From the CBC a few days ago:
First of all, I don’t see any indication that the leader of the either of the two biggest parties spoke at a large “Women Vote” conference, even though, you know, they do. Vote. Second, how anyone can see statistics like that and argue the irrelevance/borderline aggressive insanity of feminism is beyond me. To highlight:
- Almost half of single, widowed or divorced women over the age of 65 live in poverty
- more than 40 per cent of unattached women under 65 fall below the poverty line
- Of the approximately 237,000 workers on minimum wage in Ontario, 61 per cent are women
Those first two say nearly the same thing, and in combination spell out that almost half of all women functioning economically without men (or another partner) are not making living wages, and doesn’t even mention the impact of single motherhood. Since these kinds of statistics threaten to break me sometimes, I can focus on the much more manageable question of that headline.
Would we ever see a term like that used to describe the attempt to target men’s votes? Well, ‘men’ aren’t discussed as a unique demographic category, because ‘men’s issues’ are generally known as just ‘issues’ in an election. But beyond that, I can’t imagine that words that evoke rom-com imagery, the idea of being swept off one’s feet and becoming somewhat irrationally blinded to reality would be applied to anyone but women.
The heavy political issues covered in Hampton’s speech make the word choice worse. It’s a subtle, near-thoughtless reminder that women’s issues are less-than, likened to cheesy romantic fantasies, and that women as voters are not all that rational, making decisions because we’re being courted/swept off our feet by a knight in shining armour with the unfortunately comic name of ‘Howard’. Hampton himself adds to my pain with his joke that he wishes he could start every morning before a crowd of enthusiastic women. The specifics of the statistics mentioned provide an added bonus–we’re talking about the ways in which women unattached to (usually) men are struggling based on systemic conditions, and the CBC is telling us that believing that this matters and that the NDP platform is the one best addressing it is akin to being ‘wooed’ into a relationship that would generally contribute to economic stability.
I’m obviously going to be voting NDP. I’m thrilled with the (female) candidate I get to cast my vote for in this riding, and while I’m never 100% behind everything any party says, I’m confident the NDP comes closest. But that doesn’t mean that Howard and I are dating.