The Year of the Woman in politics is thrilling and appalling in one fell swoop
Yes, I'm excited that many women won their election bids on June 8. However, if I hear one more pronouncement, "Oh, it's the year of the woman!" I'll hurl. I'm with the ever straight-shooting Democratic US Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who -- in days gone by, in yet another "year" of the woman -- said, "Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We're not a fad, a fancy, or a year."
Women I don't like have won primaries; women I back have also won primaries. Hmmm. It sounds suspiciously like human beings! Just like "real" people, er, men, there are women I agree and disagree with. If I sound cranky, yes, it's true. I'm so tired of pointing out we have yet to attain equality, domestically and internationally, that I come by my crabbiness honestly. Let me point you toward a terrific Web site that has scads of statistics to show just how far we have to go in politics as a group; it is called Online Women In Politics.
So yes, both I'm thrilled and appalled. Here we are in 2010 and the percentage of women in Congress is still pathetically low; it's been stuck at 15 percent for a long time. Our statistics are worse than Bangladesh and Kazakhstan! Are you aware that Rwanda has a better rate of female legislators? As of 2003, nearly 50 percent of their parliament members were women. Rwandan women are not fads. They are citizens participating in their own governance.
Do I do think women are better than men? NO! Possibly less corrupt, but certainly as potentially corruptible as men. Do I think we should have equal -- not just better -- representation because we're superior? NO! Do I like that there are so many men in power, making decisions that impact my life on a daily basis? NO! I think we should be represented equally because we are citizens; no more, no less.
Early women's rights champion and mother of the women's vote Susan B. Anthony said, "Men: their rights and nothing more; women: their rights and nothing less."
Does it bug me that a bunch of conservative women are closing in on positions of power? YES! Does it also mean we have made progress toward a true democracy when people of my gender with whom I don't agree get involved with government? YES! Are there women I would never vote for? YES! This is the conundrum of being a full citizen. Did I really think, when I committed myself to my own liberation and the full equality of women and girls, that the conservative side would be excluded? NO!
Oh, and the "catty" comments? Please! Do people really think the "cat fighting" analogy only works for women? Do you really think that two men picking at each other aren't "catty?" If we're going to call people catty, let's include the men too, OK? Sure, Carly Fiorina is catty, but so is Rush Limbaugh. (And some other words I can't mention here.) And hair issues? Excuse me? You may recall that former Congressman Jim Rogan looked like he had roadkill duct-taped to his head. So, if you're going to be snarky about hair, don't forget the pates of the men in the races.
Since when do we call a male sweep of power "The Year of the Man?" Male dominance of almost ALL fields, not just politics, is the water we swim in ... it needs no name. And for people to kind of sloppily think that the US is soooo great for women makes me nutty. Don't get me wrong -- I love my country. I have great advantages because I live here, but NOT because I'm a woman: because I'm a citizen.
So, back to that conundrum. I know full well that when women worked so hard to attain the vote it was a first step. We also knew we'd be giving the vote to stupid women, just as stupid men were allowed to vote. Similarly, idiots are going to be elected. Women have the right to be boneheads, just like their brothers. And I've always said that Americans would go for conservative women far faster than liberal women. Once again, I hate being right.
So, here's to women moving out of "novelty" and into an era of "So what?" It's progress to see ideologically opposed women competing with each other for seats. And as Susan B. Anthony also said, "There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws." No tokens, no fads, just citizens.
PS: my show "Now That She's Gone" was selected to be the finale of the 1st Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival. There will be two performances on Sunday, June 27th: at noon and 7 p.m. Click here for tickets -- I'd love to see you there!
Note: This post appears both here and in my column in the June 24, 2010 issue of the Pasadena Weekly, for which it was written.