Why I’m voting for my sisters


Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.

Likely, you’ve already decided who it is you’re voting for tomorrow, and my following words aren’t aimed at swaying you one way or another. I write only to explain why I’ve decided to vote for my sisters.

As I prepare to graduate in a matter of days, my twin sisters will be heading to college in a little more than a year. When they start at their new schools, we’ll be starting to see the policies of the victorious administration going into effect.

They’re going to feel the policy changes in the context I’m in right now. And I feel I have no choice but to vote for them.

They deserve to go to college in a climate that’s better than the one I went to school in.

They deserve to have a Michigan House of Representatives that doesn’t ban its speakers when they reference a body part by its anatomically correct name.

They deserve to be able to make choices about their bodies and their health care.

While, no, these aren’t exactly Proposals 7, 8 and 9, they still are issues on the table this election.

When we legislate inequality by giving women less control over their bodies while simultaneously teaching less about sexual education and taking funding away from sexual health resources, we directly are contributing to furthering disproportional social norms.

Pregnancy and reproductive health aren’t things that should be legislated with a broad brush. What these things mean to women aren’t universally the same. They are contingent on the circumstances of each individual, depending entirely on their situation.

In 2003, about 78 percent of women featured in men’s magazines were hypersexualized or objectified. And as we spend bigger chunks of our days consuming media, this isn’t a trend that’s decreasing.

We’re telling our young people simply to not have sex, while raising them in a culture saturated with sexual images.

We can’t change the fact there are numerous female celebrities in this country who have achieved great celebrity and wealth because of a sex tape.

We can’t legislate against rape jokes, sexually biased movies or how businesses choose to market their products — and no one’s trying to. But we can enact legislation that doesn’t amplify this climate by further marginalizing women from getting involved in the decision-making processes.

Today, in 2012, women still only make 77 cents to every dollar earned by a man. Women only make up 17 percent of Congress and 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and hold less than a quarter of senior media management positions.

The mechanisms that shape our society largely are missing female perspective. I’m not suggesting we mandate quotas of women to have in boardrooms, but we need to critically examine how certain policies have far-reaching ways of helping us get there, or keeping us out.

According to the 2010 Census, there are about 10 million single mothers in the U.S., and more than half of them are waiting on overdue child support. Out of all industrialized nations, we have the most inflexible maternity leave policies.

If women aren’t involved in running the show, and the long-term implications of policies affecting us are misunderstood, the biological burdens of being different manifest in ways that affect our professional mobility and our bank accounts.

Before I had full prescription drug coverage, I was paying $70 a month for the birth control I’m prescribed for medical reasons. For my wallet, composed of tips and student loans, this was a real economic issue.

Things, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Violence Against Women Act, are legislative measures that work to minimize the long-term damage of obstacles known only to the female experience.

Not getting paid the same as a man doing the same job obviously is not OK, and the process for women seeking justice should be as accessible as possible.

The court process in this country costs money. Women who have been abused face not only a future they didn’t choose, but potentially a huge economic detour they didn’t ask for.

To free abused women from having to structure their lives based on fearing for their safety, it is essential the pursuit of their abusers is fast, effective and funded.

Many people I’ve talked to who are voting Republican aren’t doing so simply because they don’t agree with abortion or are anti-women’s rights, they just see other issues as more important. I can’t argue with that.

The reality is that in a two-party system, a lot of the time you’re going to end up voting for a candidate you don’t always agree with.

But for me, this is my number one. I’m voting for my sisters, biological and otherwise, who make up 51 percent of this country. We aren’t agenda setters or a special interest group, and we simply deserve better.

Abby Wood is a guest columnist at The State News and a journalism senior. Reach her at woodabby@msu.edu.

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