9 Bizarre Claims People Have Made About Women Voters

In 1915, a neurologist said voting might drive women insane. We don’t appear to have come that far since then.

1. They’re ruled by hormones.

In an already-infamous story Wednesday (now removed from its website), CNN reported on research supposedly showing that women’s ovulation cycles influence their voting behavior. Specifically, when they’re most fertile, single women are more likely to vote for Obama and married women are more likely to vote for Romney. The reason: single women “feel sexier” when they’re ovulating, so they vote for abortion rights and gay marriage, while married women are “overcompensating for the increase of the hormones motivating them to have sex with other men.” The story has been widely pilloried. To be fair, though, CNN reporter Elizabeth Landau did include criticisms of the study in her writeup, like this rebuttal from political scientist Susan Carroll: “There is absolutely no reason to expect that women’s hormones affect how they vote.”

2. They’re risking their sanity.

In a 1915 editorial in the New York Times, neurologist Charles Dana wrote that “there are qualities in the nervous system of woman that call for protection and make at least certain forms of aggressive and responsible life dangerous.” “I am not saying that woman suffrage will make women crazy,” he assured his readers — however, “I do say that woman suffrage would throw into the electorate a mass of voters of delicate nervous stability” and “add to our voting and administrative forces the biological element of an unstable preciosity which might do injury to itself without promoting the community’s good.”

3. They vote their shopping history.

Eric Thayer / Reuters

Two polling firms, one leaning Democratic and the other Republican (bipartisan consensus!), believe that moms “who shop at Walmart at least once per month” are “truly swing voters.” At least as of May, Walmart shopping was allegedly associated with qualities like being “jaded by the political process” and thinking “Washington is out-of-touch.” However, another firm says independent female voters are actually more likely to shop at T.J. Maxx and Macy’s.

4. They’re searching for John Wayne (not Alan Alda).

Theo Wargo / Getty Images

ABC’s Matthew Dowd claimed that while women “express a desire that they want what has been traditionally called the ‘Alan Alda man,’” they really want a “John Wayne type.” Obama was apparently too Alan-Alda-y in the first debate, while Romney allegedly came off as more John Wayne. Dowd’s prescription for Obama was to toughen up, because “women want to be in a relationship with a man who is clear, strong, kind, knows where he is going, can stand up when confronted and can make a woman feel protected and safe.”

5. They’re just stupid.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

In 2007, Ann Coulter argued for repealing women’s suffrage, on the grounds that they vote “stupidly”:

If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.

6. They are in favor of evil and destruction.

This year, in a speech that currently has over 3,000 dislikes on YouTube, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson argued that “one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote” because “they’re voting in people who are evil who agrees with them who’re gonna take us down this pathway of destruction.” He also said, “there are some, a few out there that are logical women and can make sound decisions, but most cannot.

7. They’re blinded by “maternal instincts.”

Earlier this year, Limbaugh opined that “when women got the right to vote’s when it all went downhill. Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts.” He later claimed he had been joking.

8. They’re mean and diabolical.

Also this year, Mississippi Tea Party leader Janis Lane said “our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting” because “there is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how than can skewer a person. I do not see that in men.”

9. They mostly care about “the simple problems” of the home.

In a 1956 Collier’s article, Walter Davenport wrote that “women carry the simple problems of their individual homes with them as they enter the polling booths. Men, to the contrary, vote with their business affairs uppermost in mind.” He also quoted an unnamed male congressmen who said a female voter was more likely to hold a grudge: “she will work up a personal dislike for the candidate she is opposing. If he is elected, her distaste for him becomes intense. That he may turn out to be a better-than-average officeholder rarely softens her.”

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