My doctoral dissertation was on voter mobilization campaigns. After the birth of my children, I moved toward writing about feminist and motherhood issues. These days, I’m tackling the subject of grandparenting in a new book I’m writing as I watch my own parents with their grandchildren. It’s pretty exciting, then, to watch all my subjects converge with the recent attention on voter mobilization and grandparents. In 2008, Sarah Silverman worked with a PAC to create a funny video designed to convince young people to persuade their Floridian Jewish grandparents to vote for Obama.
These days, in a reversal video, another PAC has grandparents convincing their grandchildren that the fate of the country rests on them voting for Clinton. Hillary Clinton herself has been trying to persuade Abuelitas to use their influence to convince their children and grandchildren to vote. Clinton often refers to her experience as a grandmother to show her vested interest in the next generation and share what she has in common with others in her age group. She has faced some criticism for claiming more in common than she has with those of specific cultural groups. They have pointed out that their experiences are different, which Clinton acknowledged recently to an audience of men and women of color, particularly referring to grandparents.
It’s nice, though, to see an older population getting attention and being seen as an influence on the campaign. Much attention has been spent on the idea of Clinton as making important progress in advancing the cause for women. As a woman of a certain age, she may also have the potential to shift how we think about the elderly, particularly the female elderly. Much attention has been paid to her bout with pneumonia and her “cover-up” of it. Yet, with the way that popular media typically depicts elderly women as frail and needy, it’s no wonder to me that she wouldn’t advertise any type of frailty. As more and more products and media emphasize youth, I hope that this election can also be a chance to think about when age and gender intersect.
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