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Subject: Article that may be useful?
Date: 6/22/99

MY QUESTION TO THE CANDIDATES: Were You There When A Woman REALLY Needed You?

--Celeste Harrison Whitlow

I have the same dream as anybody who has ever watched an interview of a presidential candidate. I dream that some day, by some miracle, I will be granted one question to ask the candidates; a question they must answer truthfully. Because I am a woman, I would want my question to be a REAL question about the candidate's attitude towards women, and their knowledge of REAL women issues. Because of presidential campaigns being such highly scripted affairs, with candidates' maneuvering for media coverage of the good and compassionate things they do--I would want their answers to indicate something about the way they have functioned in society, when they were needed, and when nobody was looking. And, because of today's political climate of "sound-byte campaigning," I would want my question to be one which would be totally unanticipated, and one for which they will not have been able to prepare.

So here is my question for the 2000 presidential candidates:

"Have you ever gone to the store to buy tampons for a woman?"

At first glance, that may seem like an odd question. However, I think the answer would tell us a lot about the man who wants to be our president.

1) We would immediately know whether he would be bewildered by a supermarket scanner, like President Bush was. I mean, I don't think Americans, as a rule, have a problem with rich people being president. It's the rich people who have never deemed it desirable to mingle with the regular Joes and Josephines--rich people who are clueless about what the average American person experiences, needs and desires--who we don't have much use for.

2) We would know how secure the candidate is in his masculinity. A man who will: **spend the length of time necessary in the "feminine needs" aisle of a supermarket, finding the right product-- **stand in line where others will have a chance to look in his basket, and then at him, and back into the basket, and then back to him again-- **stand patiently while a checker runs the box of tampons several times over a scanner (because they never scan the first time), while the other people in line are looking at what the checker is trying to scan, and at the man, and at what she is trying to scan, and then back at the man-- **continue to wait patiently while the checker calls over the intercom for a price check because the box of tampons wouldn't scan, while the people in line are now markedly trying NOT to look at what the checker is now waving over her head for the price-checker to see-- **and then pay the cashier and wait for change, while she asks, "Would you like a bag for your tampons?"-- Is a man who is secure in his maleness. No sissy-boy could stand up to such a challenge.

3) We would know without a doubt how compassionate this candidate is towards a woman's needs. Face it--no man will ever sit on the commode before they go to bed at night, find out that "mother nature" has arrived, reach into the cabinet for a tampon, only to find their teenage daughter has used the last 55 in the box. So a man who will, without complaint, get dressed and schlep out to the local 7-11 at midnight to buy a box of tampons, is indeed compassionate to the REAL trials and tribulations women must address. When it comes down to brass tacks, talk about daycare is necessary, but its importance seems to diminish when it is late at night, cold and dark outside, and a woman is caught without feminine supplies. It is at this moment that the woman knows who her REAL hero is.

4) We would know if the candidate is not only aware of women's issues, but is willing to effectively deal with them, no matter how unpleasant it may be. It is one thing for a man to be aware that his wife is sitting on the can at midnight, in distress because she is caught unprepared for her monthly visit from her Aunt Flo. It's another thing to get up (sometimes WAKE up), get dressed, and go out to do what is needed to address the problem. A man who would rise to the occasion at such a time is not only a man who is aware of women's issues--he's a man who is not afraid to deal with them. And if he comes back with some chocolate, too, we are talking a candidate for saint-hood here.

5) We would know if he can follow detailed and confusing instructions, and remember the instructions for the amount of time it takes him to get to the nearest store. I would hope that most of the jobs our candidate would face as President of the United States would not be nearly as confusing and vexing as buying a box of tampons, but there just might be some equally challenging tasks. Therefore, we need to know if he can: ***Pay attention to instructions, and understand them. A set of instructions like, "Get Tampax, but only if they have the molded-tip applicator. If they do, get Niagra-Falls strength, at least 60 in the box. If they don't have the Niagra-Falls strength, get 120 of the Regular strength. Unless the Regular strength boxes look old, because they sometimes do at that store. If so, then forget it and get OB tampons. They are in little boxes because there is no applicator. But they are really fat so don't get the "Man the Lifeboats!" strength, but only the "Raging River" size. Get at least a box of 60, unless they are on sale, then do a unit-price comparison. But if the OBs are really expensive, which they usually are at that market, get the Modess tampons. They are in the pink box. They don't have them a lot of the time, and when they do they usually are the scented type, which you know gives me a rash, so don't get them if they are scented. If you get the Modess, get the "Old Faithful Geyser" strength. With Modess, get only 40 because I won't use as many, and I don't like them the best, so the other 20 would be wasted when I got the brand I liked. Oh, if any of these have the top of the box cut, like the box-boys sometimes do when they open the big cartons, then don't buy them because they could be contaminated. Ask the store manager to open a fresh carton so that you can get a box that has not been tampered with." **Carry out the instructions under stressful conditions (see #2, above), and, **Complete the task within a reasonable amount of time. A man who would stop off for a beer on the way home from buying tampons for his wife is NOT a man I want sitting in the Oval Office. With that kind of poor judgment, he needs to be at least three states away from the Red Button.

So if my dream ever comes true, and I get to ask my question of the presidential candidates, we'll know the REAL scoop of what kind of men we are dealing with---if they don't all faint dead away when they hear the question, that is.

Copyrighted June 1999