CHARLOTTE, NC– Timed to coincide with the U.N.-designated International Women’s Day, organizers hope today’s ‘A Day Without a Woman’ movement will help people realize the contributions women make to society. They are asking women to take the day off from paid and unpaid work, not spend any money, and wear ‘red’; the color of solidarity. In North Carolina, some school districts including Chapel Hill-Carborro canceled classes…but will there be a lasting effect? WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A persistent criticism of Hillary Clinton has been her overly cautious nature, her reluctance to take bold stands, her preparation to the point of predictability. Kate McKinnon of “Saturday Night Live” has taken these traits to parody on her way to an Emmy. But anyone who sees candidate Clinton frozen in that place hasn’t been paying attention this election season.
Of course, Clinton never will be “wild and crazy,” particularly when compared with her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump, the very essence of both. It’s also true that her views on many issues have remained remarkably stable. But those who say Clinton really doesn’t believe in anything only have to look at how, and how frequently, she has spoken with nuance about race to an electorate anxious about the changing demographics and power.
So all of a sudden his party gets it? When Trump was rushing to personally insult Hillary Clinton — whether it was her “look” or her stamina or what goes on in her marriage and why she is to blame — that was fine. Republicans were lining up for an “Attaboy.”
It took the mental image of their own child and/or spouse looking up to, or perhaps being in a room alone with, a man who casually chats about groping women against their will — labeled sexual assault in criminal codes — before GOP leaders could see the light and decide that harsh criticism, not lukewarm justification, was warranted?
No matter what anyone thinks about the politics or policies of Hillary Clinton, no one can deny that the progress the country has made—in the form of more women elected to high office and more women behind the electoral scene—is rooted in the expansion of access to the vote.
But Women’s Equality Day is a good time to remind ourselves that the right to vote has always been contested in this country. This is just as true in 2016 as it was a century ago.
CHARLOTTE– What were midterm voters feeling? That would be concern about jobs and the economy and anxiety over Islamic terrorism and the Ebola virus creeping over American borders. A Democratic “war on women” message that helped Terry McAuliffe become Virginia’s governor in 2013 did not gain much traction with a 2014 electorate in a foul mood and ready to blame it on President Obama and a gridlocked Congress.
The gender gap was not wide enough to save Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, Bruce Braley in Iowa or incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina. Astute and well-financed campaigns honed a Republican message that worked spectacularly. And women who did show up at the polls let it be known that they hardly walk in gender lockstep on issues of education, the economy and abortion and choice.
CHARLOTTE — Was it happy coincidence that Hillary Clinton’s granddaughter is called Charlotte? It certainly helped the former senator, former secretary of state, former first lady and perhaps future presidential candidate get the audience in the Charlotte Convention Center ballroom cheering with the line, “I can’t tell you how much we love the name.” Another grandmother, Kay Hagan, said, “What a name that was picked for her new grand-baby!” It was all to the point in a homey sort of way, framing the message of the day — family, women’s issues and equality and opportunity. During the wait before both took the stage, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” set a no-nonsense mood.
This has been the year of Sheryl Sandberg and “leaning in,” and, of course, the Journalism & Women Symposium would be in the middle of this timely debate. It’s part of our JAWS mission, after all. And it’s not as though we haven’t been posing similar questions for quite a while.
As I asked in a column in The Washington Post, “Is the manifesto about women not doing enough or trying to do too much? Will busy working women be able to spare the time to see its lessons as valuable rather than additions to already crowded to-do lists? If women feel guilty about shortchanging home or work, is that really Sandberg’s fault?”
At times, it has seemed as though it’s Sandberg’s world and the rest of us just get to react to it. Was it what we have done, have not done, should have done? But there’s a value in that exercise, too, even if it only gets women thinking about how we help ourselves and one anothe