Last week, host of Fox's The Five Kimberly Guilfoyle went on an ill-advised tangent during a conversation about age and party preference. She stated that young women lack the life experience to cast informed votes and implied that these women should avoid the polling stations and instead, go back to "being healthy and hot and running around the world without a care." When fellow host Bob Beckel reminded her that women have every right to vote, Guilfoyle acknowledged this while saying, "I just thank and excuse them so they can go back to Tinder and Match.com."
Superficially, this is a disgraceful attempt to discourage traditionally liberal voters from turning up for the November 4th midterms. While the commentators were having a conversation about female voters, it seems fairly pointed that Guilfoyle specifically stated her issue with young women voting and serving on juries and not young men. It is worth noting here that while young people as a whole are more likely to vote Democrat, Gallup reports that women are more likely to vote Democrat, regardless of age.
Attempting to discourage a population from voting because they are more likely to vote for a party that Guilfoyle does not support is shameful, and her reasoning is even more ridiculous. She argues that young women lack the life experience to understand the issues and make informed decisions. While she does not say at what age the experience switch shifts on, we can guess from her next quip that it must be around the time young women stop receiving messages on Tinder.
My gut reaction upon listening to these comments was to feel betrayed by Guilfoyle. It was as if, in discouraging young women from voting, she had betrayed some sisterhood of American women that should transcend party politics. A century after our female ancestors fought tirelessly for our right to vote, it seems like a heinous stab in the back that a fellow women would discourage the exercise of that hard-won right. And to go on to justify these comments by saying that a young woman's time is better served using dating sites rather than educating herself on the issues is just another dig at the collective self-consciousness of American women.
However, that sense of betrayal because Guilfoyle is a woman speaking against her sisters is a bit unfair from my end. Guilfoyle does not owe women anything just because she is a woman, and she has every right to use her position as a host on a national broadcast to say what she thinks. As a listener, I also have every right to be angry about this attitude towards young women.
Her comments bite because they attempt to deny the power of young people. In this country, young people turn out for elections at sadly low rates. According to the Campus Vote Project, only 24% of eligible 18-24 year olds voted in the 2010 midterms. In an attempt to raise these numbers, Rock the Vote put out this commercial, which highlights the issues that inspire young celebrities to vote. Guilfoyle isn't wrong to argue that young people have fewer life experiences (not that "young people with the Constitutional right to vote should not vote because they are young" is a strong argument by any means), but she is wrong to imply that young people do not have issues that they care about.
Politics has a profound effect on my own life. I am a 23 year old college graduate. I go to work every day, pay bills, and navigate an undeniably difficult transitory period of my life. I date, I drink at bars, and I binge watch shows on Netflix. I have worked for the government, in prisons, and in schools. I have been told as a competitive debater to wear a skirt at competitions because women should not wear pants in a courtroom, and lost points on an opening statement because my voice was "too feminine." When I walk alone, I try to ignore the catcalls, and hold my keys in my fist until I'm safely indoors. There are issues that I care about, and there have been times I have been made to feel less powerful because I am a woman and because I am young. Because I care about these issues, and because I have the right to vote for officials who will represent my issues at a local and national level, I will cast a vote on November 4th.
To my fellow young women: ignore the ignorant comments made by people like Guilfoyle and others who might try to deny you your right to vote. The decisions made by our elected officials affect you, regardless of how many years ago you were born, and you have every right to care about that. You can and should seek out information about the issues that you care about (check out the Campus Vote Project and Rock the Vote websites, and partisan-based sites established by the National College Republicans/ Democrats for more information). Most importantly, your vote counts the same as anyone else's, even if she tells you that you are less powerful.