who currently support Hillary, Ms. Jarrett said Sen. Obama was going to focus on "issues relating to women." She repeated his plan to focus on "women's issues" a few more times before the end of the interview.

Funny, I haven't heard anything about Hillary pushing "men's issues" in order to expand her voter base. What exactly is a woman's issue? Reproductive rights, obviously, you might say. Sure, I know women who are active in ensuring my access to affordable BC and safe, legal abortions. I also know women who absolutely do not want me to have those things. Are healthcare and education reform only of interest to one gender? And if there are "women's issues" there are "men's issues," too - only no one treats "men" as a special interest group.

I recognize the pervasiveness of gender. My socialization and identification as a woman has shaped the way I look at the world in ways I might not even recognize. But my experience is far different than that of a woman of color, and evangelical Christian woman, or an immigrant woman. Having similar genitalia doesn't mean we all have similar political views.

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