Want to know how not to get Bush-whacked when it comes to policy that will affect your life? Mercifully, there’s a guide written by the effervescent Karenna Gore Schiff and published in the August issue of Glamour magazine. If you’re worried about your rights, thankfully “Al Gore’s ‘first daughter’ tells you how to make George W.’s term a lot less scary.” Because let’s face it. Women have nothing better to do with their time than stress about this stagnating patriarchal society we begrudgingly wake up to each morning.
There she sits, an attractive, patriotic picture of Glamour‘s “Woman of the Year” for 2000 with an opening that reads, “Even if you voted for George W. Bush, you may feel uncertain about how his agenda will actually hit home.”
It’s quite an uninspiring article to get off one’s duff and “make a real difference.”
The reoccurring theme throughout her piece is the assumption that women are a timorous group in need of assistance from the highest powers in the land. Government is the panacea for all the problems plaguing females.
It’s the feminization of politics and Karenna is the pretty poster child for this campaign. Reading this article is like looking into a crystal ball and what magically appears from the smoke is Kim Gandy (NOW’s new president-elect) and company. The year: 2004. What are they picketing? “Your planet, your health, wealth and safety!” Oh, and don’t forget “Your right to choose!” After all, according to the leading feminists in this country, that’s all women care about.
Issue number one that tops Karenna’s list, the environment. Women’s automatic support for the environment, just because they are women, is wildly inflated. Case in point, my oldest sister. She is the archetype of the much sought after soccer mom. She drives her gas-guzzling Yukon SUV (her husband has the same car, different color) all over northern Virginia picking up three children under the age of six and taking them to ballet and dropping them off at tennis lessons; trekking to PTA meetings and library reading sessions. She and her husband have no plans to purchase an “environmentally friendly” car.
She makes about three trips a month to Costco, a wholesale retailer, to buy her family products in bulk. That equates into many plastics, bottles and cans being purged each week. But she never recycles and doesn’t feel like starting. She likes the conveniences in her life and doesn’t need one more responsibility; like sorting green glass from brown glass prior to recycling day.
Many other soccer moms in my sister’s Beaver Cleaver neighborhood are not diligent about recycling. Does this make them bad people? Well, in my sister’s case, she voted for George W. Bush and under Karenna’s definition of women, my sister must be considered a lost soul.
There is a problem with feminists like Karenna. That is, they fail to take into account that women are not one monolithic voting block; sharing the same interests, concerns or opinions. Her suggestions on websites to visit in order to stay informed, of course make the leaping assumption that women are born liberal and die liberal. Here’s a taste of what she offers: Handgun Control, Children’s Defense Fund, National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood and Feminist Majority Foundation.
Nowhere in her article does she convincingly allot for the fact that some women might support gun rights, or the president’s decision to reinstate Ronald Reagan’s “Mexico City policy,” or that they might be interested in having their government drill for oil in the Artic National Wildlife because they want cheaper heating bills.
What’s more, following lock step with the radical feminists mantra, Karenna fails to take into consideration a potential remedy to the lingering problems she unquestioningly lists. “Working moms need more help — better schools, health care and child care for their kids.” She continues, “We are the ones most likely to face the often vexing challenge of finding a balance between work and family….For too many women, it means a heartbreaking choice between leaving their children at an inadequate day-care center or giving up the job that brings in the money to feed and clothe them. Compassion is a nice word, but talk is cheap.”
Noticeably absent in Karenna’s world is the husband, the family, faith-based organizations, anything besides the government as “solution.” Her diatribe does nothing but evoke the image of a “single-mom America.”
What’s equally intriguing is there’s no mention of her father’s hard-fought campaign to assume the presidency, specifically the policies he ran on. In her article, politicians become this abstract third party; people to be wary of. “After all,” she writes, “while we struggle to maintain some semblance of control over our daily lives, politicians in Washington make decisions that affect our paychecks, our doctor visits, even our drinking water.” A striking comment coming from someone whose father was our Vice President for the past eight years and had every opportunity to make positive changes.
To be fair, “lest you think [she’s] a total sourpuss,” Karenna does throw a bone to the Bush Administration for crafting an “admirable and substantial budget proposal to increase funding for women’s health research.” But that’s about as far as she’ll go. “It’s a tribute to the increase political clout of American women that this anti-choice administration has slyly taken a chisel, rather than a sledgehammer, to our hard-won reproductive rights.” The Administration’s pledge to honor a “culture of life” is a hoax in her eyes. Those are just sweet, PR words that mask a deeper agenda to support “a number of benignly named bills aimed at making abortion illegal or very difficult to obtain.”
Interestingly enough, a recent ABC News/Beliefnet poll shows support for legal abortion in America “slipping to its lowest level since the survey began in 1995.” The poll, surveying 1,022 adults nationwide, shows 52 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal. That’s a dip from 59 percent in January. It might be asking too much for Karenna to account for these feelings. She certainly proved to the country that she has a political tin ear when she offered harmful advice to her father’s campaign. For example, bringing the well-known feminist writer, Naomi Wolf, into her father’s inner circle provided nothing but great fodder for Leno and Letterman. Daddy’s poll numbers didn’t skyrocket thanks to Wolf’s “alpha male” advice.
It all begs the question, what qualifications does Karenna have to dispense political advice to Glamour readers in America? It’s a decidedly feminist message delivered at a time when only 25 percent of American women consider themselves to be feminists, according to a June Gallup poll, down from a third in 1992. And it’s an emphatically negative article even though a majority of women say they are “somewhat satisfied with several specific aspects of their lives,” according to Gallup. The same poll states only 34 percent of women look disapprovingly on the job President Bush is doing compared to 31 percent of men.
The leaders of this campaign, to feminize politics, may have found a poster child in Karenna, but they’d be better served if they searched for a meaningful message.