Wendy Davis explains 'Pussy Hat Economics'

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Wendy Davis, former Texas state senator and gubernatorial candidate, said in a lecture Tuesday that supporting women’s reproductive rights puts more women in the workforce, and in turn, boosts
the economy.

Davis’ economic concept, which she named “Pussy Hat Economics” after the knitted hats popularized during the nationwide women’s marches in January, is based on the fact that women make roughly 80 percent of the buying decisions in the U.S.

When women have more control over their reproductive rights, they’re able to take a larger role in the workforce, Davis said. She said because women are the primary consumers in the country, more money being made by women means more money going back into the economy.

“When we create a workforce that includes women and we pass policies that make sure that women have an opportunity to have a vibrant part in our workforce, then our economy does well for everyone,” Davis said during a press conference.

Davis, known for her work on women’s reproductive rights and gender equality, spoke to an audience of hundreds at the LBJ Auditorium in this year’s Dean Jack Otis Social Problem and Social
Policy Lecture.

During the lecture, she touched on her struggles as a woman in the government, and encouraged young women to take a larger role in advocacy. She said the best way to make women’s voices heard is to ensure there are enough women in government.

“When there aren’t women in the room … these issues are, of course, going to lag,” Davis said during the lecture.

Davis has also campaigned for women’s safety, particularly in regards to sexual assault. At a press conference before the lecture, Davis commented on UT’s recently released sexual assault study, which revealed one in seven female students is a victim of sexual assault while attending UT.

Davis commended UT System Chancellor William McRaven and the UT administration for conducting and releasing the study.

“What they’ve done actually is quite rare, and it’s commendable, and I hope that they’re going to set a tone for other universities to follow,” Davis said.

Davis, most famous for her 13-hour filibuster in 2013 to prevent the passing of an anti-abortion bill, brought some long-time fans to the lecture, such as Cedar Park retired teacher and UT alumna
Nancy Malito.

“I think she’s no-nonsense,” Malito said. “I think she’s clear-headed. I think she speaks for women, and young women in particular.”

Social work sophomore Susie Presley said gender equality is an important issue for her as a female student.

“There’s so many stereotypes around what women can and can’t do,” Presley said. “It’s nice to hear that there’s someone in such a conservative state standing up for what they believe in.”

Davis spoke about her year-old advocacy initiative, Deeds Not Words, which is a resource to help young women have a more active role in government.

“We need to make sure that we’re creating a climate where more women are empowered to feel that they ought to be stepping up for themselves,” Davis said. “Unless and until we’re reflected in the same numbers in legislatures across this country as we are in the general population, we can expect that issues that are important to us are going to continue to go unaddressed.”