Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman was quoted in an article in the Democrat and Chronicle about the role of women in the current election process. The article noted, “More women nationally are running for office than ever before, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, and women voters are aggressively being sought after as a voting bloc.”
Deutchman said that in most cases the coverage of female candidates focuses on issues such as rape, birth control, abortion and welfare. “It’s kind of insulting that the perception is that the only thing women care about is birth control and rape … conversely, men don’t care about those things,” she said. “It makes it sound like we’re in this little bubble all by ourselves.”
The article continued, “Deutchman said there has long been a gender divide in politics – women tend to be more Democratic, men more Republican. A recent Siena poll in Monroe County supports this – females were more likely to support Democratic candidates.”
“Democrats are seen by a lot of voters as more sympathetic, and more supportive of women’s issues and rights. One of the things that hasn’t been so much talked about is fair pay, that’s a big issue,” said Deutchman.
Deutchman holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics. She is a professor of 20 plus years who has worked on two continents (Australia and North America). She has a long list of publications in major journals, the latest of which are “Electoral Challenges of Moderate Factions: Main Streeters and Blue Dogs, 1994- 2008,” The Forum, Vol. 8: Iss2, Article 2 (2010) (with DeWayne Lucas); “Five Factions, Two Parties: Caucus Membership in the House of Representatives, 1994- 2002,” Congress and the Presidency, 36:62-84, 2009 (with colleague DeWayne Lucas); and “Fundamentalist Christians, Raunch Culture and Post-industrial Capitalism,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Summer 2008.
She has been a senior lecturer and visiting scholar at the University of Melbourne numerous times. Deutchman’s expertise in Australia has been cited in U.S.-based publications as well as in Australia in The Australian, The Age, Australian Time and Arena. Most recently, she taught a graduate course on “President Barack Obama and the World” at the University of Melbourne in Australia in 2010.
The full article follows.
Democrat and Chronicle
An important voting bloc, women are fed up with politics
Jessica Alaimo • Staff writer • October 29, 2012
By the numbers
More women nationally are running for office than ever before, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, and women voters are aggressively being sought after as a voting bloc.
Yet, at a recent event with about 1,200 women and a few men attending, including political leaders, nary a word was spoken about the current campaigns. Nobody brought up birth control, abortion or the definition of rape. Nobody suggested lobbying politicians to keep funding for social welfare programs off the chopping block.
Leaving the event, about 30 women approached by the Democrat and Chronicle all agreed: They just didn’t want to talk about politics.
Women have been a sought-after group in local political races. In one state Senate race, mailers are going out by both sides accusing the other of being “anti-women.” In a neighboring congressional race, the definition of rape issue is being broadcast across the airwaves.
Iva Deutchman, professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, said, “It’s kind of insulting that the perception is that the only thing women care about is birth control and rape … conversely, men don’t care about those things,” she said. “It makes it sound like we’re in this little bubble all by ourselves.”
Female candidates in New York’s top races agree.
“I think women have been unfairly and inaccurately portrayed in this election as a monolithic voting bloc,” said Wendy Long, the Republican running against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “Women are individuals. They have their own minds. They’re very independent. They think for themselves.”
Gillibrand thinks that women’s issues should be brought to the forefront. Congress is dominated by men, she said -just 90 of the 535 members of the U.S. Congress and the Senate are female. This follows in the New York state Legislature, where 47 of the 212 members are women, and in the Monroe County Legislature, where seven of the 29 members are women.
“If we had 51 percent of women in Congress, I can guarantee you we would not be debating birth control, we would not be debating the definition of rape, we’d be talking about jobs, the economy, national security, things that matter to us and our families,” Gillibrand said.
Deutchman said there has long been a gender divide in politics -women tend to be more Democratic, men more Republican. A recent Siena poll in Monroe County supports this -females were more likely to support Democratic candidates.
“Democrats are seen by a lot of voters as more sympathetic, and more supportive of women’s issues and rights. One of the things that hasn’t been so much talked about is fair pay, that’s a big issue.”
There was one notable exception to the lack of political talk at the October luncheon to benefit the YWCA. U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, and Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, R-Webster, have been beating each other up daily, both on the airwaves and through a variety of other campaign missives.
But here, Slaughter and Brooks walked to the podium together to make the event’s sole political point: Congress needs to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that is currently caught in partisan gridlock.
As a Democrat, Slaughter has been a member of both the majority and minority in her 26 years in Congress, but as a woman she’s always been outnumbered.
Slaughter was an original co-sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act, which provides funding to services that help domestic violence victims. The fact that its reauthorization is even up for debate right now gets her riled.
“This year we were shocked after the Senate passed the reauthorization bill … and the House has refused consistently and continually to even take up the bill and reauthorize it,” Slaughter said at a recent news conference.
Slaughter says the act is in limbo because the House GOP doesn’t want to expand it to the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community, Native Americans and illegal immigrants.
Brooks agrees with Slaughter on the act’s expansion, but is less apt to see women as a voting bloc.
“We tend to assign specific issues to women only,” Brooks said. “What I’ve seen in my rounds in talking to women in this community is the most important issue to them … (is) jobs, the economy, their future.”
Catherine Cerulli, director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester, said she’s surprised that domestic violence hasn’t been a bigger issue in the presidential campaign, given that the debates took place during domestic violence month.
“I think domestic violence has fallen off the radar screen … it’s still very much a public health crisis,” Cerulli said. “Given the number of people affected by domestic violence I’m surprised it hasn’t been more central to the political debate this season.”
Fed up with the process
Female candidates say women are reluctant to talk about politics for the same reason they are reluctant to run for office: The political system is too personal, too ugly, and too inefficient.
“Women approach government differently,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-Amherst, Erie County, whose re-election bid is being challenged by former Erie County Executive Chris Collins. “We are much more collaborative, less partisan and more likely to reach across the aisle … you just see a different approach to governing that is very different when you don’t have women at the table.”
Long agreed. “They just don’t want a lot of hot air, there’s a lot of wasted time and they want solutions, and I think they feel that politicians on both sides aren’t delivering solutions,” she said.
Gillibrand said more women are apt to get involved in the process if they have role models.
“Can you imagine what it would be like if we had 6 million more women voting in this election that didn’t vote last time, or 6 million more women holding these elected leaders accountable? It could be transformational,” Gillibrand said. “I’m hopeful that if we ask American women, we need you, your voice actually matters and could change outcomes, that they would respond.”