The Problem With Contemporary Women

Today’s modern woman seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis. We want to rule the world, live life on our terms, and for some reason, we are willing to overlook the political detour the presidential candidates have taken on reproductive issues that affect us. While that’s complicated enough, now we seem to be more than a little peeved when we’re referred to as assets or given any other kind of compliment. It’s confusing as all get-out – and I’m a woman….and a Republican. Maybe it’s time for the fairer sex to take a step back, re-evaluate how we define “value” and take a deep breath. Maybe we’re getting too wrapped up in the details that we’re missing the big picture. Then again, that’s sort of what you expect when you combine politics with the human condition.

Many may recall the countless references in 2008 to Sarah Palin’s clothing style. The vice president hopeful was making the rounds, both determined and focused, even as the media went crazy with photos of her choices in shoes and her trim legs. While she voiced a small concern that the issues were getting lost in the focus on her physical appearance, for the most part, she graciously accepted any compliments that came her way and she embraced her femininity (even as she was shooting her guns, keeping up with her husband in fishing and proving she could carry her own in other traditional male roles).

Unfortunately, last week, another very successful and career-driven woman missed the compliment in her efforts to rebuke any reference to her being a “charming asset” to French presidential hopeful Francois Hollande.

Valerie Trierweiler works for Paris Match, a popular French magazine. She’s powerful, educated and worldly. Last week, the magazine’s cover included a lovely photo of her. All hell broke loose on Twitter as Trierweiler and the magazine’s editors slammed each other. She accused her employer of reducing her to a “trophy companion” and said she was angry that the magazine didn’t give her fair warning. The magazine agreed that it gave her no head’s up and said it had no obligation to tell the subjects of their covers they were about to hit newsstands – even if it’s their employees who are about to grace the cover.

The confusion comes in when one explores what Trierweiler values. She is quite successful in her career, has become a formidable partner for her Socialist presidential-hopeful and easily admits she likes doing laundry. Such a well-rounded woman should have a bit more tolerance towards such a glowing piece written and published by her employer. Instead, she takes offense to being called a “charming asset”. For the love of all that’s good and right, what is the problem?!

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the Republican hopefuls, for some bizarre reason, have chosen to make women’s health part of their campaigns. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for consistent efforts that can improve the lives of many, especially when it comes to their health. The problem is Santorum and Romney are all about ulterior motives. I absolutely agree that the costs of birth control methods should fall on those using them if their health insurance plans don’t cover it. But is this the way these ultra-conservatives want to move forward?

And what about all of those who are Republican and feel as though the current candidates are doing a huge disservice to the party? Why is such a limited topic even an election consideration? We’re not talking about the medical controversies that President Bush faced with stem cell research, nor are dealing with the massive restrictions President Reagan placed on various governmental programs such as AFDC. We’re talking about birth control. The dynamics have clashed in ways never before seen in our country. First, we had the push for Prop 26, or the “Personhood Amendment” that almost resulted in major problems for Mississippi. Then, in a very hokey manner, religion, healthcare and reproductive rights came together to redefine “a perfect storm”. They were targeted and ultimately, our candidates honed in on birth control. But why? It’s not even about preventing pregnancy anymore (if it ever even was), even though trying to discern what it IS about has proven difficult. Let’s face it, they’re falling woefully short in the eyes of many in their party. Do they really want to alienate the female Republicans? Because if they do, they’re well on their way. I’m not the only one who feels these two – Santorum and Romney – are patronizing, entitled and sorely misinformed.

Never before has being a woman been so complicated. What happened to grace, manners and compassion – those qualities that epitomize being a woman? Why is such a strong-willed woman ready to do battle with her employer for putting her in the spotlight and referring to her as a “charming asset” but who proudly says she enjoys doing laundry and other traditional female chores? Sometimes I think women get too wrapped up in the more aggressive role they feel they must adhere to and forget that being assertive works just fine, thank you very much.

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