SPALDING: What the 'woman's card' gets you in Indiana

May 7, 2016

I had no idea that I’ve been toting a “woman’s card”—the elusive, “I am woman, hear me roar” play that has opened so many doors for women. To think, I have Donald Trump to thank for reminding me that the “woman’s card” exists. Go figure.

The night before he began campaigning in Indiana, Trump told supporters that Democrat Hillary Clinton waves her “woman’s card” to win votes, and would get only 5 percent at the polls if she were a man.

Trump’s idea that a woman has privileges is laced with denial and the same belittling rhetoric so popular among his base. (This “card” he’s talking about must not be a debit card, since women nationally still earn 79 percent of a man’s salary for the same job.)

Since Trump (whose “fat pigs” to “dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” comments about women raised the ire of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly during a debate this year) brought up gender, let’s just see what this “woman’s card” gets you in Indiana.

If you are pregnant and are considering your options, the state wants you to use your “woman’s card” to ask male-elected officials what you can and cannot do with your own body. Thanks to Gov. Mike Pence and his recently signed abortion bill, women have even less say about our bodies.

Here, Pence is using the “woman’s card” to shame and blame pregnant women to the cheers of his male counterparts.

Young females are another “winning” category for the state’s support of the “woman’s card.” If you are a high school female preyed upon by a teacher or a college female attacked on campus, you do not gain much with your “woman’s card,” based on recent reports of cover-ups.

For female refugees seeking to start over in a safe, non-violent place, Indiana is not the place for you and your children. Pence and his buddies continue to deny entry based on their own prejudices against people who do not look or worship like them.

See, we do have several options to use the “woman’s card” in the Hoosier state.

I actually think men benefit more from the “woman’s card” than women. Men can point to it after doing something horrible to a woman. It’s her fault; she should have dressed differently, talked differently, spoken up in the first place or is now talking too much.

Politically speaking, elected officials use the “woman’s card” to cry foul and trash a woman’s accomplishments. But it isn’t limited to them.

A male executive once told a room full of female staffers (me included) that the staffers’ titles and pay were a result of longevity and perhaps a nod to their waving their “woman’s card.” That all of the years of experience added up to questions about their abilities. No room for talent or impressive resumes in that scenario.

I’m not the first person to note that GOP candidates can’t afford to perform poorly with women by a large margin if they hope to win the general election.

Perhaps the most impactful way for me to wave my own “woman’s card” is in November. And, I suspect others of our gender will do so as well. At least we’ve got something besides insults to look forward to.•


Spalding is executive director of the 51% Club, a project of the Indiana Democratic Party. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.


Recent Articles by Ronnetta Spalding / Special to IBJ

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