Irina Carmon on Women and the 2012 Election

Last week Irina Carmon delivered a talk on the role of women’s rights issues in the 2012 campaign. She was not hesitant to display her content with the results of the election in the realm of women’s issues, including representation in Congress and abortion. Carmon attributes the spotlight placed on women’s issues this election on a mutual interest convergence between politics and women’s rights. In the realm of politics, these interests center on public opinion and success in the voting polls to ensure reelection. Carmon also mentioned three aspects of the 2012 elections that drove women’s rights into the conversation: 1) “Republicans got too honest,” 2) “Democrats stopped apologizing for being the party of and for women,” and 3) “women (and their male allies) stepped up.” In my opinion, the last tenant, women stepping up, played an important role in making this mutual interest apparent to politicians. Political gaffes were faced with public outcry, such as the response to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s statement against Planned Parenthood. More importantly, women realized and acted upon the power of their vote.

An attendee raised the interesting question about what can be said for women who block progress in the realm of women’s rights issues. Carmon asserted her openness and acceptance of each woman’s own opinion; however, she did note the fact that with so few women in Congress (though progress has been made this fall), the few dissenting women who do block progress still have a potent effect on legislature. The idea of women who block progress may also be applied to the discussion that often comes up in class on the stigmatization of the word ‘feminist.’ Does a rejection of the term ‘feminist’ or a silence on women’s rights issues serve as an action against progress? What are the benefits in entertaining the opposing views that some women may have on women’s rights issues?

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