I’m a member of One Million Pissed Off Women on facebook. Their mission statement is thus:
“Founded in April of 2011, OMPOW’s Goal is to take action to bring about equality for all women. OMPOW plans to bring the Public Spotlight on Elected Officials and our Political Parties through accountability for their actions directly impacting women. We intend to work to eliminate discrimination and harassment against all women, in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.”
Today, OMPOW has pissed me off. This graphic was posted:
I have a problem with this graphic. It has a very “don’t like the war on women? It’s your fault, bitchez!” tone to it. That kind of victim blaming bullshit has no place on a feminist page.
I have a bigger problem, however, with some of the responses in the comment section. There’s a whole load of “there’s no excuse for not voting! Ever!” and “If you don’t vote you deserve what you get!” sentiments flooding the comment section.
Again, this bullshit has no place on a feminist page.
Victim blaming much?
First, the obvious: attacking single women for their failure to vote, and telling them that they deserve what they get is the very height of stupidity. We’re all in this together. “We” get what “they” get. Where does this division of “us” and “them” get us? Nowhere. Divided. Defensive. And not paying attention to the war on women. It zaps our energy as activists. And for what? For some “I’m not that girl!” validation. Whoopee.
Secondly, this broad-scale attack ignores the myriad of issues that keep single women away from the polls. A few examples:
- The GOP’s attack on voting rights–including voter ID laws, purges of registered voter rolls, shortened early voting, student residency challenges, requirements for proof of citizenship before registration, and more. All of these things affect women–as a class, we’re poorer, we’re the majority of university students, we’re immigrants, we have several jobs. Make it harder to register and vote, fewer people vote.
- Women are more likely to be poor. When you’re struggling to survive, your focus is on your multiple part-time jobs, your bills, the sad excuse of a clunker you call a car, and hoping beyond hope that nothing goes wrong, because you will be fucked. Taking time off work to vote is a luxury when your boss can fire you whenever, for whatever, and there are fifty applications sitting in the office for people that can replace you just like that. And oh, look! From the link: “Only a quarter of all adult women (age 18 and older) with incomes below the poverty line are single mothers. Over half of all poor adult women—54 percent—are single with no dependent children.“
- Poor women are also less likely to have a state-issued ID. If you don’t have one, and you want to vote? The link has a nice mathematical equation that demonstrates just how many hoops a young woman would have to jump through: “1 person
+ 1 birth certificate
+ 1 marriage license
+ 1 utility bill
+ 1 trip to the DMV
= 1 vote”
If you don’t have those? Welp, guess you don’t get to exercise your duty as an American! Just sayin’.
Third, let’s come back to the whole division thing. This graphic, and the ensuing comments, is yet another verse in the “kids these days!” song. It’s old. It’s tired. Young (aka unmarried) women vs. older women. Third wave feminists vs. millennials. This shit is a strawman, set up to degenerate young women and to set us against one another. Did anyone wondering at the source actually attempt to find where these numbers came from? Judging from the comments, I’m guessing not.
Check out the note at the bottom. VoterParticipation.org. Let’s check it out, shall we? The organization is called the Voter Participation Center, formerly known as Women’s Voices, Women Vote. I found, on the website, a fact sheet where it appears the statistics in the graphics came from. It does not appear, to note, that the graphic originated from VPC.
Remember: statistics are not the full story–they can be misrepresented depending on the agenda of the presenter. Whatever douchebag created this graphic wanted to project a message that young (unmarried) women are ruining America for women (fucking bitchez, ALL YOUR FAULT!). Looking at the rest of the statistics, however, it doesn’t seem so much like we are Ruining America, after all:
In 2010, unmarried women lagged 11 percentage points below married women in voter registration, which translated into lower turnout by 15 percentage points.
o In 2010, 72% of married women were registered to vote (40.5 million), compared to 61% of unmarried women (32.4 million).
o In 2010, 54% of married women voted (30.2 million), compared to 38% of unmarried women (20.3 million).
o Had unmarried women voted at the same rate as married women in 2010, an additional 7.8 million voters would have participated.
Let’s remember the points I made earlier in this post, about women being poorer, especially single women, and all the barriers that poor women have to overcome in order to vote.
Not so bad, I don’t think. These numbers aren’t far off from participation rates in the general population. They’re better, actually.
It’s too bad that we can’t see the raw data. Check out the note at the bottom of the VPC factsheet. “Voter Participation Center and Democracy Corps post-election survey used for 2010 results. Results for other elections come from Edison/Mitosfky/CNN exit polls.”
Hmm. A news media outlet poll. Very credible. And so very carefully selected, with minimal error margins, I’m sure.
Let me issue a challenge to OMPOW members:
If you want higher turnout for young (unmarried) women, then I challenge each member that commented on the graphic to personally register five women. That’s not all–register five women to vote, ensure that they have a ride to their polling place on Election Day, and help them get all the documentation they need.
Stop the degeneration. Stop the attacks. You see a problem? Get out there and do something about it.