Some years ago I attended a seminar on the subject of the female psyche. It was interesting to learn about what motivates us women and, I confess, there was a whole bunch I didn’t understand until that day about the way in which I make choices and order my life. That seminar proves helpful to this very day and gives me great insight in my consideration of how women select Presidential candidates.
May I say, first of all, that I am a Christian woman. I believe God made man and women in his image and that he made men and women each with special qualities to fill divergent needs. He equipped us differently and gave us a different set of priorities in order that all bases of the human condition could be covered. I have no problem submitting to my husband and allowing him to be the Chairman of the Board where our little ‘family corporation’ is concerned. (Here is where I must say that my handsome husband is also a Christian who understands and takes very seriously his role as leader and protector. I don’t know how women who picked a loser can manage to submit, but that’s a different matter for a different day.)
In the basement of the female brain there is a place where instincts still live. It is there that our boundless love for our babies resides and from there that we make our most significant decisions. When we choose men to share our lives with – husbands, friends, bosses and even Presidents – we look for the same qualities that the women of antiquity found attractive. We look for strong men who can protect us and our helpless offspring from danger. We look for men who can slay attackers and quickly dispatch those who would undermine our sense of safety. We look for men who we feel we can trust.
Of course we also look for secondary traits. We like men who are also kind, considerate, gentle and – yes – handsome, but those qualities take a back-seat to the most important quality. He must be a bringer of safety and security.
As I watched the second presidential debate this week between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, I had a refresher course in what matters most to women. Both men are angular and athletic. Both men are handsome enough. Both men talk a good game. Interestingly, though, I saw some major differences in the men and – apparently, so did other women across the nation. I see that Romney is closing the gender gap in the polls. Women see Romney as trustworthy.
First it should be said that the incumbent has spoken to many women in the language they understand best. He has gathered in a healthy harem by promising food and shelter. (How basic is that?!) He and his administration have been passing out food stamps like candy at Halloween and he has relaxed the rules around the Welfare to Work program making shelter for the poorest women and their offspring a given. This works fine for those women who are so caught up in the daily life-or-death matters which besiege the very poor. You cannot blame these poor ladies for falling into the Obama trap. They are desperate for any help they can find. They are what I call, “under the circumstances.”
For the rest of us – those of us who are fearful, but not already trapped as our poverty-stricken sisters are, look a little deeper when we choose our leaders. We have the luxury of time to contemplate larger issues. For example, the fact that for every $7.00 the government gathers it spends $11.00, makes those of us who are looking for long-term security for our little families uneasy. That that money is borrowed from a country like China which would not hesitate to eliminate the freedoms we enjoy as Americans makes us even more fearful. When we consider the global issues and the economy, we see threats in every direction. We want a man who can face these issues head-on and protect us from the fallout of the mismanagement of the past.
Because we are not “under the circumstances” (yet,) we can take a little longer to select the leader we trust most. We can watch, as I did on Tuesday, the way in which the candidates approach the bigger picture. We can listen to their voices to see if there is compassion there. We can watch their expressions and evaluate the way in which they meet adversity. Do they tell lies? Do they evade the truth when it is uncomfortable? Do they demonstrate wisdom and fairness? Can we trust them with the future of our children?
Of the two candidates, Mitt Romney seems to speak most clearly to the most basic needs of women and that is becoming more evident every day. Women like me are glad there is a man who understands the role God gave to human men – the role as “chairman of the board.” Mitt Romney obviously understands a man’s place in relation to national leadership, but he also seems to “get” it from a spiritual perspective. That matters to me and I think it will matter to other women on November 6th. Of course, I also like the idea that he irons his own shirts.