Guest Post: Do I Have to Vote with My Vagina?

Residents of Los Angeles will be voting for a new Mayor in a runoff election next Tuesday between two Democrats: City Council member Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel. If Greuel is elected, she would be the first female to head the nation’s second-largest city. The race is currently neck-and-neck, and Greuel is enjoying a wide lead among women voters (with Garcetti’s demographics showing the same spike among men). MOMocrats have long supported Democratic women running for office — but should gender be the only factor in deciding where to place your vote?  And can a candidate win a race without going negative? Guest blogger Daphne Brogden weighs in.

Back in the ‘90’s when I was a budding young professional I got a call from EMILY’s List. Their pitch was they helped elect pro choice female candidates nationwide. Since as a child in the ‘70’s I participated in ERA rallies, had an account with the first Women’s Saving and Loan in West LA, wore my “Keep Abortion Legal” button in marches I participated in Junior High. I gave them money that day and continued to periodically give them money here and there over the last 15- 20 years.

But, I’m not going to any more.

When Hillary Clinton ran in ‘08 for President I was a lukewarm supporter until the media seemed to be positively howling with delight in her Iowa defeat. After her comeback in New Hampshire I was on board, even going to Texas to help work the caucus.

greuelad

Front side of Wendy Greuel campaign mailer, funded by EMILY’s List. View the ad in its entirety here.

Now in the Los Angeles Mayor’s race it has come down to two pro choice candidates. One was born with a penis. One was born with a vagina. The latter is getting support from EMILY’s List. Well, that is their mandate, so that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense to me is that they spent money, money that people like me gave them, to send out a mailer smearing the candidate with a penis.

All those years I gave money to EMILY’s List I assumed that my money went to NOT electing anti choice, anti woman conservative men. Some guy who pats the waitress on the behind, loves his guns and cuts funding to for day care.

Not sure why I assumed I was defeating this cartoon Archie Bunker. But, this mailer that EMILY’s List sent out against Eric Garcetti is such a comic. It depicts an attractive blonde women in a slinky dress getting out of a fancy car. “Not everyone in LA lives like this, but Eric Garcetti does,” it says.

Politically, this hate mail doesn’t jibe with the man I know at all. He is a pro choice feminist endorsed by NOW, who as a councilman put aftercare programs in all the schools in his district and unlike his female opponent says there should be no age barrier for getting Plan B. I know this doesn’t jibe with the guy I know personally. He has a Prius, never wears dresses and has brown hair with a little grey at the temples. The other night I was at his house while I and other volunteers phoned for his campaign. Eric came in tired after a day of campaigning. He went upstairs to put his little girl to bed. When he came back down he looked at the fridge for something to eat. I felt bad for him. He was pooped. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were going to be here or I would have brought you some food from Mark.” I said. My husband is chef Mark Peel who first met Eric when his sister worked at my husband’s then bakery. Not a job of privilege, by they way.

“Oh, that’s okay” he smiled, sense of entitlement not be found. Tired, he sat down to answer his emails. A family friend started chopping onions in the kitchen. “I’ll make him something.” she said. What, no servants? 7 cars? Loot he collected from city services? He asked his friends about things in their life. Wait, Emily’s List said he is “in it for himself?”

Besides being a mischaracterization of a friend, the mailer is divisive toward women. The attractive, slinky dressed lady is the “bad” one. The one who doesn’t take care of the citizens of LA. The other side is a picture of a slightly older lady holding a child. A mom or a nice looking baby sitter I assume. She is part of the verbiage of why Wendy Greuel is the better pick for mayor. Oh, that old saw. Sexual female is bad. Non sexual woman is good. That one takes care of the city.

I feel naive that I ever trusted EMILY’s List to do the right thing. Why couldn’t they have sent out a mailer with positive statements about the candidate with the vagina and not smear the candidate with the penis? Why should they waste their money on the LA Mayor’s race when women are systematically being denied access to reproductive freedom in Kansas and North Dakota? A candidate who isn’t pro-woman in LA would be run out of town on the speed train, whenever it’s built.

When I worked for Hillary was it partly because I wanted a women president? Absolutely. But, I also strongly believed she was the best, most qualified candidate. I went to Florida for Kerry in ‘04 as well. I work hard for people I believe in. I wasn’t going to hit the bricks for Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sarah Palin. Sometimes the candidate who was born with the penis is the best candidate. People speak of a Post Racial period, are we ready for a Post Sexual period? To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr, I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, or by their reproductive organs, but by the content of their character.

As a mother of a daughter and a son I have this dream.

Daphne Brogdon, creator of coolmom.com and co founded Momversation.com.  A TV host and comic,  she has two children and 3 step children.

 

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