Young women of America: Do not be low information voters!  Your future and the future of your children depends on your knowing the position of who is elected president and who is elected to Congress.  Romney and Ryan do not want you to understand their positions on women’s issues.  They support taking away insurance coverage for birth control.  Their very conservative Supreme Court would take away the right of women to make decisions about child bearing.  Further, neither Romney nor Ryan supported legislation allowing a woman to seek legal recourse for not receiving equal pay for equal work.  Young women may not understand the impact on their lives of voting for men who support taking their life-choices from them and putting their choices into the hands of government, but they need to.  Romney and Ryan’s big lies and big smiles belie their big plans to remove a woman’s choice in family planning matters.  Romney / Ryan do not believe in government intervention in providing a safety net for disabled workers, for providing retirement help, for creating a workable accessible medical coverage, but they support government intervention in the most private issue in a woman’s life — whether to bear a child or not.  If that is not big government intrusion in women’s lives, what is?


So far, I’ve been lucky.  Some friends and family have not been.  Some Americans less fortunate than me support a presidential candidate (Mitt Romney) and vice presidential candidate (Paul Ryan) who have repeatedly proclaimed their determination to seriously modify Social Security, their only safety net outside of unemployment, a safety net that has helped to protect American workers and their families since its creation in the midst of the great depression.  Social Security does not just provide retirement benefits for the elderly; it provides protections for younger workers and their families.


Younger workers, especially women, should be concerned about Romney’s changing Social Security for people under 50.  Social Security, in effect, is disability insurance for younger workers, because it provides benefits should they become disabled prior to retirement.  Social security provides financial assistance to children of workers should they die leaving young children without a parent.  When I was growing up, the father of the kids next door died.  Social Security provided income and educational benefits for them.  That federal, government program, Social Security, made it possible for the kids to stay in their home and to eventually obtain a college degree. 


Life is a game of chance.  We may not be here tomorrow and if we die young with children, we need to do more than hope that somehow our children will be provided for.  We need to vote for a presidential candidate that will preserve the one program that has and will provide for our children.  Other ‘modern countries’ have a much larger safety net for adults and children.  I would argue that our Social Security, our Federal program, is a minimum safety-net program and should not be reduced.  Again, it is not a program just for the elderly, but it is for all those still working.  What other program in the United States provides benefits if one becomes disabled and can’t work?  What other program provides children financial help when a parent dies young?   Social Security is the safety net that helps keep “unlucky” individuals and their families from unforeseen negative life events.  Who can guarantee that s/he will not become disabled at a young age, or die leaving young children behind?  We are paying into Social Security not just for our old age, but also for disability insurance for us and to protection our children in the event of our dimise.  It is not about the distance future, but, if we become “unlucky, it is about our ultimate survival!


This election is about tomorrow, about the tomorrow of all American workers.  How can American workers support a man who, through his company, Bain Capital, has sent hundreds of thousands of well-paying U.S. jobs to China?  How can they support a man who does not support equal pay for equal work for women?  I have experienced pay discrimination based on gender from the first day I worked.  Statistics still show that men, simply because they are men, make more for the same work than women. 


President Obama supported the Lily Ledbetter Bill, which allows women to sue about pay discrimination no matter when they discover that they are receiving less pay than a man for doing the same work.  If women are to provide for themselves and for their families, they need to receive compensation for the work done, not be undercompensated because of their gender.  





A male architectural professor at Georgia Institute of Technology announced to my class, “All great art was created by men, therefore only men should be architects!”   Another professor came to my desk and said to me, “You are a woman.  You are illogical and because of that you will fail calculus and your engineering courses.”   “No,” I responded. “I took engineering calculus with several hundred mostly male students and I got the highest and 2nd highest grade in my classes.”


More than half in my calculus classes flunked.  Of those that survived, most got D’s.  There were a few C’s and a couple of B’s.  In one class I was the only A and in another I was one of 2 A’s.  The male who got the other A had flunked the class once.


 “Well, you’ll fail your engineering courses,” he said.  No matter of my past performance, ‘female’ meant inferior and in his mind, that predestined me to fail.  After that exchange, I found myself panicking before engineering tests, fearing the professor’s predictions.  At a college event, that same professor came up to me, pointed to 2 women and said, “If I get them in a class I’ll fail them (and he did) and if Joanie comes back here, I’ll fail her too.”  When I graduated for Georgia Tech, an attorney sister of one of the failed women called me and said, “How did you do it?  You are the only woman who was not a pet of the administration to get through that architectural college!”  I did it in spite of the fact that professors lowered my posted grades.  My having the highest grade (in some cases by 10 points higher than the next student) made no difference.  My grades were lowered and men with significantly lower class averages got my A’s.   It was almost as if getting the highest grade in class made some professors reduce my final grade.  They graded me throughout the course, then, in the end, would not abide by their own numbers and formulas.  I succeeded in a male area and they refused not just to acknowledge my success, but did what they could to reduce my success.


In 9th grade I was a very shy, easily intimidated student.  My algebra teacher, a retired Marine drill sergeant, daily sent us to the chalkboard to solve problems in front of the entire class.  He yelled constantly, especially at me, yelling even while I was writing formulas on the board, before I raised the chalk to solve a problem.  He repeatedly made demeaning comments about me and my classmates from the county.  We had not been educated by the city and were stupid.  At the end of the year, all the city’s students took an algebra / math test to reflect our standing nationally.  The test was administered on my birthday.  Feeling special, I was calm and worked the test with machinelike precision.  I solved virtually every question and guessed at nothing.  I thought the test easy.  He announced the results in class.  I, a country girl, was the highest scoring student in the city.  My score was above the 98th percentile of students in the US, yet no congratulations from the teacher, only anger at me that his future University of Michigan male engineering students did not get the high score and I had.  He announced to the class that my score had been achieved by guessing.  If he’d understood statistics, he would have understood that was impossible, that guessing would have resulted only in my getting one question out of four correct.  He would not, he could not acknowledge a girl, an 85-pound sprite with a gymnast body could also do math. 


* Workplace

I grew up in a “dick-centric” world.  My first job as a salesclerk in a department store paid me 65 cents an hour.  I was consistently the highest grossing part-time sales person in the store.  The boys I worked with teased me because they got $1 per hour even though they did not come near my sales figures.  I asked, “Why do you get paid more?”  They responded, “We’re men and men get more because we are men.”  “Why should genitalia determine compensation?”   They each said, “Men, simply because we are men, deserve more!”  I did not understand their logic.  I far out-stripped them in performance, in the money I made for the company, but, because of my gender, my pay was less???  I did not understand their answer to my “WHY?”  Eventually the boys came up with the rationale that “men should get more because they supported families.”   “Well,” I responded, “if compensation is based on support of a family, then anyone who supports a family should receive a per-hour family stipend.  That means that those of us without children should receive the same pay, less pay, for the same work, than workers with children.”  “No,” they insisted, “men should get more with or without children than women!”  I did not understand then why the boys I worked with believed that because I was female I deserved less and because they were male they deserved more.  I still don’t understand it, but their belief in male superiority was core-deep.  They simply believed men were superior to women and that the job-place earnings justly reflect their elevated position.  Results, quantity and quality of work were not important, gender was!


I worked as an architect.  I worked for two of the country’s largest architectural firms.  I was (am) one of the most technically knowledgeable architects in the business.  I’ve worked on virtually every aspect of architecture from design, to development of construction documents to overseeing the construction of large and small projects.  I have personally prevented millions of dollars in lawsuits by discovering design oversights (architect’s mistakes) in drawings before they were built.  Yet, because I was (and still am) female, male architects were brought in at higher wages.  At one job, when I discovered the pay discrepancy between the male architects and me, I said to one of the men paid more than me, “It’s not fair that you guys get more money when we are all doing the same work, when we all have the same experience (actually I more experience and in more areas of the profession), and when my credentials are equal to any of yours (actually my credentials exceeded theirs).”  The response from this young male architect here in northern California in the 1990’s was, “We are men.  We deserve more and if you are unhappy with the situation then leave.”  Again, he, at a gut level, believed that men deserved more than women for the same work.  He could not see beyond his dick.


I often think how different my confidence in life would have been if I had not been subjected to public insults and the refusal of teachers and bosses to recognize and credit my performance.  If I had been a male and done the same work, I believe my work would have been acknowledged.  Early in my architectural career, an older female architect told me there was a disconnect between my physical appearance and my work.  People, she said, expected, because I was small, pretty and sweet that I did not have a mind.  I worked for a man at one of the largest, most prestigious architectural firms in the country.  At a departmental event, my boss turned to me saying, “You look like the kind of person who sits at home watching television all day.”  I repeatedly found serious design mistakes his male-centric studio had made in his big hospital project.  I pointed out the errors:  beams running through elevator shafts; columns intruding too far into elevator shafts; columns protruding through exterior walls; plumbing without pipes; improper radii on the building’s façade, and more.  If he did acknowledge the errors existed, he’d give credit for my discoveries to the men in his group.  One day during a barrage of insults, I noted some of the “design oversights” I had found on paper, oversights that would have caused serious problems during construction.  His dismissive response, “Things magically disappear in construction.”  In effect, my contributions meant nothing.  Well, I received a call from his boss during construction of the hospital.  The head boss of the studio asked if I had told my boss, his subordinate, that my calculations showed all curvatures on the façade incorrect.  “Yes,” I had told my boss that.  He had remembered overhearing the conversation.  I don’t know if he overheard the end of that conversation and my boss’s response to my discovery of the curvature problem.  “You are wrong.  Computers don’t make mistakes!”  No, he was wrong.  A computer mistake did cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to correct.  I was dickless in a dick-centric office so my insights were of no value, but if they had been acknowledged, it would have saved big money and the reputation of an architectural firm. 



My childhood preacher Sunday after Sunday stood in the pulpit and declared that women were to be subjected to the husband as men are subjected to Christ.   Christ was the head of the church and the husband was the head of the family.  He practiced what he preached.  Mother said that on a warm day she rode with the preacher and his wife.  The wife turned on the air conditioner to cool herself.  The preacher turned off the air conditioner announcing that she needed to get his approval prior to turning on the air conditioner.  — Such a small thing, yet even that small decision was not hers to make.  He was to determine all.  “A bully,” Mother said.  A bully he was and religion gave him the right to enforce his bulling.  


One male college colleague used to say, “If we marry, I’ll make the decisions.  We’ll not have arguments because all important decisions will be mine.”    “Why,” I asked, “would your logic or approach to a decision be better than mine?”  He responded, “Because God says so.”  He told my sister Esther that he was interested in me romantically, but that I seemed not to ascertain his interest.  I did ascertain that, but he did not understand that I had no intentions of spending my life being bossed around by someone who thought himself superior, for any reason, let alone for the possession of penis.  As a biologist I understood that neither male or female sex organs were superior to the other.   Evolution determined compatibility and form was determined by function.  Well, they put their faith in a god who declared men superior and rejected science that produced a co-evolved male and female.


I dated a very religious man who often brought his friend with him to my house.  The friend was interested in my younger sisters.  One afternoon in my parent’s living room, the friend announced, “Men are superior to women.”  It was biblical.  I responded with a non-swearing equivalent of ‘bullshit!’  That did not deter him.  He went on, “Men are superior.  All great chef’s — MEN.  All great writers — MEN.  All great athletes — MEN.   All great scientists — MEN.  Only men should be preachers.  Male greatness flows from God down to earthly men, all greatness in embodied in MEN, only men.  Womankind was created from man and is responsible for the downfall of man.”  What?  The superior man could not withstand the temptation of the inferior woman?  Would not that make her superior?



The men I worked with, the professor who taught me, the guys I dated thought themselves better than me simply because of their gender.  Perhaps, if I were a male, I’d understand, but as a female I don’t get it.  I don’t get it and I, a one-time Republican, can’t support, will not support, any political candidate who will not support equal pay for equal work in the workplace, who will not let women determine the destiny of their own bodies.


Equal pay for equal work is a woman’s issue.  Equal pay for equal work is a family issue.  Young women should understand that.  It may not bother young women now that guys are getting paid more than gals for the same work, or that their career success will be less simply because they have virginas, but when the beauty fades, when the wrinkles set in, when gravity takes a toll, the mature woman is less accepting of gender inequality.  Women need to understand the cost of voting for Romney.  It will cost them.  It will cost their children.  A Romney presidency reduces not just their potential income level, but also their security and their choices.  Romney will support laws that interfere with women’s achieving equality in the work place.  Romney will support big government’s intrusion into bedrooms, into our personal decisions.  Personal family decisions will no longer be ours, but the state’s.  If a woman is to keep the future open for herself and her children, she must support President Obama in this election.  Not to do so is to jeopardize herself and the future of her family.  In the past several decades our country has become more gender equitable.  I believe a gender-equitable world utilizes human talent resulting in a better world for men and women alike.  Unfortunately, this will never be a dickless world.  I must admit that some of the biggest dicks I have ever worked for or with have been women, but in a less dick-centric world, women are more likely to be able to contribute to their community and their world and judged on their performance and not on their genitalia.  I fear for our country’s future, but my fears are magnified if Republicans win in this election and move the nation toward a more dick-centric world, a world where there are more leaders who like Senator Mourdock who would deny a woman the right of choice  Mourdock is against abortion even in the case of rape, “…life is a gift from God.  And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”  So his beliefs, in his dick-centric world, will determine what a woman will legally be able to do in case of a rape-induced pregnancy.  If we have a Romney presidency and a Romney Supreme Court the choice will not be ours.  Choice matters.  Votes matter.  Women have cunts.  Women have brains.  We should use our brains and vote Democratic.  Doing so will help protect all of us, all parts of our body, all aspects of our lives.  We, both men and women are more than our gender.  Let’s vote for those who will allow that.