The 2016 presidential election is a milestone for me since this is the first in which I can vote. Keeping up with candidates’ positions on policies and polling results has become a habit so I may be informed when Election Day rolls around.
According to a recent New York Times article, however, Republican candidates feel female voters, like myself, are only interested in politics when candidates take a “softer tone.”
“[Republican] candidates who once vied to throw the hardest rhetorical punch are campaigning in gentler terms, emphasizing their compassion and human frailty, and especially their concern for women and families,” the article said.
Reading this felt like a slight—like my interest in the presidential race as a young woman was out of place amongst the male bravado dominating the Republican race so far.
“The Republican presidential race has seemed at times like a contest of schoolyard insults and chest-thumping machismo,” the article said. “With Donald J. Trump leading the way, the campaign has repeatedly descended into a kind of primal struggle among men, each seeking to outdo his rivals through brutish intimidation.”
Travis Unger, a junior criminal justice and political science major, and chairman of Temple College Republicans, said Republicans, unlike Democrats, appeal to American people as a whole.
“On the Democratic side, you see a lot of pandering to certain groups of people and I feel like on the Republican side it’s more of voter-wide thing instead of just specific groups,” he said.
Laura Glennon, a junior political science major and vice president of the Temple College Democrats, told me her thoughts about Republican candidates’ concerns for women.
“I don’t think that [the Republican candidates] care and it’s obviously a big concern of mine. I think it’s very important candidates talk about [women’s issues],” Glennon said. “I think a lot of people think we have reached a point where gender is equal and I think that’s just incorrect.”
How women are treated has been a topic in Republican candidates’ conversations and not only because of Trump’s comments about Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton. Issues like defunding Planned Parenthood have been discussed throughout the 2016 presidential race, which could have huge consequences for women nationwide.
“Much of what Planned Parenthood does is STD/STI screening providing contraception, wellness checks and sexual education sessions,” The Temple News reported in October. “Planned Parenthood offers counseling for the relationship aspects of sex and sexuality, offers services for victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse or assault and cancer screenings.”
I believe if Republican candidates are discussing Planned Parenthood and other important issues like abortion or the gendered wage gap, they should not be thinking of the female electorate only in terms of “frailty and human compassion.”
These candidates should be aware of the positive impact such services have on women’s health care. A fact that is often overlooked is women have been an integral part of American history through the good, bad and ugly.
Through the historical milestones, like the Lewis and Clark Expeditions and the Underground Railroad, we all know the big female players like Sacagawea and Harriet Tubman amongst many other examples. These instantly recognizable names are not the only women who were integral parts of American history.
Women have celebrated every national celebration, grieved for every national tragedy and have been participants in American history since the country’s conception in both big and small ways.
If candidates continue to speak to and consider female voters as a “special kind” of voter, and not an integral part of their constituency, I hope those feelings are reflected on voting day.
Grace Shallow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.