12 February 2008

"No Way am I Voting for a Woman!"

"No Way am I Voting for a Woman!"
by topazz
02/12/2008, 7:24 PM

Recently, high school juniors in a US History class were asked: "Of those here who will be eligible to vote in the upcoming November Presidential election, which candidate are you considering; Clinton, Obama, or McCain? I’m embarrassed to say it was my son who yelled out what I have up there as the subject header. His sister is in the same class, otherwise I'd probably never have known about it. According to my daughter he got a big laugh and spitballs volleyed at his head, but their teacher (a woman in her 30's) just shook her head and sat down. She was quiet for several minutes before the class finally noticed that she wasn't laughing with them.

Disclosing this is bound to get me dodging a few fray spitballs here myself, so to those who profess to raising perfect and politically correct children, congratulations and more power to you. As for me, I've never subscribed to that old "boys will be boys" way of thinking when it comes to disrupting a class, but even more so on issues like teenage drinking, sex, drugs - and now, misogyny. But while seventeen year-old boys can be many things, mature doesn’t always come in first on the list. Still, this was what we parents call a “teachable” moment, and I sat down with both of my sons as well as my daughter that night after hearing what happened in history class. We talked - or rather, I talked, about women and power, sexism, discrimination and misogyny, and I explained in simple terms exactly what these things meant. About how it didn't matter that all the girls in that class may have been laughing at his remark; what it implied was dead wrong. Women are fully capable of being President of the United States and they will be, and women are not inferior to men.

Yeah, yeah, we hear you Mom, and we know you're right. But Obama is the man. Obama is cool. Even girls think he is, most of them don't want to vote for Hillary. I looked at my daughter; she was nodding her head and agreeing, she usually never agrees with her brothers. Obama over Hillary. Why, I asked. Why do you think Obama would make a better president than Hillary Clinton, or John McCain? What does he stand for, do any of you even know? What has he said or done, what has he promised, that makes you feel this way?

"He's just cool."

To a teenager, the MySpace generation, the presidential race is visual, mostly all surface, very llittle to do with anything in their day-to-day lives. A couple of years away at college and they'll be completely different people of course, but this is the here and now. Is the presidential race much different for them than watching the Grammys this week? I get the feeling it isn't. Put Obama and Hillary next to each other and what do they see? "He's cool."

Truth is, Obama is cool. But looking at it through their eyes, more and more I'm troubled by perception, about how no matter which candidate - its all about getting that package of perception across. It takes planning, and managers, handlers, stylists, dressers, speechwriters, advance people, spokespeople, audience plants, unbelievable amounts of money. So much money, that only millionaires can become President of the United States.

If my kids don't start reading up and getting themselves familiar with a little more beyond "he's cool", if they don't get serious about this privilege they have of voting, I don't think they deserve to vote at all. They'll be 18 by November, but they'll still be living under my roof.

If they don't get with the program, I may just end up grounding them on election day.

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