Romney’s Case to Women Fails to Convince - KansasCity.com
The problem for Romney is that most women don’t live such fairytale lives. And the candidate’s obvious devotion to one woman doesn’t have a great deal of relevance to them as voters. Women are increasingly the household breadwinners, and more women now graduate from college than men. Yet women still earn less then men do, even in comparable positions. They tend to do more of the caring for elderly parents and are more likely to leave the workforce temporarily or limit their hours to see to the needs of young children.
The challenge for both the Romney and the Obama campaigns now is to court undecided female voters, a large enough demographic that they could swing the election. To that end, let me make a suggestion: Stop viewing us as a needy constituency and treat us more as equals.
In this, Obama has the edge so far. He shows it in the words he chooses when discussing issues that affect women more directly than men, such as unequal pay and contraception. He also walks the talk, as when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
The candidate who will win the undecided women’s vote will be able to honestly discuss inequities that face women, especially in the workplace, yet not talk down to them or only to their wombs. It’s about including women as equals without pandering.
Both Romney and Obama can point to strong, intelligent women who were influential in their lives — both of their mothers qualify. Each man has lived through an era in which women’s roles in the home and workplace changed dramatically.
Many female voters are looking for a candidate who understands the difficult choices women are compelled to make with respect to family and work, who understands the pressure women feel from society’s often-outmoded notions of gender roles. They want a candidate who can show he has learned from women’s experiences during his lifetime, and empathized and stood alongside them when necessary.
Romney’s awkward debate gaffe about “binders full of women” only highlighted what many suspect: that he’s not comfortable discussing the problems many women face.