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Politics Without Gender


A vivid example from this morning. A tweet from Ian Miles Cheong, one of Elon’s fascist pals, is making the dunk circuit.

The following discussion mentioned moving the Overton window rightward and fascism generally. I commented that it seemed strange not to mention the explicit masculinity discourse. One of the commenters replied that he often writes that gender essentialism is central to fascism, just didn’t there. I replied that it’s active misogyny, not neutral “gender essentialism.” He agreed, and that was that.

Likewise, the gender elephant is sitting under the rug of poll and election discourse, but a great many commentators, mostly men, seem quite comfortable navigating the lumpy floor.

The polls and pundits have been wrong for the last congressional election and several special elections, in which Democrats  and pro-woman movements “did better than expected.” That might, under some circumstances, cause a re-evaluation of the expectations, but the expectation that women are not political actors and their issues unimportant is bedrock.

Megan McArdle admitted last week that she got that wrong, but she didn’t go much beyond it to look at what the effects on November’s election might be. Or what a Republican response might be beyond kinder discourse on women’s problems.

Twelve states may have measures to protect women’s health rights on the ballot in November. (gift link to WaPo article) Maryland and New York definitely will have initiatives; groups in Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Florida, Missouri, Arkansas, and South Dakota are working to place initiatives on their ballots. Bucking the tide, a group in Iowa wants a measure in their state constitution to ban abortion. The issue will be significant in those elections whether the measures are on the ballots or not.

It won’t be absent from the other 37 states, either. Kansas, Michigan, California, Vermont, Kentucky, and Ohio have recently had women’s health care on their ballots, with only Kentucky voters refusing to protect women. The issue keeps making headlines, most recently in Texas. And the rest of us are watching.

It seems to be hard for anyone who hasn’t experienced menstrual cramps or the agony of a missed period to incorporate these factors into their thinking. Much easier to think about economic factors, which do not include how much it costs to have a baby and raise a child. Inflation, yes! Cost of fast food, yes! That other is awoman’s problem.

My feelings are physical when I read about theTexas Attorney General attacking Kate Cox while she suffers with a failed pregnancy. I suspect I am not alone in this. Men who admit fellow humanity can also be horrified at these atrocities.

Many of us have made up our minds how to vote. There will be advertisements to remind and convince others.

But so far, most pundits and pollsters avoid the idea of a “woman’s issue” driving an election. Like all those who predicted the 2022 “Red Wave,” they will be wrong.

Meanwhile, I see an email from a publication touting “What soccer has in common with elections” in my inbox.

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