Jamie Lee Curtis Voting for women is more than gender politics. It's opting to create real change.

If gender parity in politics doesn't make a difference in the policies that got enacted, then why do things change when more women are in office?
Image: Jame Lee Curtis on TODAY on Nov. 21, 2019.
Jame Lee Curtis on TODAY on Nov. 21, 2019.Nathan Congleton / NBC
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By Jamie Lee Curtis

Thanksgiving is an American tradition — one based on a story about two different peoples coming together to share a meal (even if it was really the Native Americans saving the lives of the colonists). That bridging of differences has always been one of the key messages of Thanksgiving.

The other has always been taking that moment to give thanks. Everybody says, "I give thanks for my family, I give thanks for my job, I give my thanks for my whatever." But this year, give thanks that you have the right to vote for what you believe in. Kindness, generosity and politics aside, the only way you're going to preserve democracy is to vote. The only way you're going to vote is if you register to vote, if you're able to.

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And when you're voting, I do think it's important to vote for female candidates. That's one reason why I agreed to lend my voice to Fund Her, which is dedicated to getting gender parity in the California Legislature. California is the most progressive state, and we're the fifth-largest economy in the world but we're 18th in terms of the percentage of women in the state legislature; not even 33 percent of our representatives in the state are women. But whatever California does, the world does — so, when my ex-sister-in law, Jill Demby Guest, a very progressive woman who has been working in California politics for a long time, asked me to narrate a video for Fund Her (she sits on its advisory board), to focus on getting the California state Legislature to gender parity, I said yes.

I understand that there are people who disagree with trying to achieve gender parity; I know that they believe that voters should just pick a candidate based on their qualifications, and the issues to which you connect and about which you care. My belief, however, is that women, as a gender, see things a little differently. Partly that is because most women — 86 percent — are or will become mothers, and mothers care about the environment that their children are growing up in, about the education that their children are going to get, about the reproductive right of women, and about violence and gun control. These are all areas that affect children, and in turn, affect their mothers. It makes sense to me that more women in power are going to work harder to enact legislation that is more focused on these areas.

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And, I do believe that, as soon as women take positions of authority, more young people — both boys and girls — will see that women can be effective leaders. They certainly have done so in other countries, like Iceland, Germany and New Zealand. We here in America are Luddites when it comes to many things, whether it's the environment, technology, or women in a leadership position. But nothing changes unless something changes.

Unfortunately, right now, we live in a misogynist society and a lot of men hate women. They just do. I think that seeing a strong woman articulate her points, argue for her position, and even get angry about the disparities she faces — whatever they are — will cause some men to have a problem, even if women won't. (If women do, then they ought to look in the mirror.) But that's another reason to elect more women: The more common it is to see strong women in power, the more difficult it becomes for people to see that as inherently problematic.

Being involved in Fund Her was an extension of my involvement in the 2016 elections. I hadn't meant to get so involved: The honest-to-God truth is that I'm primarily focused on volunteering with the Children's Hospital Los Angeles. But, when Hillary Clinton was running, I was on the TV show "Scream Queens," and there was a moment at the Golden Globe Awards when somebody asked me what I was doing about the election and I admitted that I had nothing, really, except to give money — which seemed cheap.

Now, in the show — remember, it was called "Scream Queens," and it was a Ryan Murphy show — there was a scene in which a girl hurt herself by sticking a stiletto in her own eye. So I said, somewhat jokingly to the journalist, "If I don't do something to help Hillary Clinton get elected, then I should stick a stiletto in my own eye, because then I am a hypocrite because I'm geschrei-ing about it."

The next day, Clinton's people called me and, within a week, I ended up campaigning for her in Iowa with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. The two of us were driving around the tundra of Iowa, going to house parties, talking about Clinton. That was my beginning in politics. Everyone needs to start somewhere; you can't affect change until you affect change.

As told to THINK editor Megan Carpentier, edited and condensed for clarity.

CORRECTION (Nov. 27, 2:26 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the percentage of women in the California legislature. It is now 32 percent, not 25 percent (the figure for 2018).