I have made phone calls for all kinds of liberal organizations, and the one consistently disappointing result of these calls is when I attempt to call a woman but the phone is picked up by her husband who refuses to put his wife on the telephone line. First of all, these men obviously do not understand the database system that drives phone-banking, because if the person in our database is not reached, in this case the wife, then we automatically check the “Not Home” box. This means that the organization will be calling again and again until either the husband agrees to hand the phone over or the wife picks up. The reason for this is that women frequently do not share the same political or social views as their husbands, despite what these men may think. We want to hear what these women think from their own mouths, even if what they think is that our organization is a liberal waste of time.
My second issue with the responses of these men is that it is so blatantly disrespectful and sexist to answer for another person and deny them an opportunity to speak about what they think for themselves or to learn about new ideas. I have yet to encounter a woman who interrogates me about why I’m calling, and then says that her husband is not interested in what I have to say. Oftentimes, the men I speak to seem do this frequently on behalf of their wives. It’s the 21st century, husbands do not get to speak for their wives and decide their wives’ political views or their level of involvement, end of story. Even if these women were to take the phones and yell at me to stop calling themselves, I would take that over their husbands’ tyrannical control over communication. I will take a verbally abusive women over a condescending husband on the line any day. It is frustrating that I’ve encountered these men while making calls for every organization I’ve phone-banked for. From those being called by Planned Parenthood, to the MN Democratic Party, to the Hillary Clinton campaign, men who think they know what’s best for the women in their lives are everywhere. And I will continue to ignore what they say and call back later in an endless attempt to get the opinions of the people I'm actually targeting, instead of the opinions of husbands who think they are in charge.
--Sydney Spreck is a St. Olaf sophomore from Stillwater, MN, majoring in Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential primary elections.