State of the Union Drinking Game: It’s All About Women

Glass of wineFor years I played the “drinking game” during the State of the Union speech, but it got so I couldn’t make a dent in a single glass of wine when it came to counting the number of times the word “women” was uttered. A mention or two of “men and women in the military” was just about it. (I must confess I did get a little tipsy with one of W’s speeches, the year my word was “noo-cue-ler.”)

So this year I decided to broaden my game, and play “State of the Union Bingo,” invented by the American Association of University Women to gauge President Obama’s attention to the majority — female voters. Bingo had lots of words and phrases to count — equal pay, contraception, gun violence, minimum wage, student loans, and more.

At first glance you might wonder why terms like “minimum wage” pertain to women more than men. Simple. Adult women are the majority of minimum wage workers. Student loans? Female college students have to borrow more, and thanks to that ever-present wage gap, take longer to pay loans off after graduation. And while men own the majority of guns, women are the overwhelming majority of those murdered with firearms in domestic violence and stalking cases.

So when the president acknowledged that women are the majority of low-wage workers in announcing his plan to issue an executive order raising the minimum for workers under new federal contracts, it was good news. But even though he got some of the strongest applause of the evening when he said women deserve equal pay for equal work, he stopped short of directly addressing the gender wage gap with other executive orders women’s groups have been pushing — like requiring contractors to issue public reports on how they pay women and how they pay men, and prohibiting retaliation for discussing pay with co-workers. Instead, he merely called on Congress, the White House, and business to “come together to give every woman the opportunity she deserves.”

The president chose women to single out in the audience as examples of business owners, the newly insured, and those who are still looking for work. But while he spent a big chunk of time praising our troops and talking about deterring Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nothing was said about remedies for the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military. Reproductive rights, constantly under attack, were left out as well.

President Obama did stress income inequality, which is still more unequal for women than men. He also mentioned universal pre-kindergarten, easing the student loan burden, and gun violence, all of which affect females disproportionately (though he didn’t make the connection directly).

While I knew State of the Union Bingo wasn’t going to turn me into a candidate for Alcoholics Anonymous, I was hoping to get a full glass of vino out of the speech. It was more like half a glass.

We’ve heard good words from Obama before, and we know from experience there’s been “many a slip twixt the cup and lip.” But if the president can just turn his rhetoric about women into a small part of reality, I’ll drink to that any time.

Martha Burk is the author of Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics and the Change We Need! and Cult of Power: The Inside Story of the Fight to Open Augusta National Golf Club, and How It Exposed the Ingrained Corporate Sexism That Kept Women Down.

Image via iStockphoto

Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
Nancy Reagan dies, Just Say No, Ronald Reagan
A Not-So-Positive Ode to Nancy Reagan’s Frothy “Just Say No” Campaign
I Married for Health Insurance
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Trump Reality Check, Now with Actual Facts!
Fascism Facts
I Married for Health Insurance
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Women’s Elections Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Token Drop in an Abysmal Bucket & the Plight of Women Under Sharia Law
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
The Vital Voice of Hillary Clinton: Part 1
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread