I TRIED to Tell You: Why OPRAH Matters

Back in October of last year I posted a piece here on HuffPo after I had watched a then, undeclared, Senator Obama sit with Oprah.

“Oprah is talking to Obama about the possibility of him running for President in 2008. And I’m ignoring the cries of ‘WHERE IS SPONGEBOB!’ to hear the answer.

A daytime talk show host is pushing politics on her show…and this mother is not only listening intently, but sitting on the edge of her seat to hear the banter.

Welcome to the new spin on campaigning, and the new breed of Mom voter. Get used to politicians and their wives on Oprah being watched by educated homemakers with tattoos and outspoken opinions. Get used to this making many people uncomfortable.”

Now we see Ms. Winfrey and the candidate stumping and it’s working.

Go ahead and shake your head that some talk show host is making a difference in the ’08 election. Go ahead and roll your eyes that these mothers and women care.

Fellow BlogHer Morra Aarons-Mele writes, “If you follow politics, you’ve no doubt heard that unmarried women represent a holy grail of voters: 50 million or so likely Democrats that year after year, flirt with voting and political activism, but don’t commit. This cycle, they’re dubbed the ‘Sex and the City voters.’ To woo these women, the establishment provides celebrities, and catchy spots laced with sexual innuendo–ooh, winking about their first time! Voting, that is.

My friend and Democratic pollster Margie Omero sent me the post about the Single Anxious Female frame. She noted to me, ‘Women, across marital status groups, vote at a higher rate than do men. But the coverage stemming from concern about ‘Single Anxious Women’ (even called the ‘Sex in the City Voter’) not only doesn’t reflect the data, it trivializes women.’ Even in 2007, women are pitched civics lessons as if we can only relate to global affairs if the issues are dressed in sexy shoes, just folks style dishing, or are at lunch with Samantha, Carrie and the girls.”

I suppose there is an argument to be make about gimmicks and celebrities being busted out for votes. I also think there is an argument to be made that Oprah is trusted and speaks to most women.

Marty Kaplan writes, “…Oprah may actually be the twenty-first century’s de facto national anchor. She really does channel — and change — Middle America.”

A national anchor that has the ear of just about every American woman I know.

Go ahead and laugh if you want, or be disgusted by “some celebrity” making a difference. Maybe you don’t care for her charity work or maybe you don’t like that she is wealthy and powerful. Maybe you don’t like that she does it with women top of mind. Whatever the reason, I suggest you take notice. As I mentioned in October,

“According to Women’s Voices. Women Vote. 20 million women did not vote in the last election. That’s 20 million women.

I’m guessing Oprah can reach a few of those 20 million women. I’m guessing Mommybloggers can reach a few of those 20 million women. I’m guessing the honesty and hopefulness of a young Senator can reach a few of those 20 million women.

I’m guessing YOU had better redefine that tiny box of yours to include 20 million different kinds of woman. We’re not clear cut. We’re not all Donna Reed. We’re not all what you think a woman should be. What a mother should be. What a sister should be. What a daughter, aunt, girlfriend, or Oprah watcher should be.

But we sure as hell can vote.”

I caution you to realize this does not only apply to Obama. As BlogHer’s Catherine Morgan points out, there are over 300 women discussing politics in blogs. Even my much-ridiculed Mommyblogger circle is educated and in on the act.

I’m tired of the snickering from those who find this less-than-serious politics. I’m tired of the feeling women voters are “cute” and entranced by Oprah or Hillary’s new hair-do.

I suggest the main stream media and other writers, political campaigns, and candidates themselves learn a lesson from the Oprah effect. As I’ve heard BlogHer Co-founder Lisa Stone say many times about many different things, “ignore us at your own peril.”

*cross posted at the Huffington Post, Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog and BlogHer.com


  1. Okay, I’m having a hard time getting by the approach of “first time” winks and sexual innuendos of being a voting virgin.


    This type of mindset from constituents of our supposed democracy (*ahem* Republic) is manked.

  2. Queen: you must be drowning in a sea of redstate negativity wherever you are, because few here in the Pacific NW would shake their head at this, nor would they dismiss/ignore moms or take their views lightly.

    Love the graphics on yer blog, BTW.

    – Eric Weaver
    New and Improved in Seattle

  3. I am not well versed in American politics, but I do agree that Oprah is trusted and will be listened to by many women. I’m curious if some women will see this as commercializing the vote and if so, will later feel duped by her or Obama. I’m asking the question out of sheer ignorance because I don’t know the answer.
    Either way, encouraging women to vote is vital and I sure hope it works – we could use a dose of Oprah up here for the same reason.

  4. Thank you so much for linking to my list of women blogging on politics.

  5. Wow… Are women *still* condescended to and trivialized so much in American politics? I had no idea.

  6. nice!
    And I’m tired of female pundits on tv referring to “soccer moms” like they don’t have a brain in their head because they aren’t currently making six figures or breaking a glass ceiling. We are powerful and smart and aware and could take your job in a second so stop the patronizing. It’s worse than when a man does it.

  7. I can’t even think of a comment right now. I’m still seething over the fact the candidates could give a shit less about us.

    Thank God for Oprah. At least she cares. Maybe she should run for president. Or at least public office. Junior Senator of Illinois, perhaps? She could fill Obama’s shoes when he wins.

    Wait. Did I just say that??

  8. Well at least, were thinking about what position we should take. Perhaps more information will help women who haven’t been involved in voting considering some of the issues we face today.

    My grandson 21, will be heading back to Iraq again in October of 08. I’m saddened and disgusted with our position yet, we have to support the soldiers currently serving in Iraq and heading back home. My blog grammology with the help of one of our local churches mailed over 500 care boxes, and our family bread company, mailed over 900 loaves of Father Sam’s pocket bread. When Gary was in Iraq he waited for any kind of mail, message, food, or gift box which we filled with toiletries food and surpriese. He treasured receiving anything marked home. It’s more important today then ever before to get involved. As Spain said, here your voice make a difference. I don’t think things will be getting better soon.

    My best,
    Dorothy from grammology
    call your gram

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