by Tracee Sioux
Over drinks, after the convention, I spoke to young college-aged single women who voted for Obama and tried to see where they were coming from.
What I saw was that they haven't experienced sexism because they aren't mothers yet.
In the same conversation they told me about their dreams of a sexual Utopia in which they get to have sex with whoever they want and still reap the rewards and intimacy that comes from commitment. They told me all about their ultimate goal of bisexual polyamoury and truly believe it will work out for them.
One told me about her undying love and insanely romantic feelings for her perfect new husband, in the same sentence she professed her frustration at not finding the right BFF+sex.
Which just goes to show they still believe in fairy tales, be they ones from porn magazines or Disney.
In my head I kept thinking of that old Ronald Reagan line, I will forgive you your youth.
I sure felt conservative. I was wild in my youth, but experience makes one more realistic, I guess.
They seemed profoundly ungrateful for all the women/mothers who fought for their rights and autonomy. Maybe they were just oblivious?
How can take such new found and hard won rights for granted so easily? I guess if you are born to them it's easier.
It was as if they believed men had generously offered our rights up, rather than women having to viciously fight for them.
Don't you realize that you aren't guaranteed to have maternity leave? That most maternity leave is unpaid and you don't get it if you work for a small company? They are still allowed to fire pregnant women for being pregnant? That they are letting more men and single women work from home than mothers? Can't you see a few years into the future when you'll have children? Fight for it now so it will be there when you have children. You can't understand how painful it is to "choose," I told them.
They evidently haven't really heard enough about motherhood discrimination or how women are being subtly pushed out of the workforce. I don't think they had even heard what it was.
I had an academic understanding of my "choices" when I was their age too. My problem was that I believed a lot more choices would be available to me than there were when I got there. I suppose that's what those young women believe too.
The good news is that we've done our job so well in education that they don't experience sexism until they go get a job and get pregnant.
The bad news is that we've haven't rallied them to their own future causes.
I suppose every generation of feminists have felt this way. I'm quite positive I felt this way about my mother and her choices.
"I didn't want to vote for her just because she's a woman," they told me.
Wait, isn't that Rush Limbaugh's line? God knows I've been denied plenty of opportunities "just because I'm a woman." Isn't turn-about fair play? Evidently, not for them.
One young woman said at first she saw no hope for either Obama or Hillary and was prepared to support John Edwards. It wasn't until they started gaining momentum and coming to Texas that she chose sides.
They said they did a ton of research on Obama's site and I believe them. They said they made an educated decision. I believe that too.
She said that she wasn't anti-Hillary. What did it for her was the idea that Obama wouldn't take Political Action Committee or lobbyist money.
But, I also saw these same young women fight tooth and nail and take "Obama-sides" on issues that weren't between Obama and Hillary.
I hope those young women are right about Barack Obama. I really, really do.
With every passing generation there will - God Willing - be fewer and fewer issues for feminists. Eventually, the goal is that every young woman will have every reason to look at a feminist grandmother and not be able to relate to a word she's saying. That's success. We're just not there yet.
(But, maybe a little gratitude wouldn't kill us.)
We're just not there yet.