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The DNC and “Women’s Issues” as “People Issues”

September 13, 2012


(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sandra Fluke’s speech last week was incredible. Incredibly powerful. She hit right into everything that is wrong with the way the GOP leadership has treated women and “women’s issues” (I put that in air-quotes because I hate separating “women’s issues” from “people” issues which are always assumed to be “dude” issues). She laid it out so well: Republicans didn’t want to give her a spot on what turned out to be an all-male panel at a congressional hearing about birth control, and Rush Limbaugh called her a slut. Republican leadership didn’t repudiate Rush, while Obama and Democrats listened. Get this, not only did they listen, they gave her a microphone at the DNC so she could amplify her voice. It’s moving and straightforward. The presence of women at the DNC has been enough for at least one guy to call it a veritable “vagina monologues” (What a ridiculous comparison! They would never be allowed to yell “cunt” on stage at the DNC. But we can dream.)

Republican leadership relegates “women’s issues” to the back-burner. They say that we are diluting the political process by talking about our pesky lady parts and demanding equal pay. The real fight is about The Economy, which they always seem to view as separate and distinct from “women’s issues” despite the high number of female breadwinners and women in the workforce. Oh, and the economic incentives for birth control coverage and other preventive measures.

Democrats are willing to talk about women’s issues. In fact, the DNC had them at the forefront. Abortion is Democrats’ Issue Now. It looks like some people have started to see that maybe women are in fact – get this – people. And that women’s issues are people issues. And that women’s issues are economic issues. And that women’s issues aren’t wedge issues – they’re real issues to real people – people who vote in droves, people who make up more than half of the population. Hearing Sandra Fluke amplified over that crowd of delegates symbolizes so much more than some girl who was called a slut having a platform. As PPFA President Cecile Richards pointed out, it’s about women having a place at the table: not just being “on the menu.”

Check out my favorite speeches from the DNC:
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Sandra Fluke, women’s rights advocate
Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America
Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Senate candidate
Michelle Obama, First Lady


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