The Wrong Kind of Attention to Women Voters

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October 24, 2000

“There have been some significant paradigm shifts that affect American women in very negative ways: For women, the areas of personal well-being are cause for concern,” Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI), said yesterday. She was addressing a Capitol Hill audience at the forum, Women and Election 2000, where she released a new BLI report that analyzes data relevant to women’s progress during the 1900s, Gaining Ground: A Profile of American Women in the 20th Century.

“First, our report reveals incredible progress for women. Women are living longer and staying healthier into old age. Look at the miracle that has taken place in regard to maternal mortality-more than a 90 percent drop [in this century]. In education, women have made phenomenal progress. In terms of economics women are contributing in a major way to the economic boom.

“But all this good news has a down side to it,” Crouse continued. “Our report shows the dismal outcomes experienced by individual women who chased the wrong dreams.” Dr. Crouse pointed to the fact that women have suffered a loss in “connectedness,” noting that “the American family has eroded seriously in the 20th Century, particularly in the post World War II period.

“There are signs that women are doing something about this-some are making the necessary course corrections. The trend in women’s employment status has currently taken a downward turn-the first such dip this century in times of prosperity. Previous drops were in the early 70s and 80s, both times of recession. There is a corresponding increase in the number of women not in the labor force. This trend appears to be a matter of women choosing to stay home since the economy is such that women who want to work can find jobs.”

And how is the political process during this election year responding to American women? Trivializing might not be too harsh a word according to experts on politics and sociology addressing the forum.

“In some ways we should be flattered by all of this attention,” commented Danielle Crittenden, author of What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell us: Why Happiness Eludes Modern Woman. “Women matter more today than any previous election in history.

“[Yet at the same time] a candidate’s position on an issue is less important than whether they can connect with the voters. Both candidates, for example, had to put an appearance in on Oprah.

“No one appears insulted by this. How did this happen? The answer lies partly in the much discussed gender gap. What is important to understand is that the gender gap is not simply women voting differently than men. The so-called gender gap is really a marriage gapToday, Gore may lead among women overall but married women prefer Bush.”

Perhaps, according to Betty Aukerman, a homeschooling mother and advocate, it’s because “we face another crisis which has the potential to divide this nation. Our political leaders have not been held accountable for their moral actionsIf I expect truth and honesty from my three-year-old, ought not I expect it from our nation’s leaders elected to highest office?

“As we approach this election, one of the primary issues on the ballot is what role ought government to have in our lives,” said Aukerman.

The answer, at least as far as so-called Generation X women go, is not much, said Jana Novak, co-author of Tell Me Why: A Father Answers his Daughter’s Questions about God. “Women of my generation are more independent, in an entrepreneurial sense,” she said. “We are true democratic capitalists.

“Generation X came of age in the 80s[a decade] that taught my generation to embrace freedom and economic opportunity.

“After many decades of thinking the government had all the answers, [my generation] realizes that the government should not and cannot provide all the answers.”

A complete copy of Gaining Ground: A Profile of American Women in the 20th Century is available upon request.

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