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Women’s voting motives hot topic

Duffy

– In recent weeks, a narrative has formed on the right aimed at dismissing concerns about the war on women: Claiming that anyone who strongly considers reproductive rights when choosing to vote is a vagina-obsessed slattern whose nymphomania overwhelms other considerations.

It really took off when Sandra Fluke spoke at the Democratic convention, and now has been reduced to a cute catchphrase that Michelle Malkin trotted out on Fox News: “Vote with your lady smarts, not with your lady parts.” The narrative incorrectly assumes that focusing on economic issues leads to voting for Mitt Romney, and ignores that female voters actually support President Obama because of economic reasons.

But the belief that female voters are hormone-addled sex addicts isn’t limited to Obama supporters. Apparently, that’s a wide-ranging stereotype Republicans will happily apply to all female voters, especially if they believe that they can redirect this supposed sex obsession toward their own candidates. Republican Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin is running these radio ads in a bid for re-election:

EMMA: Hey, Olivia. What’s it gonna be?

OLIVIA: Hi, Emma. Hmmm. Latte, cappuccino? I can’t make up my mind.

EMMA: That’s how I felt about this election ... until I took a good look at the candidates.

OLIVIA: And?

EMMA: I’m for Sean Duffy. He’s pretty cool, actually. He’s part of this new generation of leaders, the kind we need in Washington. He’s a good husband and father and he fights for small businesses, like mine. So I can keep the doors open and even hire more people.

OLIVIA: He’s the cute one, right?

The portrayal of women as fickle, easily distracted by their own physical urges, and caught up in small-minded domestic concerns reads like something straight out of anti-suffragist literature of the 19th century. Conservative pundits fell all over themselves with rage over an ad featuring actress Lena Dunham that used a silly sex joke. But that ad, unlike this one, avoided suggesting that women vote based on a candidate’s looks or that women are inherently fickle or that women put as much or more emphasis on a candidate’s family life as on his policies.

Women have had the vote for 92 years now. Maybe once we cross the century mark, campaigns will finally accept we vote for roughly the same reasons as men.

Amanda Marcotte wrote this for Slate.

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