Dear President Obama: You can only trot out the same show pony so many times before we start to wonder if you have ANYTHING else in your stable.

Look, I get that women in this country - at least, ones who like their rights - are pretty much up shit creek when it comes to voting options in major elections.  We either vote for the party that actively hates us, or the one that treats us like a reliable but disposable guaranteed vote, patronized in election years and used as a bargaining chip in between times.  So I understand that you're not going to try very hard to make us feel super welcome, because you just don't have to, and I'm sure you're right when you say it's much more important to focus on the coveted "independent" vote.  (Lol, no, I'm not.)

But if you're going to keep tossing out crumbs from time to time to make it look like you're paying attention, could please at least change out the bread in the crumbs bag every now and again?

Because yes, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was good and important and all that (although I've heard it was already basically in the bag before you took office, for all that you are perpetually taking credit for it).  But for fuck's sake, you have made it the centerpiece of EVERY. SINGLE. "WOMEN-FOCUSED". CAMPAIGN EFFORT. FOR. THE. PAST. THREE. YEARS.

And here it is again:
A screencap of President Obama's Facebook page, showing a status update that links to a video titled "President Obama on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act"; text accompanying it reads ""Policies that help women are policies that help our families - and our economy - grow stronger." President Obama reiterates a message from his State of the Union address: Equal work deserves equal pay."
When you push the same stale "victory" at us over and over again for three years, it sort of lends itself to the impression that you really don't have anything else to offer.  (As indeed you don't.)  You could have mentioned this past year's War on Women and how shameful the unrelenting onslaught of attacks on a Constitutionally-protected right are.  You could have talked about how your administration has been aggressively using the FACE Act to prosecute anti-abortion protesters who interfere in people's access to clinics.  You could have commented on your administration standing firm on the requirement that employers who provide health insurance include contraceptive coverage, even in the face of pressure from religious figures like the USCCB.  And yet you chose, yet a-fucking-gain, to parade the LLFPA as your token commitment to women.


It's not just that I'm sick of hearing about it, although I am.  I am genuinely wondering why you seem to think that fair pay is the ONLY women's issue worth mentioning, ever?

I am also more than a little annoyed at the defensive framing of the commentary on it - the emphasis on "it helps our families and especially the economy!" - as if simply doing the right thing to treat women fairly under the law isn't its own justification, isn't enough, but must be For The Families and For The Economy.  I also take issue with referring to it as "helping".  "Helping" implies optional, implies choosing to be nice to someone out of the goodness of your heart.  Fair pay laws are not "help", they're fucking justice.  They are an attempt to enforce a minimum standard of fairness and basic equality.  I realize that doesn't make as good a sound bite, but the paternalistic attitude of "We're helping women, because it helps their families, and because The Economy" is really starting to grate on my nerves.

I talked, not too long ago, about how token crumbs actually work to highlight the inadequacy of said crumbs, rather than being a true motivator of loyalty and positive regard.  At this point, trotting out the LLFPA show pony functions the same way.  It simply shows how little you are interested in either taking strong action to support this constituency, or even pointing out the other small ways in which you have actually done so, and by doing so, demonstrates just how little regard your administration/the Democratic establishment has for women.

We may have nowhere else to go, practically speaking.  But the more you distance yourselves from us on the assumption that having nowhere else to go means we'll stay with you, the more you risk losing us anyway.  We may not vote for your opponents - but many of us won't be particularly motivated to get off our collective ass and vote for you, either.

Patronize us at your own risk, Obama Administration.  You may find one of your most stalwart beams crumbling under you just when you need it most, if you keep this up.


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