We are in the midst of one of the most exciting times in politics: the months leading up to the presidential election. This is the time when each candidate and his respective party can show America what they want to change about our government and improve about our country. This is the time for all politicians to use their tremendous public exposure to let the people know exactly how they want to resolve some of the most relevant and pressing issues that our country faces today, especially the state of our economy. This is the time, and all anyone can seem to talk about is women.
Politicians on both sides routinely tout the economy as the most important—if not the sole—issue at stake in this election. And rightfully so: The unemployment rate is 8.3 percent and no immediate improvement is in sight. What’s more, our national debt is at an all-time high. Each party should be focusing on exactly how they plan to improve the state of our economy. Empty platitudes about job creation and deficit cutting are not enough: we need attention paid to actual policy proposals. Yet, rather than focusing on detailed, substantive economic programs, both Democrats and Republicans have spent the past few months deliberating on the female body and various laws and rights associated with it, including abortion, contraceptives, and female income.
Don’t get me wrong, the issue of women’s rights is tremendously important and needs to be discussed. The American public needs to know what stance each presidential candidate and his respective party take on the various facets of women’s rights. These are the politicians who will be in office, making decisions that will directly affect how all women in this country live and thrive. As a woman myself, I am concerned with what each candidate believes and plans on doing to help protect my rights; however, this is only to a point. I do believe that the media and the politicians have become so engrossed in women’s issues as to leave the most important questions almost unanswered.
The Democratic National Convention, which just took place, was the party’s chance for to lay out their plan for the next four years. Yet starting on the first day, figures who have made their careers on women’s issues took to the stage, such as Nancy Keenan who is the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The lack of focus on the economy in favor of a focus on women is not just the fault of all the politicians involved in this political season; it is also the fault of the press. The media is thoroughly enjoying the focus on women. It is taking what politicians say about women and making sure that the entire country hears it verbatim ad nauseum. Take, for instance, Rush Limbaugh’s controversy with Sandra K. Fluke. Fluke tried to testify in support of contraception, and Limbaugh used that fact to call her a “slut.” This incident earned a lot of media attention that took away from discussions about the economy. Another incident worth mentioning is that of Representative Todd Akin(R-MO) and his “legitimate rape” fiasco. While the words that Akin spoke showed ignorance and insensitivity, they created a massive media frenzy that drew the time and attention of both the Democrats and Republicans that should have been spent and focused on the state of the economy and plans to revive it.
Our country’s fixation with the female body needs to be toned down in favor of what many insist is the most important issue of this year’s election: the economy. While both campaigns tout this as an election about the economy, the greatest brouhahas during this election season concern issues of women and their bodies. These issues are legitimate and deserve some attention, but should not occupy the spotlight for the entirety of the campaign season.
Josephine Volovetz ’14, a Crimson editorial writer, is a Molecular and Cellular Biology concentrator in Eliot house.