Women: The Silent Majority?


Jessica Valenti in The Nation:

Women sent an unequivocal message to politicians on Tuesday. The gender gap was a whopping 18 percent; significantly higher than 2008’s twelve-point gap. Women made up a majority of the electorate, and unmarried women were 23 percent of voters.

There’s no doubt that an upswing in feminist activism had a demonstrable impact on the election. From the Komen/Planned Parenthood controversy to transvaginal ultrasounds to “binders of women”—the vociferous energy surrounding women’s issues is indisputable. But there’s an argument to be made that women’ssilence also contributed to Democrats’ resounding wins on Tuesday.

Despite the media and feminist focus on “war on women” this election season, women remain largely mum around their personal experiences with abortion and sexual violence. Feminists have long fought to end the stigmas surrounding rape and abortion—urging women to tell their stories. After all, more than one-third of American women will have an abortion in her lifetime. More than 600,000 adult women were raped in the United States in 2010. Still, most American women don’t talk about ending their pregnancies or being assaulted. Though this silence is not necessarily the best tactic for feminism or for women themselves, it may have been the final nail in the GOP’s coffin.