Attention, Democrats

If They Only Listened to Us
What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear
Melinda Henneberger
Simon & Schuster, $25, 240 pp.

 

In If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear, veteran reporter Melinda Henneberger concludes that women-particularly Catholic women who are Democrats like her-want (ta dah!) “everything.” But she also discovers that women will settle for “respect, a willing ear, and a comfort level with the [religious] faith that is a big part of life for a lot of us. Maybe more than anything, we want to be heard, and ultimately, of course, it is up to us to make sure that we are.” To reach these conclusions, Henneberger, who writes for Slate and for Commonweal, tries a somewhat risky journalistic experiment: “I have never been a big believer in the magic of clever questioning, and have long agreed with what Janet Malcolm wrote years ago in The Journalist and the Murderer about her discovery that people will, for their own reasons, tell their stories pretty much the same way whether in response to a brilliant question or a half-formed one.” In other words, Henneberger will not ask a lot of questions as she covers twenty states in eighteen months talking with scores of Thalias, Jeannies, Pams, Cathies, Jackies, Kitties (including Dukakis) in female hangouts (coffee shops, living rooms, dermatologists’ offices, minivans, offices, and kitchens) about myriad topics (abortion, the Iraq war, poverty, Hurricane Katrina, immigration, the environment, and more). Henneberger will just listen and report...

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About the Author

Jean Hughes Raber teaches journalism at Michigan State University.