Tuesday, November 20, 2018

How many husbands control the votes of their wives? We'll never know


Rebecca Solnit
Nov. 19, 2018


There’s a form of voter intimidation that widespread and unacknowledged. It’s the husbands who bully and silence and control their wives, as witnessed by dozens of door-to-door canvassers across the country I heard from.

I started asking around and found that a lot of get-out-the-vote ground troops had witnessed various forms of such bullying, intimidation and silencing in relation to this election and in earlier elections, too.


Many canvassers told me those experiences were common. I did not find stories of the reverse phenomenon – wives dominating their husbands, or husbands pushing their wives to vote for the Democratic candidate. Of course I talked to people canvassing for Democrats, and domestic violence takes place across the political spectrum, but the bullying seemed to be mostly either to oblige the wife to lean to the right or to not participate at all.


No one knows to what extent this domination may prevent women from voting according to their own beliefs and agendas or participating at all.

Of course there are plenty of rightwing women who are enthusiastically voting for the conservative of their choice, but when you look at the enormous gender gaps between Democrats and Republicans or hear the myriad door-to-door stories, you recognize that there are many marriages between Democratic women and Republican men, and many Republican men who intend to control their wives’ political expression.

The problem matters for voting rights whether or not it influences outcomes, and it’s also a reminder that many women are not free and equal in their domestic lives.


This ordinary, ugly scenario raises another question, about whether voting by mail takes away the privacy of the voting booth and the ability for women to act on their beliefs without consequences.


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