The GOP is Writing Off Young Women, and Will Suffer for It

October 13, 2018 by Mary Sanchez
Nithya Raman, executive director of Times Up Entertainment, joins dozens of people who protest against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in front of Los Angeles City Hall on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

One deftly worded tweet.

That’s all it took for a 19-year-old college student to school GOP pooh-bah Mike Huckabee about voter demographics.

Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, likes to let loose his stilted wit on Twitter, and the other day he chose to mock pop star Taylor Swift’s appeal to her bazillions of followers on Instagram to register and vote in the upcoming midterm elections.

Nothing to worry about there, Huckabee tweeted, “… it won’t impact the election unless we allow 13-year-old girls to vote.”

Rachel Gonzalez shot back this reply from her dorm room in St. Joseph, Mo.: “Don’t be so dismissive. When Taylor Swift got famous, I was ten years old. That was 2008. I’m 19 now, and I’m voting against every Republican on my ballot.”

Huckabee might think that the party’s latest #MeToo skirmish blew over with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. He’s wrong, terribly wrong.

It has energized lots of young activists like Gonzalez — who was plenty active to begin with. In 2016, at age 17, she was the youngest elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention, representing Missouri’s 5th congressional district. She was allowed to do so because her Oct. 16 birthday meant she’d be of voting age by Election Day.

Now, when she’s not studying, she’s urging people to register to vote and raising the profiles of lesser-known Democratic candidates in the red state of Missouri among her 26,000 Twitter followers.

It’s difficult to say what effect young women on social media will have on the upcoming midterm elections and on electoral politics in the years to come. Vote.org noted that 102,000 people under the age of 30 registered to vote within 48 hours after Swift’s urging.

But there’s a deeper thread people like Huckabee miss. He might prefer that the pop princess stay in a gilded cage, content with her celebrity status. But Swift has always shown herself to be more attuned to the mindset of women her age and, yes, far younger.

They don’t think like older women do, even those who are liberal socially. And they see straight through the denials and rationalizations and smarmy expressions of concern that attended Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation process. Women of all ages tended to view the case against Kavanaugh differently than men — after all, so many have “me too” experiences. But younger women’s viewpoints are especially vivid. They are repulsed by the immediate backlash that twisted reality, telling men that all this #MeToo stuff makes it a scary time for them, not for women.

Gonzalez inadvertently conducted a social experiment that proved the point following the Kavanaugh hearings. She tweeted:

“I am inside my dorm room alone. Thinking about how I’ve never gone to a college party because I am afraid. What if something happens? Will anyone believe me? Probably not. That’s what my senators told me today.”

Well-meaning replies poured in, counseling her on how to stay safe. Never leave your drink unattended. Stay in groups of friends. Avoid fraternities and athletes. Learn to box or take up judo. Trust your inner voice. Carry pepper spray and a pronged keychain. Respect yourself and your body. Do not party.

Gonzalez was astounded.

Mind you, her Twitter feed is filled with Democrats, self-described liberals, who are hyper-aware that blaming the victim is a huge part of why sexual assault is under-reported.

To Gonzalez, the feedback showed a society ingrained and accepting of sexual assault as a norm for college students. “Rape culture” is upheld even by those who abhor it.

She wanted to hear that men shouldn’t rape or sexually assault women. That the attackers and all who support them must change.

“It was not very encouraging at all,” she said.

Younger women are fed up with endless advice about how to stay safe from the men who would assault and harass them. They’re highly aware and unwilling to accept that far less emphasis is placed on getting men to stop the behavior and all the attitudes of male superiority that support it.

They may not be of voting age today, or not registered. They might even be listening to the bubblegum girl-power pop of Taylor Swift.

But eventually they will deliver the backlash earned by older generations and the politicians who enabled such dismissive attitudes about women’s safety.

It might not be this November. But it’s coming; demographics work this way. No use thinking otherwise.

Readers can reach Mary Sanchez at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @msanchezcolumn.

© 2018, MARY SANCHEZ DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Opinions

Checking China’s Diplomatic Piracy in the South China Sea
Foreign Affairs
Checking China’s Diplomatic Piracy in the South China Sea
September 18, 2020
by Craig Singleton

China appears keen to bring piracy back as an instrument of foreign policy, but the days of eye patches and wooden legs are long gone. Instead, Beijing’s most effective raiding parties prefer business suits and briefcases, thus allowing them to ransack and plunder under the guise... Read More

The VA Needs to Follow the FDA’s Guidance on Smoking Alternatives
Opinions
The VA Needs to Follow the FDA’s Guidance on Smoking Alternatives

According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s (IAVA) annual member survey 34% of veterans use tobacco products versus 13.7% of their civilian counterparts (2018 data). Smoking cigarettes is detrimental to a person’s health, and quitting is the best path forward. For veterans, who use tobacco... Read More

Gen Z and Millennials are Unequivocally Resurging #MeToo
Opinions
Gen Z and Millennials are Unequivocally Resurging #MeToo

The #MeToo movement that started in 2017 is still very much alive and thriving in 2020, and with good reason. A recent report from Buzzfeed News shockingly revealed 36 former employees of the Ellen Show encountered harassment and sexual assault from top staff. DeGeneres’ former executive... Read More

Why an Anti-Trust Safe Harbor Is the Answer the News Business Needs
Opinions
Why an Anti-Trust Safe Harbor Is the Answer the News Business Needs

News consumption is growing exponentially, but for the past decade, the revenue to news publishers has been on a decline. This is, in large part, because of the unbalanced relationship between news publishers and tech platforms. But that relationship could be changing thanks to the bipartisan introduction... Read More

Moving Forward Together in the Face of a Global Pandemic
Opinions
Moving Forward Together in the Face of a Global Pandemic

This global pandemic knows no borders and has no regard for politics. Like Americans who have come together to take steps to bend the curve, our elected officials have also come together swiftly and in a bipartisan manner to provide much-needed federal assistance to the millions... Read More

COVID-19 Is About to Make Our Affordable Housing Crisis Much Worse. Here’s One Way to Help Stem the Tide
Opinions
COVID-19 Is About to Make Our Affordable Housing Crisis Much Worse. Here’s One Way to Help Stem the Tide

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic created a global economic downturn, the U.S. faced a mounting affordable housing crisis. In March, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated that the U.S. needs at least 7 million more affordable units to sufficiently house extremely low-income Americans. With more than 30... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top