With presidential candidates Obama and Romney alternating between courting and alienating women voters, that old, quintessentially male question, “What do women want?” rears its head again this October, with no less power than a coven of Wiccans.
I wrote a novel in which I took on the dubious task of sustaining a strong female protagonist, who shared the stage with males, proving better than most of them. Unlike her husband, she had to do it without a BFG (“big fraggin’ gun”) and a 400–horsepower car. In creating this character, I put a lot of thought into this puzzle, because, as a middle-aged man, I have no direct access to women’s inner minds—except what I’m told, and what I can observe. And I see and hear a lot about children. And it makes sense: What woman would choose a leader for her country whom she wouldn’t trust near her own family?
I’m sure no expert–so everything I’m about to say may seem presumptuous–but it seems to me that long-term security for their children would be foremost on many women’s shopping list for a powerful man, whether for romantic-involvement, or otherwise. They’d like a leader who can deliver an America in which those kids can still dare to dream, and moreover, have realistic opportunities to pursue those dreams: in short, they want sensible educational reform, affordable and equal access to higher education, market regulation, and more jobs in the future.
Now, don’t try that bunk about how we can have ALL that, AND everything else too. Most women learn, sooner or later and as a practical necessity, how to budget money. And one of the first things they learn is that it’s hard to have both a decent set of kitchen appliances, AND a Harley in the driveway, without going way into debt. Some, a few, are certainly comfortable with debt—-but again, you’re eating into that future, aren’t you?
Of course, they want border security and military strength, the same way a dog about the house and a deadbolt are deterrents to burglars. But if you look at how most adult women distribute their own spending—-regardless of social class—-I’m really not sure that the percentage-equivalent of buying a medieval moat, a solid iron drawbridge, not to mention a hundred catapults and a standing army to go out and make sure none of the other barons have their own catapults, is really how they would budget.
And speaking of job creation, how many mothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, and grandmothers of a five-year old—-either boy or girl—forsee a career in the military for the little ones?
How about a man who is tough enough to need fewer guns, secure enough to love his children openly, responsible enough to show it in deed and not just word, and reliable enough to keep on truckin’, year after year?