What DO women care about?

This is an interesting question that came up today during an interview I did with CNN reporter Lisa Sylvester today.  She wanted to do a story on what kind of impression this year’s elections are making on women, whether the political candidates of this year are reaching women and the issues that affect women today.

I find this to be a fascinating question, because I always thought women cared about what anyone cares about – supporting their families, living their lives, achieving, earning and generally being secure and happy. How that differs from men, I don’t know, but I do know that politicians have somehow targeted women as this special interest group, instead of Americans who care about what everyone cares about.

I was glad to sit down with Lisa and grateful that she allowed me to spew my views on national television. The interview also got me thinking. Am I just a demographic? Are my interests and concerns so different from men? I am a woman. I am a military veteran. I am a mother. I have kids. I have a job – TWO jobs, in fact. I earn, I strive to achieve and I work to raise my kids the best way I know how.

So why is it politicians insist on singling me out because of my plumbing? Why do they perpetuate the misconception that somehow my concerns are different from the concerns of the rest of Americans? Why do they talk about this alleged “war” that’s being waged on me and people like me?

As I told Lisa, I don’t understand this “war on women” scenario that the Democrats are trying to foist upon me. I have friends who have been deployed to Afghanistan. People I know, have worked with and like have been hurt, both physically and emotionally, and some have even died.

THAT is war.

My refusal to pay for Sandra Fluke’s social choices and her birth control is not war!

The fact that the tax payers shouldn’t be forced to fund others’ health care choices is not war!

The fact that some women get paid less than men is not war! Is it unfair? Yes, sometimes – depending on the job.  Is it prevalent or so pervasive as to cause women to be less able to achieve their dreams? No. Is it improving? From everything I’ve read from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, yes. It is. But war? Talk about your hysterical hyperbole!!!

So, what is it that women care about?

To me, it’s simple. I said this to CNN, and I’ll say it here. We care about being able to raise children, to purchase the things they need, to learn, to achieve, and to live our lives.  We are not some sweet little weak minority that needs government care and protection any more than men do. We don’t need special government programs. We need to be left alone to achieve.

My goal is not equality of outcome, it’s the equality of opportunity. And I think more and more, women are achieving just that.  We don’t need government programs to help us achieve a certain outcome. We need to have a level playing field. That is not achieved by government interference – by a myriad of regulations that force employers to spend money wading through red tape, pay lawyers and accountants to ensure compliance, and ultimately put many smaller companies out of business, because they can’t afford the compliance costs. It’s achieved by intelligent people in a free market, who recognize talent, intelligence and drive.

I started out as a bartender after I graduated college. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I had this degree from this great school, and I couldn’t find myself interested in anything. I decided to enlist in the US Army after a year of bartending and waiting tables. I was a broadcast journalist – a mere E4 when I came in. I could have become an officer. I chose not to.

The military gave me the knowledge, skills and abilities to get a broadcasting job after I left the Army. It was a low-paying job, but I made the choice to take it. Did I complain about being paid $22,000 per year with a college degree and graduate-level work under my belt? No.  I made the choice to work there, and I certainly didn’t sue my employer for my paltry paycheck that was likely lower than my male counterparts’.   I knew that I would eventually advance.

When I decided to leave the radio station for a better-paying job, I was offered a raise. The owners knew my work and appreciated it. They felt I was worth a raise. That’s how you advance!

I left anyway for a job with a direct mail marketing firm – a job I still do on a part-time basis. I started out as a copywriter earning $27,000 and three years later was promoted to Creative Director.  Two years after that, based on the work I did, I got a 20 percent raise. When I deployed to Kosovo in 2007, my salary had doubled from when I started. That’s how you advance!

Three months after I got back from the Balkans, I got an offer to work for a government contractor. The raise was significant, and I left the marketing firm.  I worked my ass off, and my bosses noticed. I got more responsibilities, and ultimately applied for, and got, a permanent position with the government. A year and a half after that, I applied for, and got, a promotion and another significant raise. That’s how you advance!

You work. You pay your dues. You achieve. And ultimately, you get noticed, appreciated and rewarded.

I didn’t need a special government program to advance, nor did I need a special law to ensure I got fairly paid.  I accepted the jobs I had – freely and without coercion – and that is fair!

I didn’t need politicians telling me that I can’t achieve without them.

I just did what I had to do, and achieved what I wanted.

I’m not special. I’m not gifted. I’m not anymore capable or smarter than anyone else.

But I work hard, and I don’t give up. And I certainly don’t need politicians to force potential employers to reward that. If they’re smart, they’ll do so on their own. And if they don’t, it will be their loss in the end.

I can’t speak for other women, but what I want is to be left alone by politicians to do what I need to do for myself and my family – not taxed to death for being “rich”; not reviled for my achievements; not told I need to pay my share, which I already do and then some; not forced to fund government programs meant to ensnare voters into dependency and give politicians more votes.

And by the way, if you’re wondering how the interview went, I think it went really well. Lisa is very kind, knowledgeable and intelligent.  She let me have my say. And while I know there’s no way the entire interview will air, I think she will portray my views fairly and objectively. The fact that she took the effort to find a conservative voice in a sea of liberal ones here in Northern Virginia in order to have a balanced story is an indicator of the caliber of journalist she is.

And she liked Tucker!

WIN!

5 responses

  1. Nicki, glad I got to read this. The most uplifting part of my day. Continuing best wishes to you and yours!

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    1. Thanks much! Same to you and yours.

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  2. […] will post a link as soon as I get it. It’s not up yet, but the story will re-air tomorrow in the 6pm hour on CNN, if you care to watch it. Share […]

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  3. Nicki, your success is remarkable and I agree on issues of less taxation, not telling what to do, leave the choices to the women and Americans vs.women rhetoric. But I see an ethical dilemma – you advanced by the means of working ‘freely and without coercion’ for the government, in war zones, not in charities, schools, grassroots or non-profit organizations. So, how shall we eliminate the disparity, in this case, without interference of the government and taxation of more capable (200K+ per year)? I am very tempted to write about distribution venues..Maybe less should have been spent on the wars..Your opinion?

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    1. Ilana, I advanced by serving my nation on active duty for four years, and in the National Guard – sometimes in war zones and sometimes in helping victims of natural disasters (something I see as the National Guard’s vital function). I wanted to help ensure my adopted nation and her people are safe, which is why I joined the military in the first place, and why I continue to do what I do today, although not in the military. Having a military to guard our borders and protect our citizens is and should be one of the very few, legitimate functions of a national government. An average of $360 billion has been spent annually over the past 10 years on the wars. And yes, I agree we shouldn’t have gotten involved in many of the wars, and I also oppose using the military as a nation-building force or as a way to change national governments by force. I certainly don’t agree with every mission our government uses the military for. But that’s what we have an electorate for – to change said government if need be. But the overall mission of the nation’s military remains, and it’s an honorable one – one I’m very proud to be a part of.

      Let me know if I can give you any info should you choose to write about it. I do believe there are plenty of cuts that can be made without weakening our nation.

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