I am an unapologetic dyed-in-the-cotton type democrat. (wool seems uber Republican) I stand strong for the philosophy and programs that are frequently presented and backed by the Democratic party line. With that said, however, it is getting harder and harder to feel valued and respected as a voter, who happens to be a woman, by these fellows that I often help vote into office.
For me, it started with Clinton. Eliot Spitzer brought it closer to home. New York, that is. I was a big Clinton fan. Yet as much as we want to believe the Monica Lewisnsky scandal was more about his sexual appetite then, say, his political leadership qualities, it bothered me a great deal. We’re all adults though, and everyone has sex, or most of us, at some point. So why can’t these men be honest and upfront about their sexual needs? Oh, it’s private you think? Great, keep it private. It becomes everyone’s business because often these acts are done dishonestly and disgracefully. They often involve secret meetings, financial disclosure issues, obstruction of power, and a vast umbrella of other character destroying behaviors.
And if that’s not enough we have to see the sad wives and distraught children who suffer the public humiliation, we have to see unattractive photos of sleazy, scantily clad women and photos of evidence, undergarments, cigars, hotels and apartments where the notorious dalliances take place. Because after all, this has nothing to do with the role of a leader and this is so much more interesting then important issues like the economy, war, education and healthcare. This, of course you remember, is a private matter.
I believe being honest and upfront are pretty important character traits if you are the president, or the governor, or senator, or everyman, and ahem, everywoman. Being a faithful spouse is not part of the job description, but I imagine somewhere there might be something to do with how one behaves regarding their views on human rights. The way all humans are treated, even women. I think it might be interesting to find out specifically how these candidates and elected officials view women. This of course would be difficult to determine, what with all that privacy. What evidence would absolutely qualify how a man views women? We can’t exactly ask and expect an honest answer. Can we?
In the case of former Governor Eliot Spitzer, we don’t need to. Someone else did, according to Time Magazine, Spitzer was asked why he didn't simply have an affair, he explained that buying sex from prostitutes was less of a "violation" of his marriage than a love affair with an "emotional component" would have been. Spitzer explained, "I know this is parsing it very thin, but the emotional component would have in some ways been a worse violation." Spitzer thought it best to have sex with women that had very little value or importance to him. In this way, he was somehow more respectful to his wife and daughters and all the other women out there, except the less valued ones. Some women are worthy of emotional attachment and some are simply sexual objects. Who gets to decide this and what must us little women do to become worthy? Exactly how worthy can you be if your husband is out there sleeping with prostitutes in an effort to not violate your marriage too much?
It probably isn’t found imbedded in the Politician’s Handbook, but treating women with dignity and respect, equality and value should be a given, or at least a real ambition at this point. Constituents are voted in based on their views and beliefs and how they best represent those that vote for them. I should be able to know if a candidate is blatantly treating women as sub-humans. A little strong? Yes I agree, but I feel strongly about this. I don’t agree with the idea that this behavior can be separated from the character and leadership ability of someone in public office. I don’t expect that we should all be flawless and perfect individuals. I can’t dictate how someone else’s marriage should be structured but I don’t imagine in most of these situations the wives are informed and complacent partners to these crimes.
I don’t imagine the women that were of little importance were in this position because they hoped or believed they were not valued. Although I am certain they were not innocent bystanders, either. I don’t imagine the young intern had the emotional wisdom to know that she was not ever going to be an equal partner in her relationship. I have very little tolerance for women that contribute to this model and the men that continue to disregard the value of women.
It’s time to push for Equal Rights for women. It’s time for more women to run for office and represent women’s issues. It’s time for men to be able to look at their daughters and wives and expect from themselves the same they expect for their daughters. How many politicians would ask that their daughters be mistreated, devalued and thought of with little regard? It’s time for a new round of sensitivity training with measurable outcomes. It’s time for me to carefully consider if the candidates I vote for truly value my vote, if not I will be looking for someone who does. And please, keep your privates private!