Things are getting heated on social media in the fallout from Monday’s Iowa caucus. But one common theme keeps surfacing for female supporters of Hillary Clinton: They’re being accused of “voting with your vagina.”
The term first surfaced on a national level in June when Susan Sarandon told the New York Daily News that she supports Bernie Sanders, adding “I don’t vote with my vagina.” Lena Dunham’s Lenny newsletter noted that it’s repeatedly come up in recent months, and there are many new tweets to prove it:
It’s worth pointing out that these messages are coming from men and women. But why are they bringing female anatomy into this?
Because it’s demeaning, clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of “Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life” tells Yahoo Health. “It devalues all else that a woman is — her intelligence, personality, social smarts, skills, capabilities, strength, etc.,” he says.
It also implies that the only quality that a woman has that’s of value is her genitals, he adds. When it comes to politics and political views, all bets are off which could be explain women are using the phrase against other women as well.
The phrase is meant to be offensive, and it is, Mayer says: “It insults the other core elements that make up a person and a woman.”
Why are some people using it? It’s bullying 101: They’re hoping to get a rise out of people they see as their political enemies.
“The perpetrators of this type of statement hope to get an emotional reaction from woman and then this plays right into the bully’s aims,” says Mayer. If a woman emotionally reacts to the insult, the bully will see it as additional evidence that women are “emotional” and therefore incapable of making sound political decisions.
But, like other bullying techniques, it’s best to ignore it. Says Mayer: “There is no winning in reacting to such ridiculous comments.”
Also: While voting booths vary by state, Yahoo Health cautions against attempting to literally vote with your vagina.