News & Politics

Women Ignored in VP Debate

In the end, women will swing this election. Might be a good moment to start speaking to them. And a cursory nod to women's rights isn't enough.
Astonishing. Women are more than half the population. Yet the vice-presidential debate, which featured a woman running for the VP, and moderated by a respected female journalist, barely even mentioned any of the issues that concern female voters.

Amazingly, it was Sarah Palin who uttered the words "women's rights" as part of her robotic explanation as to why the world doesn't like the United States. Sen. Joseph Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act, hardly took the time to stress the significance of what he had achieved.

And though Biden briefly mentioned the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in the U.S. in 1973, the moderator, PBS's Gwen Ifill, never asked these two candidates their views on women's rights to make their own reproductive choices.

Palin, as everyone knows, is against women's right to make those choices. Yet Ifill spared her public moment of having to tell the American people that she supports anti-abortion policies.

Of course Palin was spared much, much more. But for this very brief piece, I simply want to register my astonishment that no questions were asked about abortion, women's reproductive health care, equal pay for women, child care or family friendly policies.

Yes, there's an economic collapse. Yes, we're mired in two disastrous wars. But not every woman is a hockey mom. Most women, including mothers, however, are genuinely worried about the minimum wage, keeping their jobs, finding child care and many other issues that daily affect their lives.

Both parties know that in the end, it is women who will swing this election. Might be a good moment to start speaking to them.

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Ruth Rosen, professor emerita of history at U.C. Davis, is also a visiting professor of history at U.C. Berkeley.