• Wed, Oct 24 2012

Study, CNN Say Women Vote Based On Ovulation, Not Information

ovulation voting study

"Are you there, Ovaries? It's me...a confused female voter."

Editor’s Note: CNN has removed the piece in question. We reflect on it over here. 

Remember how everything from the way you dress to the foods you eat to the men you date can all be traced back to what’s going on with your ovaries? According to a soon-to-be-published study, ovulation is also one of the driving factors behind how you vote. Because apparently ovulation is better at understanding foreign policy, economic plans, reproductive health issues, and voting record? Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and call BS on this. And on CNN’s coverage of it.

Apparently, the lead researcher of the study is pretty into looking at how ovulation turns women into hormone-fueled robots whose brains are firmly rooted in their wombs. Kristina Durante of the University of Texas, San Antonio, is also the lady behind that one study about how women buy sexier clothes when their eggs are bursting forth into their fallopian tubes.

But, because we’re just two weeks out from a major election and everyone is trying to hone in on the nation’s collective political fever (guilty as charged), she’s turned her attention toward how hormones influence our decisions at the ballot box. And boy do they, according to her! And, kind of, according to CNN and its lack of skepticism.

From CNN’s story, regarding Durante’s study–which, by the way, did a pretty disappointing job pointing out the many, many flaws with this hypothesis and conclusion:

The researchers found that during the fertile time of the month…single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women appeared more likely to vote for Romney, by a margin of at least 20%, Durante said. This seems to be the driver behind the researchers’ overall observation that single women were inclined toward Obama and committed women leaned toward Romney.

But why? Why would America’s single women–who, ostensibly, need access to affordable women’s health care and are concerned about the gender pay gap, both of which are subjects where the current President receives better marks overall–vote for Obama?

Obviously, because they  “feel sexier,” according to CNN and Durante, and thus, they care more about abortion and other social issues. Because abortion is probably about the sexiest thing I can think of, and only fertile trollops care about reproductive health, right?

To which I say: No. Sure, hormones may drive small decisions in the lives of women–like whether or not to get that extra shot of espresso, and maybe even whether or not to wear heels to work–and yes, there are plenty of undecided voters out there who may be swayed by minor things.

But when it comes to voting for a Presidential candidate, I’m pretty sure most of us are more interested in how the candidates will benefit us and how they stack up with our own morals and objectives.

There are a lot more nuanced reasons why women vote the way they do. And suggesting that all it takes to get female voters to cast their ballot in the favor of one candidate or another is to ensure that election day falls close to their fertile time of the month is just a hop, skip, and a tampon ad away from deciding that we’re just too hysterical to vote at all.

Image: SFC via Shutterstock

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  • A More Positive Interpretation

    So much better to be reactionary and trash a scientific study rather than think for a moment about why it makes sense and what it really suggests. If you assume that all people act rationally, it means that they factor all information which is relevant at the time. In this case, isn’t it amazing that the human brain can incorporate a factor like ovulation and seamlessly integrate how that might impact priorities, needs, risk, etc. (by the way, men do the same thing in a different way http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/muscular-strength-politics-men_n_2004172.html?ref=topbar). It’s completely logical that a single woman who isn’t ready to have a baby might shift preferences toward a party that supports a woman’s right to choose when she’s ovulating. Why? That issue might feel somewhat more important in that time. Similarly, a married woman might place higher importance on traditional family values. You choose the most insulting and exaggerated possible interpretation. I call it a celebration of the human body and of a woman’s ability to act intelligently.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YRZ4ZGB4QBWUETLKEZH4TFHWXY Sigh…

      Birth control matters to married women (and their husbands) too. It’s not like we stop caring about our civil rights just because we got married, and we would also like to maintain a healthy sexual relationship with our husbands without the risk of extending our families beyond our financial means. Birth control also serves other medical purposes that aren’t magically cured by marriage. As for traditional family values, that’s a pretty subjective term and most of us do not consider family values and birth control mutually exclusive. If anything, civil liberties and medical coverage are even more important to me now that I’m a parent because I want to ensure that my own children have the same rights and protections under the law that I do, if not more, and that society doesn’t go backward where equality is concerned. Also, I don’t know anyone whose voting habits change throughout the course of a single month. Food preferences and fashion choices maybe, but not our basic personalities and philosophies.

    • JK

      It is NOT “completely logical” for a woman to shift preferences while ovulating. A woman has some serious hormone imbalances if she changes her mind every time she ovulates. You are making an argument against intelligence, not for it. If a woman is making a decision based on hormones, it has nothing to do with intelligence, and in fact suggests that we don’t use or have the same mental capacity as men. I am a married woman and I make decisions the same way I made them as a single woman: I use the cerebral cortex in my brain that makes complex decisions based on knowledge, experience, values and societial influences. My hormones might make me temporarily crankier about the candidate I already dislike, but they certainly don’t reduce me to a single-celled organism who’s actions are controlled solely by chemical reactions. This study is utterly insulting to women and suggests that we are inferior.

  • Rose

    While I do agree that our 28-day cycle can be something of a rollercoaster ride, with ups and downs, I refuse to accept that ovaries rule my life. Who are politicians and marketing experts going to target now…my brain or my ovaries?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenniellingson Jenni Ellingson Wall

    It was arguments like this that were used to keep the right to vote from women for generations: Men use reason and logic, whereas women are driven by instinct and female hormones and therefore unable to make responsible decisions for society. This discourse frightens me and makes me wonder what century we’re living in. Women are not animals who think only of the welfare of their families at one time of the month and of their reproductive rights in another. Let’s see a “scientific study” that explores what stimuli might influence men’s voting. Pictures of bikini models or sports cars? I guarantee you men in a lab are no less subject to manipulation than women. However, if we can’t trust women and men to make big important decisions, we can follow this logic all the way to dictatorship.