I live in Virginia where I’ve spent the entire evening moaning, groaning and wondering what on earth were people thinking? Of course if Cuccinelli has won, that moaning and groaning would probably be illegal, and I’d be in jail. But as Lawrence O’Donnell said, Virginia is once again for lovers. In my mind this election was too close for comfort. I find that I am continuously surprised by who people vote for, and why. In 2012 women comprised more that 50% of the population of Virginia, we should be able to coast a candidate to office pretty handily.
When according to Guttmacher.org, more than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have EVER had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method, why would any woman vote for a candidate who wanted to make contraception illegal? Cuccinelli wanted to make it more difficult to get a divorce if you have minor children, he attempted to get a personhood bill passed which if a woman had a miscarriage could potentially see her being subjected to police involvement simply by the law of unintended consequences, he tried to outlaw oral sex! I had an elderly woman tell me she was glad he failed; she was too old to be jailed. His list of misogynistic beliefs is long. Why any woman would vote for him is beyond me. if you are for any of the issues he espoused, why would you vote for someone who wants to take away choice for women? It’s not always about abortion as so many women assume. It is about the right of a woman to make her own choices in her life.
So why did some women vote for Cuccinelli? Are there more important issues on the horizon for them? Everyone is concerned about jobs, but every candidate had a plan for jobs and if they failed, they would most certainly hear about it. Gun ownership? You got me on that one, I haven’t a clue. Taxes? There is a sense in Virginia that taxes are too high, and they pay too much for entitlements for the poor.
I don’t think it’s any of those things. I think Virginia is a rural state with women still living under the rule of a rather patriarchal society. I decided this year to take a sign and join a local “protest” for marriage equality. I was speaking to a woman I asked to sign a petition to support this issue, and she said, “I’ll have to ask my husband.” I was shocked to say the least, but I respected her statement and let it go. There is a sense that men take care of their women folk here. If I actually said I’ll have to ask my husband, my husband would be the first to keel over from a heart attack, and I would then probably check myself in to a mental health facility.
I understand that not all of Virginia is like this, so please don’t get on me about that, but I’ve heard that sentiment more times than I can count. I can remember my mother having a bible study with some women and they actually had an argument with her because they said the bible told them they had to submit to their husbands, and my mother said she felt that’s not what it meant. This view is still circulating like it is still 1950.
Some women have been lucky to break the glass ceiling, some women are strong enough not to be strong armed, some women make the choice to be submissive, and some women don’t actually care. These are their choices, choices earned through hard work and proof of our value.
I know a great many men who believe in a woman’s right to set her own course and they provide this support with great enthusiasm; my husband is one of them thank goodness.
But in 2013, “I’ll have to ask my husband” are words that shouldn’t be spoken by a woman unless she needs to know if her husband will pick her and her girlfriends up after a night out.