Why political candidates should be sucking up to women

According to the authors of "The She Spot," there's plenty of money and free P.R. to be had.

Published June 2, 2008 8:15PM (EDT)

If Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen are to be believed, women are poised to take over the world -- or at least to make it a bit more liberal. Coauthors of "The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World -- And How to Reach Them," Witter and Chen looked at how marketing data on women can be used by nonprofits and political campaigns to appeal to female donors. AlterNet has an excerpt from the book today, featuring six reasons why women (by which they seem to mean, American women) are "the market for changing the world," based on what's known about our habits as consumers: We control slightly more than half of the world's wealth (who knew?), and we make 83 percent of household purchasing decisions; when we have money, we're more likely than men to donate it to charitable and political causes; we can work word of mouth like nobody's business; we vote more than men, especially for Democrats; we volunteer more of our time; and what sells to us will often -- contrary to the marketing wisdom of yore -- sell to men, too. (Women tend to research everything from new cars to charitable organizations more thoroughly than men do, and "when you appeal to the toughest customer, you'll have covered the bases on many of the factors that can turn a 'maybe' into a 'yes' -- whether your target audience is a man or woman.")

If charities and political candidates learn more about what women want (something they've been slower to do than corporations), they can tap into a whole bunch of money and free P.R. they've been missing out on, say Witter and Chen. "Not only do women have the power to profoundly influence the world of consumer goods, they also have the power to rouse and accelerate our ability to do good -- provided we know to unleash that power."

Here's the problem: Nobody cares. (Yet.) Because half the population has long been considered a "niche market," many of the people who could benefit from women's purchasing and social power still haven't quite clued in to it. Or, as Witter and Chen stingingly put it, "While we've demonstrated why women matter, making them count is a whole other story."

By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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