“Deal Me In” – Why The 2016 US Presidential Election Will Be A Game-Changer For Women

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It’s the phrase that will be a lasting sentiment to the significance of possibly electing the first female Democratic nominee and US president, thanks to Hillary Clinton. At a rally on Tuesday, April 26 after winning 4 out of 5 states in the Acela Primary (Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware) she boldly stated that if playing the “woman card” meant focusing on women’s healthcare, paid family leave and equal pay, “then deal me in!”.

No matter who you may be voting for or which way you lean, there is something to be said about having a female leader run for the highest office in the country. We have posted numerous articles about the statistical evidence showing how beneficial it is to have diversity and gender equality in any sphere of influence.

We have also posted a number of articles about the state of one issue in particular we feel strongly about – reproductive rights. The truth of the matter is that the majority of decisions being made about women’s healthcare is being done by straight, white, men.

One of the most interesting statements made about gender equality came when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked Hillary Clinton what the makeup of her future cabinet would be if she were elected president, citing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s history setting precedent making half his cabinet women “because it’s 2015” he said during a press conference. Here’s how Hillary responded:

“Well, I am going to have a cabinet that looks like America, and 50 percent of America is women, right?” she answered, not specifically confirming she will ensure a 50/50 male/female cabinet like Justin Trudeau, but her answer regarding choosing a cabinet that looks like America would ideally also include people of color, different ages, differently-abled people and LGBT staff.

Not too long before this MSNBC Town Hall, Hillary spoke to Cosmopolitan Magazine about the same issue, and her answer was essentially that gender equality should reflect the general makeup of America, which right now it is not, especially in government.

“That is certainly my goal. A very diverse Cabinet representing the talents and experience of the entire country. And since we are a 50-50 country, I would aim to have a 50-50 Cabinet,” she said.

It’s not just about gender equality for the sake of equality, there are very positive tangible results when women and minorities are allowed to be part of decision-making at an equal rate as men. Think Progress’ Laurel Raymond states that women in politics goes beyond just the Hillary Clinton factor, because although women make up 50% of the population and no half the workforce, we are only 19% of Congress, and that is considered a “record high”.

“This year has a potential to be a watershed for women’s representation…Plus, there’s evidence that electing more women is something that could make a real difference for the country as a whole,” she writes. Citing psychology, political science, and economic studies, Laurel outlines a few distinct advantages to women running for office at the highest level – closing the gender gap, creating role models for women in the community, and encouraging even more women to run for office.

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“If there were more women in power, it’s likely that more women would run for positions of power…And, it would probably change how people collectively think about women as well. Many studies have found that when people picture a prototypical “leader,” they think of a man — and are thus more likely to tap men for promotions or candidacy. Having more easy, salient examples of female leaders is important in large part because it could shift subconscious biases so that they better match the reality — women can be just as effective leaders as men,” she concludes.

A great example of Hillary Clinton’s front-and-center presence this election and being an effective leader is the way she is using her voice to draw attention to reproductive rights. There have been numerous debates on both the Republican and Democratic side, and the issue of abortion has certainly not been brought up in proportionate to the increased amount of anti-abortion bills being pushed in state legislatures every week since those debunked undercover Planned Parenthood videos were released last summer.

In the most recent Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton voiced her disdain that this is not an issue, a clear indication she has been listening to the many pro-choice organizations who consistently cried foul at every debate where the issue was not mentioned.

She is of course not the only Presidential candidate to speak about abortion in a way that empowers and allows women to make the right choice for themselves. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been very vocal about his stance also, telling Fox News’ Brett Baier he doesn’t believe in government interfering in a woman’s personal health decision.

At a point in our history when it seems as if reproductive rights are regressing, it is very important for men to speak up about women having the opportunity to decide which option is best for themselves, as every circumstance is different, we cannot afford to be dogmatic and look at this in a very black and white manner.

But let’s also be clear, the impact of having more women in government is going to dramatically change the way women’s issues are debating and decided upon from a legislative point of view.

Whether you are for or against you, you cannot deny the “Hillary effect” that is happening across the country and indeed the world. Yes, she is an incredibly polarizing figure and the media portrayal of her can be incredibly bipolar at times (which does not held push forward any sort of portrayal of accurate facts) but her front-and-center presence this election is no doubt going to speak volumes to women across the country, if history is anything to go by.

In 1992, a year after the infamous Anita Hill trial which exposed the government’s problematic view and treatment of sexual harassment, more women ran for public office than ever before. It was dubbed ‘The year of the woman’ which sounds entirely condescending (why should women only reach political heights of power in only one 12 month stretch??) but positive based on how it improved female representation in government.

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Sadly, since then, the needle has not been moved much, and here we are again in a year where it is predicted more women will run and win certain seats in the House of Representatives. The issue of gender politics is not pandering to women, it is a fundamental understanding that there are distinct and different barriers women face when it comes to public office. The “woman card” has also been brought up in highly negative ways by Donald Trump, claiming women and abortion doctors should be punished for abortions and zeroing in on Fox News’ Megan Kelly despite numerous other journalists going after him publicly.

This US presidential election, along with the many Senate and Congress races happening simultaneously, is going to be a game changer for women because women are unapologetically speaking up about their issues and allowing them to be seen through a national lens like never before. Abortion should be discussed by the highest office in the land, equal pay is something our President should champion, racial equality is not just a minority issue anymore, it is an American issue that should be championed by our legislators at every cost.

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Gender politics is not about ignoring men, it is about bringing the half the population whose voices and needs have been pushed by the wayside for many years, being told they need to “wait in line” for the bigger, more important topics to be front an center, and showing the country that women running for office is not a gimmick, but a necessity.

The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor puts it very succinctly about why focusing on gender dynamics is important in this election.

“Reaching a critical mass of diverse team members, rather than just having token representation, isn’t just something that will make for good photo opportunities, or underscore a leader’s feminism. It’s a key factor in helping the women leaders in the group be heard, treated as more than token representatives and have real influence over critical decisions by the group,” she writes.

DEAL US IN!

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  1. Pingback: Want To Understand US Politics In 2016? Listen To 'Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff' - GirlTalkHQ

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