Every Woman; Elizabeth Edwards

GMA – Elizabeth Edwards on Oprah

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

She is an eloquent speaker, an expressive author.  Elizabeth Edwards is effervescent, effusive, and has an excellent mind.  She understands profound policy issues as easily as she prepares a sandwich.   Her memoir appeared on The New York Times bestseller list.  Few think of Elizabeth Edwards as every woman.  Other daughters of Eve might say Edwards is exceptional; surely, she is not as I am.  Yet, life experiences might have taught Elizabeth Edwards otherwise.  Just as other ladies, she is brilliant, beautiful, and not nearly equal to a man.

For years, millions of Americans thought Elizabeth Edwards could be a political power in her own right.  However, friends aver, Elizabeth never had an interest in that.   First and foremost, the role Elizabeth Edwards has said is most significant to her is that of Mom.  She was happy to support her husband, glad for the opportunity to speak on his behest.  However, Ms Edwards was content to be behind the scenes.

The wife and mother believed as much of the country did.   Her spouse, John, was quite superior.  Not only was he an accomplished attorney, as was she, He was a Presidential candidate in 2008 and a Vice President aspirant in 2004.  John Edwards had a following, as did Elizabeth.  Each was “stunningly” successful in their work.  Certainly, the two were characterized as a powerful pair.  Neither could be called common.  Average Americans, they were not.  Still, John was the one who could command an audience, or a country.

He was handsome.  Granted, in her youth, Elizabeth was also smashing.  However, by 1998, a woman told an Edwards pollster the lovely ‘Lizabeth looked like his [John’s] mother, or older sister.  Indeed, this casual observer said of the then future Senator’s spouse, “I like that he’s got a fat wife.”   In the new book, “Game Change,” which documents the doings within the 2008 Presidential campaign, it is revealed that the aforementioned anonymous woman remarked in relief, “I thought he’d be married to a Barbie or a cheerleader.”  Perhaps these verbalized thoughts were the first reported glimpse into the present.  Elizabeth Edwards is every woman.  Infrequently, is John Edwards spouse looked upon as a separate individual.  Ms Edwards is regarded as unequal.

Ostensibly, Elizabeth and John were thought to have an exceptional life.   In truth, they were as you and I are.  Elizabeth Edwards and her husband are never free from human emotions.

Humans, adult men, women, adolescents, and sandlot age persons tell others a tale.  People weave a yarn that helps to inform others it also instructs the storyteller.  Dan P. McAdams, a Professor of Psychology at Northwestern and Author of the 2006 book, “The Redemptive Self” states, “(T)hese narratives guide behavior in every moment, and frame not only how we see the past but how we see ourselves in the future.”  This may explain why no two persons are alike.  However, the thought might not help to explicate what is real for a woman and not necessarily for a man.

Either might think themselves a failure if a relationship is severed.  Each could characterize himself or herself as someone who is not good enough. Perchance, societal standards will cause a woman greater stress.  A female might believe herself, damaged goods.  While Americans state that they have progressed beyond such suppositions, in actuality, any or many a label can classify a divorcee as undesirable.  Some will say she could not satisfy her man. Her age might ensure that she is thought to be an unattractive asset.  Perchance, some will say, she was too forthcoming, overly friendly when in the company of other men, a flirt, a floozy, and a femme fatale.  

Then there are the financial ramifications and considerations.  Men, before a divorce and after fare far better fiscally than their counterparts do.  Interestingly, a study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that men who think of women in a more traditional, some would say sexist manner earn more money than those chaps with equalitarian views.  The variance is vast.  The more old-fashioned a gent might be, the greater his rewards.

Women, on the other hand, make less on average than men do.  Parents may posture that an excellent education will nullify the gender gap.  However, the Pay Gap Persists; Women Still Make Less, than men do. Surely, most surmise, Elizabeth Edwards will be amongst the exception.  She need not worry.  Once separate, the conventional wisdom is, Elizabeth Edwards will be equal.  The accepted thought is Edwards is not every woman.

After all, Ms Edwards graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a degree in English. She went on to study American literature and ultimately secured her degree in law. She certainly is set for life. However, her status as a “professional” person, one out in the work-world became less of a priority.  Elizabeth Edwards, as her friends will attest to, thinks of herself as the proud mother of four children: Catharine, Emma Claire, and Jack. Her first child, Wade, died in 1996.  Time away from the office takes a fiscal toll.

In truth, even if Ms Edwards had remained a fixture in a solid firm, she would have experienced as most every other woman has.  Women Earn Less Than Men, Especially at the Top.  No matter the tale Elizabeth or every other woman might tell themselves, there are some facts that females know they must face.  Emotionally we can evolve.  Economically, the road is rougher for the “fairer” sex.

Only the desire to treat someone of a different sex fairly is great.  Parity is not the reality. Be it a former spouse with whom we have feuded, a friend, male or female by nature, wives wronged, and women righted, wish to achieve equality.  This may be why many women welcomed the prospect of “no fault” divorce.

While it is fine to think that we might not wish to place the onus on one or the other partner, in truth, the notion of a “no fault” divorce has done much harm.   A blameless split severs more than a legal bond.  It presents “perverse consequences for women,” says Lenore J. Weitzman, Associate Professor of Sociology at Stanford.  Divorce for women is just different than it is for men.  Perhaps, “There are enormous financial ramifications” even if you are Elizabeth Edwards.  Potential economic woes must worry any woman who contemplates the disillusion of a marriage.  The appearance of wealth, for women, maintained while married, will not warm the cockles of a heart hurt.  Nor will the façade fill her coffers.  Frequently, females face financial ruin, realized in divorce.

That truth has power.  Does a wife such as Elizabeth Edwards weigh the practical and or parse the paradox of a deceitful philanderer.  This may depend on the missus, the mistress, the money, and more.  In a moment, the yarn spun may be sufficient.  In the next minute, the same saga may sound silly, insincere, or just more of the madness.  If a husband is All apologies and earnestly expresses remorse, a couple could come to terms with what occurred.  An admission could kindle forgiveness, or after a series of confessions, one too many might be the permission to leave that a scorned wife sought.  Elizabeth Edwards stated she was “relieved” and hoped husband John’s long delayed disclosure would end the seemingly eternal drama that had become her life.

What we do not know; nor does the soon to be footloose and fancy-free Elizabeth, is how her saga will evolve.  While Elizabeth Edwards is every woman, she is like no one else.  Her tragedy, comic relief, travel, and she are uniquely her own.  This is true whether one’s name is Ellen, Emma, Eileen, Eve, or even Rielle.  What differs is who directs our performance, the stories told.

What might matter most to someone such as Elizabeth Edwards is how the eventuality of a divorce will affect her health.  Will this woman, who loves her life as a mom, be able to help her children?  Divorce, It Seems, Can Make You Ill. Indeed, the research reveals Divorce undermines health in ways remarriage doesn’t heal.  What is a aggrieved Eve or Elizabeth to do?

A captive American audience awaits the details, the decision, or knowledge of the direction a resolute Ms Edwards will take.  For months, or perhaps years, observers asked of the screenplay that appeared often on American television screens, in tabloids, and in books.  Some wives expressed sympathy for exactly what they witnessed in their own marriages.  Singles also empathized.  Elizabeth Edward’s experience is not isolated to the institution of wedlock.  The similarities scream out.

Women pose.  They posture.  Females hide the pain, and the shame. They may shout, shriek, or calmly express distress.  “I am so determined. This time I will lose 40 pounds,” said Elizabeth Edwards as she greeted a guest at the door of her home.  Did she wish to present herself at her best for her husband?  Might Ms Edwards words “show a lack of pretense,” or, as her critics say, was the statement but another act on Elizabeth’s. part.  What role did and does Elizabeth play in this drama?  Can anyone know for sure?

Is she a caricature, stereotyped as a spouse?  What is the story Elizabeth tells herself and others? A women’s place is in the home, on the campaign trail, to pale in comparison to her husband.  

Might her yarn be the same is true if a dame is a professional person, a politician, a plumber, or a Professors wife.   A women’s work is never done, be it that of a domestic, a doctor, a lawyer, a baker, or candlestick maker.  Elizabeth Edwards, as many women can attest to the notion, when you are of the fairer sex, praise pours in sparingly.  Disparagement is distributed frequently. At times, the two are synonymous.  

The former North Carolina Senator’s erstwhile aide Andrew Young exemplifies this.  In his tome titled “The Politician” Elizabeth Edwards is described as the wife and mother could not keep her man.  She “became intoxicated by power, and sometimes looked the other way.”

The Edwards Adviser, as do most, at least in America, acquiesced to the old adage, there is a good woman, behind every man.  A gent does not act alone.  Certainly, John Edwards did not.  Mister Young, in his writings, marvels that Rielle Hunter and Elizabeth Edwards each moved John to do as he has, or perhaps the two damsels did as all people do.  

With societal standards in mind, they pen a tale that reflects their truth.  The title; This is your life (and How You Tell It.)  Men might have opportunities that allow for a more sensational, secure, and solid plot.

Woman work on a screenplay more mired in woes.  She persistently updates the plot.   Just as Elizabeth Edwards, she transforms the treatment of our own life.  She learns and finds Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers. For some, the saga was audacious, and certainly not what they expected from an authority on the law.  Others saw them selves.  Every woman might relate to the reality, Elizabeth Edwards has learned every woman is as she., effervescent, effusive, bearers of excellent minds.  We all experience hurts and heartaches, many of our own making, many more that are not.

“I am a woman.  Here me roar.”  Watch me soar.  I may occupy the planet “in numbers too big to ignore,” but will I ever realize the heights, or have rights equal to those of a man.

Every Woman; Elizabeth Edwards . . .

2008; Unprecedented

McCain Does Not Get It That Americans Say Country Off Course

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

The consensus is this election year is like no other.  It is more dynamic than those in the past.  The times they are a changing.  Indeed, there is much to substantiate this proclamation.

It can be argued; Hillary Clinton was the first woman Presidential candidate with a chance.  The New York Senator proved that females are free to be strong.  Ladies are able to look to the skies.  Glass ceilings have been shattered since Hillary Rodham Clinton took the political stage.  A former First Lady may be the right person for the job.  Some say she is better than her husband ever was.  A few claim the Clinton of extraordinary excellence is not Bill; it is Hillary.  The daughter of Hugh and Dorothy Rodham proved what was posited in prior years.  A Presidential aspirant need not be a man.  The climb to the Executive Branch can be achieved in a skirt or a pants suit.

A case could be made for the novelty that is Barack Obama.  Some say the Illinois Senator is the only African-American Presidential hopeful to truly have a chance.  Barack Obama is not as any other man of color who rose through the ranks.  Senator Obama is a scholar and sensitive to a system that must be delicately stroked.

Verification for this stance is often offered.  Comparisons are made to other candidates of color.  Prominent persons have presented the perception Jesse Jackson was not to be taken seriously.  A few counter what they think an unconscionable contention.  Civil Rights Leader Jesse Jackson was a contender and could have been President of the United States.  The number of delegates Presidential candidate Jackson received in 1984 is impressive.  Whether he could have or would have won may forever remain a question.  The narrative validates or negates the contention the election of 2008 is truly exceptional.  Conclusions, just as opinions will vary.  

A few will surmise perhaps, the skin color of a candidate does not make this election year unique.  Others will assert gender has not been an issue for years.  The fairer sex broke barriers long ago, as did African-Americans.

Citizens in the States might further muse Congresswoman Chisholm was a great challenger.  She could have reached the Oval Office decades earlier.  Shirley Chisholm would have received more votes if the electorate believed it was possible to elect a Black woman President.  Possibly, if the Representative thought herself more than  the aspirant who wished “to give a voice to the people the major candidates were ignoring,” she might have waged a fully organized effort.  Instead, the Chisholm campaign was exclusively, a grassroots endeavor.  

After the process was over, Shirley Chisholm questioned whether she might have done better if her operation were not under-organized, under-financed and unprepared.  Perchance, Congresswoman Chisholm could have been so much more if she and the nation trusted she was a serious candidate and threat to the presumed nominee.  Hindsight is that.  We may realize much after the fact.  We may also understand that frequently, history repeats itself.

While the 2008 Election may, or may not be a distinctively different campaign in the obvious sense, milestones are evident.  A New York Times – CBS poll presented only two short months ago revealed Americans do not think themselves better off.  81% in Poll Say Nation Is Headed on Wrong Track.  Today, the news is unprecedented.

Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country hit an all-time high this month, with 84 percent saying the nation is now seriously on the wrong track.

Registered voters polled in a Washington Post – ABC News poll  say the time for change is now.  Perchance there is more agreement in this nation than ever before.  Americans want to take a path that differs from the one we now travel.  Citizens are tired of living in a country that does not serve the constituents.  In 2008, contentment and complacency are difficult to find.  

The challenge to get people to the polls may be less critical this year.  A transformation too long in coming is welcome.  That point is one I think those who care about this country will not dispute.

Sources for discussion . . .

Misogyny; Women We Love or Hate

Women in Film

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

There are many wondrous women.  Females are loved and lovely.  The face of the “fairer sex” is photographed, fondled, treasured, and cherished.  The being that brings life to us all is beloved and beautiful.  I am a woman.  As such, the idea of misogyny infuriates me.

Yet, with few exceptions, men are not the persons who cause me to fume.  At times, a male in defense of a scorned spouse will use define another fellow as a woman-hater.  However, it seems to me, a gent will offer this proclamation when the lady he appreciates is not acknowledged in the manner that he thinks just.  I realize, more often than not, when my fellow females use the term, and I am exasperated.  In all of my life, I have never felt as though a person whose gender differs from my own treated me, feminine as I may be, with disdain.

Indubitably, many a man I have meet openly proclaims an undying devotion to women.  Countless chaps cherish those of the opposite sex, in word and in deed.  Men, I associate with admire what they consider the stronger sex, females.  Still, women scorned, shriek “misogyny,” and I inquire where.

I am well aware of income inequities. I abhor the practice that devastates millions of women, particularly those without a man in their lives.  However, as I read the research it seems to me, those without a legal life partner no matter the gender, are shown greater contempt than persons of one sex or another might be.

The Lake Research Partners study, commissioned by Women’s Voices Women Vote, found unmarried women earn only 56 cents for every dollar a married man earns.  In terms of personal earnings, unmarried women live on only $37,264 per year, which is nearly $6,000 less than unmarried men ($42,843) and nearly $30,000 less than married men ($66,646) earn.

Bachelors bring in 64 cents for every hundred pennies a conjugal chap nets.  Perhaps, we are marriage misanthropes or is it the reverse?  Men or women without a band, or a state sanctioned bond, do not garner the greenbacks they might.  Possibly, singles struggle regardless of their identity.  Matrimony may move millions to the good life, or money may move people to wed.  

Wages, as reported, may best explain the adage “wedded bliss.”  The statistics may indicate Americans accept a legal union.  The data, I believe does not validate that misogyny is alive and well.  

A man of means may realize, the woman behind him helped him to secure a substantial salary.  Perchance, the phrase was coined for few misogynists walk down the aisle.  I know not.  I do not recall a time when misogyny was listed as a reason for divorce.  Might we ask whether nuptials necessitate bliss or benefits?  I struggle to understand how a man who says, “I do” does not like women.

Even single males seem to search for the one.  Each year 2.2 million males exchange vows with females.  Yet, stereotypical standards have been sustained.  Conventional wisdom claims women suffer in the workplace; although, many women are extremely successful.  Only tonight, I spoke with one, a stranger to me before today.

Mary mentioned, “superiors” in the business world did not wish to stop her rise.  None tried.  The woman now in her fifties mused, she excelled and was esteemed.  Mary stated she never felt pressure to perform less well.  Nor was she stifled by those in the corporate hierarchy were thought to be above her.  Indeed, this highly educated scholar soared without hindrance.  

The Miss I met this evening expressed her surprise when a peer told her others looked upon her as the “person to beat.”  Mary marveled, apparently she was a threat to those akin to her.  Misogyny was not her experience.  Competitiveness amongst colleagues was the only source of sorrow that affected her climb.  Mary consistently reminded me, the subtle antagonism did not have an effect on her career at all.  She revealed she never felt she must marry.  I was startled.  I had not considered the connection.  For Mary, women have long been free to be.  Perhaps that is true.  I ponder.

Too successful for a mate?

By Kris Frieswick

MSN Money

The majority of my most successful, good-looking, educated, talented girlfriends are still single.

If they had Y-chromosomes, they would have been married a decade ago.  Instead, like successful single women all over the country, they trek into their mid- to late 30s on their own – experiencing fabulous professional success, buying real estate and making savvy investments for the future, without much going on in the relationship department.

What gives?

Carolyn Kaufman, 33, has a doctorate in clinical psychology and teaches college in Columbus, Ohio.  She is a perfect example of a woman who has everything except a date.  “I have this crazy belief that I have the right to expect my potential partner to be at least as successful as I am, and to have as many things to offer as I do,” she says.

Good luck, Carolyn.  With more women than men earning advanced degrees — 61% of master’s degrees conferred in 2007 will be to women – those kinds of men are going to become harder and harder to find . . .

Then there’s the issue of time.  Most highly successful people work crazy hours, which makes it even more difficult to meet a suitable match.  Christine Mohr, director of marketing and community relations for the YMCA in Washington, D.C., is out nearly every night of the week at fund-raisers, benefits, and business dinners.  “The person I’m trying to find is just as busy as I am,” says Mohr, 29.  “If we’re both that busy, when is the time when we’re going to meet?”  She says the men she does meet at these events are usually married.

Of course, you have heard all these excuses before, from women both successful and not – I’m too busy, there are no good men left, they’re all married or gay, etc.  But there’s another factor at work for women at the top of their game: They’re intimidating to men.  No matter how enlightened most men claim they are, few are ready to pair up with a woman who is more successful, better paid and better educated — not to mention better traveled, more connected and more socially savvy than they are.

Women are not weak.  They are strong.  That may trouble a man, or another Eve.  Who we are as a unique being breeds contempt or compassion, a connection or a crack.  Fissures and fractures in a relationship with a female are not indicative of the organs within.  Nor do men generally define all those of the “fairer sex” by the mannerisms and makeup of one, at least no more than a woman might when she declares with disregard, “Men!”

An individual woman, or man, might threaten the ego strength of a mate, or a person of the opposite gender.  The men that might not choose a particular woman do not hate the sex.  They fear intimidation, just as a women might.  I believe love or loathing is reserved for individuals of one gender or another, not for the inherent sex of a person.

Sex may not stimulate revulsion.  However, I experience race and religion give rise to repulsion.  There are those who hate a particular “clan,” or rage against a creed.  I have yet to meet a misogynist.  

Might we ask, were women hung from trees for beauty that was skin deep?  Do men burn crosses on the lawns of females whose pious beliefs or practices they despise?  Has any chap said, “I do not want one of them to live in my neighborhood” as he looked at the females that grace every enclave.  When fathers fondly envision a family, do they forbid their sons to engage with a feminine friend?  Has Papa pledged never to allow his male offspring to associate with one of them, women?  I do not recall such scenarios.

Men and women differ biologically, they may disagree on occasion.  Still, organically the genders are equivalent.  I am an advocate of equal rights.  I have been for as long as I remember.  Glass ceilings, when or if they exist, I believe, must be broken.  As I study, I understand as Mary states; many have been shattered.  I trust any obstructions can and will continue to crumble.  I wonder how many limits were placed in a desire to love, not destroy.  

I understand; there are women who feel as though they are less valued.  However, I often reflect upon what I observe.  The “gentler sex” is more esteemed.  We need only consider the contrast; Mother’s Day is observed with lack of restraint.  Dad does not fare as well.  Perchance, the women in the world are revered.  Females are given grand respect and hence the most significant responsibility.  Moms, misses, matriarchs are afforded an honor that few imagine.  They are frequently cared for and given the opportunity to teach the children.  Many a mother, a mentor, a nursemaid, holds mankind’s future in her hands.

Cross-sectional studies usually have supported the idea that the higher the husband’s income, the lower is the labor force participation rate of his wife.  This relationship is just what the theory of the backward-bending supply curve would predict-a strong inverse relationship, other things being equal, between husbands’ income and women’s participation rate.  A wife’s freedom from the labor market is looked at as a normal good.  So, accordingly, only “poor” women work out of economic necessity.  

Husbands with higher incomes would tend to have a smaller proportion of wives in the labor force, because they could afford the luxury of stay-at-home wives and the wives could be relieved of the stress of contributing to the family income.  However, considering the rise in real income that, in general, has taken place over time, the increase in labor force participation of wives in recent years generates some doubt about the presumptive relationship.

The need for money to help make ends meet seems to be one of the most popular explanations of wives working, but that can hardly be the reason for the rapid rise in married women’s participation rate, because wives stayed home in earlier decades, when their husbands were earning less.  Needing money seems to be a universal and constant factor and thus cannot explain the increasing labor force participation of women.

Illumination may be found in freedom.  Women have much liberty to think, say, do, feel, and be as they think best.  This may be more true now or less.  As a society, we cannot be certain.  Have the times changed or do the predominate preferences of the past no longer prevail?

Many of us have heard, “When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.”  Might it be that Mom, a Miss, or a Madame no longer loves what she once did.  Have women wandered into a world they did not imagine decades ago, or has the opportunity to choose evolved over the centuries.  Is there more or less misogyny or is there more to consider?

I am intensely cognizant of my desire to be me!  I have no interest in being similar to the males of my species.  I do not wish to be approached as though I am identical to a mister.  I believe gents are not gals, and a guy does not receive greater gratification.  Nor does a man hate a woman simply because she is a female.

Granted, at times, monetarily there may be a modicum of difference.  Yes, that does need to change.  Nonetheless, for me, the hatred of women is not the reason for the discrepancy.  Men who despise a woman do not detest her sex; they disdain an individual for whatever reason.  She may be a menace, a martyr, a manipulator, or just like the men he has met, who also are a source of misery.

I experience women as people are not hated.  Misogyny does not mar an existence.  Females who feel slighted might wish to wonder why is he [or she] not fond of me.  Might the lovelies look at the image that appears in the mirror and meditate.  Ponder the beauty that is reflected back and sense what is not seen.  The love or hate others express is not as easily explained as misogyny.

Annals for Misogyny or Misology . . .

A Woman’s Right to Reproductive Control

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

Women around the world suffer today from a basic lack of rights in comparison to their male counterparts.  The Declaration of Independence contains the words

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…

In some parts of the world women are subjugated to the point of being nothing more than the property of their male relatives.  The United States has made great strides in women’s rights, but still there is far to go before true equality of the sexes is seen in the eyes of American law and government. 

The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution granting the right to vote to women was finally passed in 1920 after being introduced in 1878.  The intervening years saw the action of many groups working to see women voting at last.

The Equal Rights Amendment written in 1921 by Alice Paul has been introduced in every session of Congress since 1923.  The amendment was passed by Congress in 1972 but failed to gain the requisite number of ratifying states by 1982, the end of the time of consideration.  The amendment says simply:

Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The importance of the Equal Rights Amendment to the rights of women cannot be overestimated.  In recent years under the Bush administration those rights in particular with respect to reproduction have seen increasing restriction.  The ruling by the US Supreme Court in 1973 in the case of Roe v. Wade affirmed the right of an abortion under the right of privacy granted by the ruling in Griswald v. Connecticut handed down in 1965.  Since that time various appeals have been made with the end result that abortion as a procedure is restricted in many jurisdictions and unavailable in many others.

Today a woman seeking an abortion may find herself taunted by protesters gathered near a clinic entrance.  These protesters in some instances carry signs with images of aborted fetuses and other grisly sights in an effort to change a woman’s mind.  Never mind many women asking for an abortion are already traumatized by the very nature of the decision, they may be subject to all manner of additional psychological trauma as they pursue resolution to their decision.

And then we have Plan B, the emergency contraceptive for women having unprotected sex.  The drug may be taken within three days of the sexual encounter to prevent implantation of the fertilized egg onto the uterine wall and thus prevent the continuation of pregnancy.  In spite of studies in Europe showing the apparent effectiveness and safety of the drug, its availability in the United States is limited to prescription by a doctor for patients ages 17 and under.  Even more restrictions are sometimes placed on the availability of the drug by pharmacists and hospitals where contraception is not acceptable by virtue of religious or other personal beliefs.  In Catholic hospitals (which account for a significant percentage of American hospitals) for example the availability of Plan B cannot be discussed in the emergency room where a rape victim may be examined.

Contraceptives and condoms are restricted in foreign aid programs supported by the Bush administration in their ongoing effort to impose American ideals on other peoples of the world.  The AIDS epidemic in Africa and other parts of the world would be better served by free and open distribution of condoms.  Abstinence has been shown time and time again to fail.  In some countries where AIDS is an issue married women are likely to contract the disease from husbands who treat their wives as property rather than respected human beings.  Our government in its international dealings must support programs shown to be effective no matter the religious or other objections which may arise.  Success in medical programs is all important.

In addition to foregoing controls on contraception and abortion the government and our society in general should begin programs of sex education beyond the abstinence (just say “No”) programs of the Bush administration.  Children need to learn the ways and means of preventing not only pregnancy but the spread of various sexually transmitted diseases.  Education is the prime mover in this arena.  Children left without knowledge are more likely to find themselves caught in the after effects of a poor decision making process.  It benefits all of society to provide both the education and the means to protect one’s self against either pregnancy or disease at all times.  We as a nation cannot afford to leave our children behind in their sex education any more than we can forego their academic advancement.

Women deserve the same legal rights as men both in this country and around the world.  In a speech delivered to Congress in 1971, Representative Stewart McKinney exposed the facts behind much of the opposition to the ERA when he said,

Use the draft for an excuse if you like.  Use child care.  Use anything else.  We [men] are simply trying in our own little way to preserve the right to stand up and say, ‘We can declare the difference.’

Today the situation has not changed a great deal but the time for real change is here and now.  Today and forever more women must be given all the rights and privileges granted any citizen including the right to control their reproductive status.  In addition we in America must work to see the same rights spread around the world.  The end result will be a society of free people working together in equality aiming to make a better world. 

If we fail to make the necessary changes we will continue to see some women shackled by the burden of unwanted children.  These women may find themselves not working or working more than one job to  support their children.  Access to education and some better paying jobs may be limited by pregnancy or motherhood.  How many women living in poverty could rise above that station given the right to control their reproduction instead of carrying a child they may or may not wish to produce? 

Those women wishing to carry a child have the right to do so.  Carrying a child is every bit as important a right as not doing so. It is those women who wish to avoid pregnancy who should be allowed to make the decision for themselves without government intervention.  The place of government is to regulate the safety of drugs used for contraception and to insure the cleanliness of medical facilities providing abortion.  It is not now and should never be the place of government to decide how a woman manages her reproductive status on any level.

Single Women. The First Time. ©

The idea first entered my consciousness at the age of five.  I overheard my parents having a passionate conversation.  I had never seen them so animated.  I wanted to feel as they did in that moment.  By the time I was a teen I had read much.  I knew; I was ready.  How long would it be before I too felt the excitement and the energy I witnessed?  I wondered.

When the time came, I was anxious, expectant, and so eager.  I did not know that I could do it in my own home.  I was young and naïve.  I walked outside the house into a driving rain.  I hitchhiked to meet my destiny.  Once I completed the act, I was elated.  I could hardly wait for the next time, then the next, and the next.  All these years later, I still love doing it.

“You want me to tell you about my first time . . . I like doing it in the morning . . . When was it?  What year was it?  Well, it’s kind of personal . . . I felt grown up.  I wasn’t a kid anymore . . . Once I did it in an old woman’s garage.  You have all of that energy flowing inside.  You go in.  You commit.  It is a beautiful thing!”

These women, Felicity Huffman, Marg Helgenberger, Angie Harmon, Rosario Dawson, Tyne Daly, and Daphne Zuniga are speaking of voting, as was I.  They are reflecting on their first vote; their virginal experience as an electorate.  A recent television advertisement campaign, sponsored by the Women’s Voices, Women Vote, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, District of Columbia, is attempting to appeal to single women voters.  Apparently, according to a recent study, there are approximately twenty million of these.

In this election year 2006, single women are considered the group to get.  They are the voters that candidates wish to attract.  These lovelies are the silent, sweet minority.

In recent years, each election has been marked with a group of swing voters — 1992 was the year of the woman, 1994 — the year of “angry white males,” 1996 — the soccer mom, and 2000 — waitress moms.

According to [Daron Shaw, PhD., an associate professor at the University of Texas,] Shaw, the swing voter becomes more legitimate when you can picture them as a group.  The waitress moms, branded as blue-collared women who were typically single mothers, were an easy group for people to visualize — Helen Hunt in “As Good as it Gets,” a movie that came out only a year before the election.

Heading into this election year [2004], a media buzz has surrounded one group in particular — NASCAR dads — a term used by Democratic consultant Celinda Lake in 2002 to describe white, conservative NASCAR fans.

Though the legitimacy of NASCAR dads as a swing vote is debated, in February President Bush, decked out in a racing jacket, flew on Air Force One to the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s biggest annual event.
“Our message to them (NASCAR dads) is Democrats are not going to take away your guns, but Republicans are taking away your jobs,” said Lake, the Democratic pollster, who worked as a consultant for the Clinton/Gore campaign.

Some pundits, however, have argued that NASCAR dads as a swing group is nothing more than hype.

Today the group to capture are single women.

I am among them.  Yet, I have done it for decades.  I am a dedicated voter.  Unlike the twenty-two percent of eligible single female citizens that forfeited their right to vote in the 2004 Presidential election year, I cast my ballot.  Contrary to the expected 24 percent of single, adult women that are not expected to vote this year, I will again select my representatives.

Single women are now being defined as slackers.

By contrast, [Joe Goode, Executive Director of Women’s Voices, Women Vote] Goode said, “married women comprise 28 percent of the voting population, but their participation was 31 percent in the last presidential.”

Who are these fair ladies?  Are you among them?  if so, please share your sentiments; what are you thinking, feeling, and why.  I want to understand.

Seriously, for me, at the age of five I felt passionate about politics.  My natural father was a right-winged, radical Republican.  My Mom is a Democratic Socialist.  One day the two were engaged in a heated exchange as they discussed the candidates.  I witnessed this and thought, “Wow, I can hardly wait to care so much and have the power to bring about change.”

I grew up in a quiet home.  This discussion for me was unusual, electrifying, exhilarating, and lively.  I listened intently.  The dialogue, and the moment, was unforgettable.  Since that conversation, which was my introduction to issues, the parties, and political campaigns, my interest has never wavered.

My Mom later divorced my biological father.  She married a Liberal Progressive.  Political demonstrations became a part of my life early on.  I participated in the process long before I could vote.  In Wisconsin, at the age of seventeen I was able to cast a ballot in the primary.  In the Badger state, if you were going to be eighteen at the time of the general election, you were eligible to vote in the preliminaries.

At the time, I was a college student.  I moved after registering.  In order to  vote, I needed to drive, in my case hitchhike to my former precinct.  It was far.  The weather was awful.  Not only did I drudge out during a thunderstorm, I repeated the process in November in the midst of a blizzard.  Nothing deterred me.

Yet, according to experts single women in America have many reasons for not voting.  Time and money seem to be major concerns for this population.  Somehow, this effects their partaking in the process. 

According to Joe Goode, “Fifty percent of these single women live in households that make less than $30,000 a year.  They are very economically depressed.” 

I relate.  I would think that this state of affairs would stimulate a desire to vote, to take action.  These women, more than most need a good government to assist them.  With representatives such as our current compassionate Commander, they are certain to falter.  Statistically speaking, I am in this group.  I know how hard life can be when the money in your pocket cannot fill a molehill, let alone a mountain.

Thus, I trust that life for these women must be a challenge, it is for me!  I acknowledge that day-to-day doings are made more challenging by a non-responsive administration.  I know that; this is my experience!

Many single women “may be struggling just to get ahead.  They may be single moms.  So their support network just isn’t the same as married women who tend to be upper-income and a little more established in terms of where they live.”

Oh, this is so true.  For me, there is one income and it is shaky.  My support system is quite limited.  My network is likely smaller than those that meander in and out of meaningful exchanges with their spouse and “his” associates.

One reason for this disparity, Goode suggests, is that “single women tend to be more mobile.  A third of them move every two years or less.  They might not even know where to go to vote.  A lot of them are under 30 and a lot of them are over 60.”

Whatever their age, these are women with concerns about affordable health care, the cost of education and pay equity.

So true Mr. Goode.  Health care concerns have haunted me as long as I can remember.  Though I loathe moving, I seem to be more mobile than my married counterparts.  On the topic of pay equity, I can only say, please.  If I begin to share stories on this subject, I will go on endlessly.  I often wonder do married women and single women receive equal pay.  I will leave that research for another time.

Once again, with all that effects single women directly, why do so many of  these magnificent beings choose not to vote.

Sara Grove, a professor and Chair of the Elsie Hillman Politics at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, is sympathetic; she understands the large burdens many students shoulder today, single women among these.

Ms. Grove states, “If you are attending college … this is one of the last things you are paying attention to.”  The Professor cogitates, ‘many students carry 12 college credits so they can obtain health-care benefits while also working a full-time job.  They wind up struggling to stay afloat academically and financially.’

Grove continues, “That is increasingly becoming the dilemma more and more students face.”  Yet, I wonder; does this justify not voting, not turning to those that might better the system.  I too attended college, often working full-time while carrying a full load.  I did struggle and every aspect of my life suffered.  Thus, I saw a need for being active.  For me, voting was meaningful.  It gave me a voice.  When I cast my ballot, then and now, I felt and feel empowered.  I was making a choice and attempting to improve life in America.

Barbara DiTullio, program manager for Women Vote PA, said Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation where women are less likely than men to be registered to vote.  One way to draw more women to the polls, she said, is to hold elections on weekends.

“Why does it have to be on a Tuesday between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. when people are working and children are in school?  If we really want to engage people, we have to make it easier for them to vote.” 

Wow!  Originally, I am from Pennsylvania.  However, as you might surmise, as a single woman, I have moved many times in my life.  I no longer reside in what once was my home state.

Nevertheless, the scheduled Tuesday vote is to me almost a non-issue.  Years ago I learned of the power of an absentee vote.  I was working as the Democratic Party Representative on election eve.  Members of the Grand Jury and people from each political party were at the Registrars to monitor the vote count.  I befriended the Sergeant of Arms, the Republican representative.  He informed me, to ensure that the ballots would be cast, the Republican Party encouraged people to vote from home, well in advance of the election.

I thought what a great idea.  After assessing this dynamic, I began to do as he advised.  On many occasion, this has helped me immensely.  Voting can be a leisurely well-researched project when you mark your ballot from home.  The days and times for an “election” are ones a voter can choose.

What for me is more fascinating and more real is the lack of awareness among people entitled to vote, and those that volunteer during campaigns.  Only days ago, my telephone rang.  The caller represented the Democratic Party.  She sounded young; she seemed to have a script.  she read from it and asked if I had received a white card, an application, allowing me to vote from home.  I mentioned the “absentee ballot option.”  She said “No, not that.” 

At the time, I was rushed and did not have time to retrieve the document.  The staff person and I parted ways.  Later, I did go and look at the brochure the woman spoke of.  There it was, printed right at the top, “Absentee Ballot Application.”  I am new to this state and thought perhaps there were processes and pamphlets that differed from those that I am familiar with.  Perchance there are.

Here, in Florida, Early Voting polling places are available.  People, citizens have been casting their ballots for weeks on days other than Tuesday.  Thus, again I ask, if you are a single woman and are not voting, if you have not voted in the past, please help me to understand.

As a single woman whose income is low, who struggles to make ends meet, as a female that finds it difficult to survive, that fears the need for medical assistance, as one that knows a minor or major health concern could change my life drastically, I ask why would unmarried women not vote.  Why would those that need to live in a society that cares for its weaker wonders not wish to ensure that all is well?  I am so confused.

Single women of America, please scream out.  Participate in the process.  I plead; I beseech you.  I am willing to say, “I need your help!”  Please support the candidates of your choosing.

Your Sample Ballot . . .
Single Woman Vote. YouTube
My First Time. Issues. Dreams. Women’s Voices. Women Vote.
Women’s Voices. Women Vote.
New Survey Finds. Women’s Voices. Women Vote. February 21, 2006
WVWV Leadership Team. Women’s Voices. Women Vote.
Women Talk About the ‘First Time’ ABC News
12 Days and Counting: Will Women Show up at the Polls on November 7? By Romi Lassally, Yahoo News October 26, 2006
Organization trying to get more single women to vote,By Marylynne Pitz. Knoxville News Sentinel. October 22, 2006
Politics 101: Swing Voters. The Online NewsHour’s Vote 2004. Public Broadcasting Services
Women Really on Their Own, By Ruth Rosen.  The Nation October 28, 2004
Cable News Network Election Results
Healthy, Wealthy, & Wed,By Amy M. Braverman. University of Chicago Magazine.
Women’s Earnings, Work Patterns Partially Explain Difference between Men’s and Women’s Earnings. United States General Accounting Office
Sacramento Women: Women Vs. Women, By Dayna Dunteman. Sacramento  Magazine October 2006
Democrats Push to Counter G.O.P. in Turnout Race, By Adam Nagourney. New York Times. October 29, 2006