Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Disappearance of the Soccer Moms

I was blogging away about the demise of the soccer mom as a political entitity that garnered attention (as a spinoff of my previous post) when I clicked the wrong button and poof! into the ether it went. I had lists going and everything so this won't quite capture the previous posting, but I'll try. I was pondering the fact that women's issues have disappeared from the campaign this year. We're talking about the war, the economy and health care. All issues that affect women in some way, but are not specifically about women. We're not talking about abortion, child care, the wage gap, sexual harrassment, rape, getting more women into executive and government positions, etc. So I thought, well, let's find out what the candidates are saying.

On the Bush side first . . . His web site makes it hard to find information about women's issues. I decide to go with a link under Agenda for America entitled Helping Families. Apparently, women only exist as a part of a family structure. The first 7 items have something to do with health care. I don't think all these things are bad, but I don't think they all have much to do with families necessarily or with women. It reminds me of when I was in sales and selling a product that didn't have a lot of benefits, so I'd take one benefit and spin it lots of different ways to make it seem like it had more to offer. Finally, we get to an item called "Creating a more Family Friendly workplace". Under it are two items--Flextime/Comp time and Telework. Neither of these promise that much and neither discuss making it into law. The next item is one that I personally found scary. Entitled "Keeping Children Safe," it discusses abstinence-only sex education, drug testing in schools, and internet pornography. All of these are extremely short-sighted programs. The final item on the family agenda had to do with Veterans.

On the Kerry side . . . Much easier to find information. Two clicks "More Issues-->Women" and you come to a page with a clear agenda for women: work/family balance, wage gap, reproductive rights, increased access to education. Very clear. There's also a section under communities for women to work together on issues that are important to them--and of course, to help elect Kerry.

So here's my list of things not addressed well--completely personal--and from the viewpoint of a married mother of two:

  • support women's rights at work--meaning everything from discrimination in reward and promotion to sexual harrassment to maternity (and paternity) leaves
  • support for women who choose to stay at home--a tax break, the ability to earn social security, I don't know, get creative (read The Price of Motherhood sometime)
  • fund education and encourage states and local school districts to reform education so that it fits with current families' real lives. After school programs are fine, but all-day school with the option of an hour or two (as much is needed) after that would be better. They system functions on this idea that somebody is home at 3:00. This would go a long way toward improving test scores, decreasing drug use and teenage pregnancy (less free time/more time studying).
  • While I'm dreaming . . . how about a required ratio of women in the senate and or house? Or at least some programs to encourage and support female candidates?

Well, that's my rant for the day.