How to Appeal to Women 101

No, this isn’t dating advice. (Although if the title piqued your interest, at least maybe you’ll read the article; much along the same lines as my advice to a friend writing a dissertation she hoped she’d eventually publish as a book, to whom I suggested the title “Heroic Themes In 18th Century French Literature, or Thinner Thighs In Thirty Days.” But I digress… )

The Republican Party is trying to reach out to women in order to overcome a growing gender gap. Which is admirable — some of my best friends are Republicans, and they are saddened by their party’s recent tilt to the far right. There are plenty of women who want fiscally conservative candidates but also don’t want the government interfering in reproductive rights, who want small government but also want strong public education and a compassionate safety net, who believe same-sex marriage is not just morally right but pro-business (more weddings!). So they were looking forward to the so-called “rebranding” efforts the GOP leaders have been trumpeting lately.

But apparently that rebranding was simply advising candidates to temper their tone, not to change any policies, where politicians were advised to show women their “sensitivity.” You know, like the experiment my kids devised to see whether our dog responded more to tone of voice or actual words — you could say anything insulting or confusing in a sweet voice and the dog just wagged her tail happily. Not that I am claiming the GOP is treating us like dogs (well, actually I sort of am… which reminds me of that climactic argument scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Harry compares their differing views of the length of time since their ill-fated tryst to dog years, infuriating Sally,who yells, “So which one of us is the dog?”). Republican leaders do seem to think that it’s enough to pat us on the heads and speak soothingly, and we won’t notice that they are continuing to promote the kinds of policies and views that have driven women voters away in droves.

And there seems to be a new plague of “Akin-itis,” ridiculous comments by male politicians about women and sex. (Remember “the female body has ways to shut that thing down”?) The latest offenders aren’t even political outliers like Todd Akin — the chair of the House Judiciary Committee has claimed that a bill banning funding for abortion is a “jobs creation bill” because of all the goods & services that will be required for the future unborn children. (None of which the GOP plans to help pay for; to paraphrase Barney Frank, sometimes it feels like the current House believes the value of life begins at conception and ends at birth.) And there’s a state senator in Virginia who was quoted saying there really wasn’t any such thing as marital rape, since “she’s in a nightie.” (What about those of us who sleep in T-shirts or PJs — does that exempt us?)

So in the interest of bipartisan cooperation, here’s a little musical advice for the current House leadership in how to appeal to women voters:

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