Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Women Fading Once More into Political Background"

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No. Seriously! That headline was in my local dead tree paper this AM! This, I thought, I gotta see!

Ruth Marcus in what the Washington Post titled: Are women in politics making two steps forward, one step back?, starts off with a look at the bad old days:

At fancy Washington dinner parties decades ago, it was the custom for men and women to part ways after the meal. The men stayed at the table for brandy, cigars and Serious Talk; the women, as Katharine Graham recounted in her autobiography, retreated “to powder their noses and gossip.”

She goes on to wax eloquent about Hillary and Geraldine Ferraro:

Absent the phenomenon of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton would have been president — and the arc of gender politics would have taken on a far rosier hue. In 1984, when Ferraro was tapped to be the vice presidential nominee, there were only 24 women in Congress, including two senators. Today, there are 88, including 17 senators (the most senators ever). The overt sexism that Ferraro encountered — questions about whether she could bake muffins or, alternatively, pull the nuclear trigger — is inconceivable today.

And then, (cue the "Jaws" music) it gets really sinister:

On the other hand, the number of women in Congress fell this past year, although slightly. Perhaps more alarming, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, the number of women in state legislatures, a breeding ground for national politics, dropped by 81, a full percentage point.
(emphasis mine)

OMG! The number of women in Congress fell slightly!!! And in state legislatures, it was a full one percent!!!!!! Retreat to your fainting couches! Run to your kitchens and bake cookies! The Women's Movement is doomed!!!

2008 brought us the second, serious woman vice presidential candidate and the second female Secretary of State*. There are at least three women being talked today about as potential presidential candidates in 2012, and at least two of them would probably settle for veep, if push came to shove. So why the, if you'll pardon the pun, hysteria?

So, if 81 is one percent, then there are still over 8,000 women in the fifty states' legislatures. In 2010, you had numerous women running for the US Senate. In California, one of the nation's largest states, you had two women running for the same Senate seat and a woman running for governor. 2010 just wasn't the Year of the Conservative Woman.

I think Ms. Marcus' angst is a tad premature. She concludes her column:
The Ferraro aftermath notwithstanding, it’s unimaginable that, sometime in the next 27 years, there won’t be a woman elected president. Or is it?

Ruth: There's a possibility that in the next 19 months a woman will be elected president. Save your gloom and doom at least until the 2012 primaries are over.

*Okay. Technically it was 2009, but the stage was set in 2008.

Cross posted at LCR, Say Anything, Lady Cincinnatus .

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