“Hey mom, I’ll be voting in the next presidential election!”
I had to stop and think about that for a second. Besides my initial reaction of “oh my god, you will be an adult in four short years,” this was an exciting moment. Look around you, if you have any 14-year-olds in your life, imagine them voting in 2016. What do you want them to know about the political process? I want my teenagers to engage politicians and tell them what they think. This is part of their political capital.
I asked my daughters if they knew who their representatives were. They knew Senators Murray and Cantwell but not Representative Jim McDermott. That’s more than I knew when I was 14—I wasn’t even thinking about voting. Young voters are a powerful bloc, but only if we encourage them to vote.
I can think of a couple of practical ways to do this. Take them to one of the many lobby days in Olympia. Walking around the capitol and talking directly to politicians demystifies the political process. Encourage the 14-year-olds you know to send an email asking their representative about an issue that’s important to them. And, just plain old conversation: talking around the dinner table, in the car, or on the bus. In our family, we just talked about healthcare issues that are important for women, marriage equality, legalizing marijuana, charter schools, and the presidential candidates. These conversations are lively and I always learn something new about how my kids look at the world.
I do not think of myself as a competitive person. I mean, I don’t play games where I might win or lose. Board games and sports are not my thing.
Yet, I’m obsessed with polls, the world-series, and Binders Full of Women.
This year, for the first time, I find myself watching the presidential debates simulcast with social media. I wonder what my imaginary friends are thinking as we watch from our separate couches. I have two screens going.
Thus, the eruption of sites sporting Binders Full of Women DURING the debate—and the growth of one Facebook site from 32K likes in the middle of the debate to 348K at the time of this writing—leaves me scratching my head.
Clearly, the comments of (mostly) women on these sites express humor—I presume fueled by outrage. I experience the thrill, as a feminist, as I read these comments and get full belly laughs from the creativity and wonderful writing. The reviews of 3-ring binders on Amazon are even funnier than the reviews of Bic for Her.
But! Is all this outpouring of creativity only serving to quell the outrage? Do women and men close up their computers and go out for a beer—slapping their hands together slap-slap “There! I told them.”?
Because if that is true, then putting all this creativity into humor alone is only as politically effective as say, putting butter on the third degree burns of women’s lived experiences.
We cannot simply feel all self-satisfied making snarky comments on social media about the things candidates say about women and thinking we are done. This does not get us women candidates and women in office. Does not get us allies pulling for our liberation. Does not get us reproductive justice. And my personal favorite (this being breast cancer awareness month) does not get us an environment where a whole bunch of us aren’t walking around traumatized by cancer. It does not.
BUT (and this is the last one) I am not calling for the end of snark. By all means, snark away. And then close up your computer and get out there!! Vote and mail your ballot, study the economy so you can tell the truth from a lie, volunteer for a women’s program. Do.