“This is how she’s going to try to win the White House. She is going to go to — she needs the single ladies vote — I call them the Beyoncé voters, the single ladies. Obama won single ladies by 76 percent last time and they made up about a quarter of the electorate.”
Well, okay, nothing to really write home about there. But then, he continued:
“They depend on government because they’re not depending on their husbands. They need things like contraception, health care, and they love to talk about equal pay.”
Record scratch. They what?
In response to Watters, Sarah Coughlon created the Tumblr blog Beyoncé Voters Tuesday and it took off almost immediately. It’s photos of various politicos, most but not all Democrats, accompanied by Beyoncé lyrics in the distinctive pink typeface she used for her self-titled album, “BEYONCÉ.” “I thought, ‘Hillary Clinton and Beyoncé, these are the Internet’s two favorite things,’” Coughlon said. “How did no one do this in the past two weeks?”
Coughlon, 20, is a rising senior at Harvard from Phoenix, Ariz. The self-described feminist is applying to PhD programs to continue her studies in psychology and writing her thesis on the psychology of how we decide what’s right and wrong. “I want to know why we have such strong feelings about all of this,” said Coughlon, who is also a contributor to the Harvard Political Review.
The memes are funny, but the thinking behind them is heavily contemplated. When the Hobby Lobby decision was announced, “I was so pissed,” Coughlon said. “I felt sort of bad for my roommate and my boyfriend and everyone who had to be around me that whole week. I took a nap and then, when I woke up, I had fewer statutory rights than when I went to sleep.”
Then she saw Watters.
“I thought, ‘That’s cute. The thought seemed to be that young women are voting for Democrats for the same reason they’re listening to Beyoncé: Beyoncé is cool. Obama is cool. Birth control and equal pay are also cool, I guess?’”
Coughlon was frustrated at what she saw as a glaring, condescending oversimplification of the birth control issue, and chose to poke fun at it in a way reminiscent of the Binders Full of Women Tumblr that took off following the presidential debate when Mitt Romney first used the phrase.
“There are seven layers of problematic assumptions there,” she said. “One can not be married and have sex and be a moral productive person. Whatever. I have sex and I’m applying to grad school. I have sex and I go to Harvard. There is a more basic failure to accept that sex other than this very particular form of procreative married sex is okay.
“A lot of this, I think, is just a really striking cultural difference. If anything, there’s all these other types of sex that are stigmatized — queer sex, trans sex, poor people having sex — and of all the things, well-educated, upwardly mobile white straight women having sex is controversial. What’s also frustrating I’m in the incredibly privileged position of not being affected by the ruling. I’m on a secular university health plan. There are extremely structural disadvantaged people who will have a harder time in their lives because of this decision. We are still so afraid of college women having sex that we’re going to deny working women birth control or low income women who are dependent on religious charities’ health care.”