Women in Politics


Thousands of people in 46 states rallied this past Saturday against the ‘War on Women.’ Though the marches received relatively little coverage from the so-called ‘liberal media’ (ha!), the issue of the GOP attacks on women are not going away.

Speaker Boehner will have you believe that the ‘War on Women’ is feminist hysterics. He’ll even throw a temper tantrum on the House floor to prove how upset it makes him. Steven Benen would like him to know that he could make the whole issue go away pretty simply: change your anti-woman policies.

Boehner can shout, point, and pound the podium to his heart’s content, but if he doesn’t want to be criticized for Republican measures that undermine women’s health, he should change his party’s agenda, not whine about Democrats shining a light on that agenda.

Rachel Maddow also recognizes that the GOP attacks on women is about policy. She put together a great segment highlighting the attacks and Republicans’ subsequent denial here: Maddow: GOP Denies War on Women. I encourage you to watch the whole thing.

Where I think Maddow really hits the nail on the head is when she points out that conservatives and progressives seem to be working from different facts. Just as the Republicans are currently denying they are waging a war on women, the same days/weeks that they are passing anti-woman legislation or taking money from women’s health programs, they seem to be clueless as to why they are being accused of this ‘war.’

As Maddow attempted to make a point about Equal Pay on yesterday’s Meet the Press, she was interrupted and treated condescendingly by GOP strategist and well-known sexist Alex Castellanos. He insisted that women don’t earn less than men by cherry-picking a small data point about single women ages 40-64. But he flat-out denied that women earn less than men, which is a well-documented fact.

Because the GOP is unwilling to change their policies that hurt women, they have to deny that any problem exists. They need women’s votes, as we are the demographic that elects the president. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if they choose to lighten up on the attacks in recognition of the political toll they are taking, or if they will double down and alienate the most important voter block at the risk of losing their jobs.

It’s time to stop talking about women and start listening to women. Or you can laugh at us and interrupt us like Alex Castellanos. It may be good television, but it’s bad politics.

A year or two ago I got fed up with the sexism of The Huffington Post (intentionally not linked). Try this and you’ll see what I mean: On any given day, go to their homepage and just scan your eyes down the page for stories about women. More often than not, they’re not actual news pieces, but gossip or polls dealing with some sensational tidbit meant to increase the website’s click count.

Today (for ‘research’ purposes I went there, though it makes me want to wash my hands) we have stories about Gaddafi aids, Bernie Madoff, and Lawrence O’Donnell, all accompanied by a picture of the man in question in a suit. For stories that feature women, we have ‘Jessica Simpson Tweets Photo of Herself from NYC Bathroom,’ ‘Kelly Clarkson Reveals Why People Think She’s a Lesbian,’ and ‘Jenna Lyons’ New (Female!) Love Interest Revealed.’ You get the idea. Today Name It Change It, a project of the Women’s Media Center that calls out sexism in the media, especially toward women in politics, called out HuffPo’s sexism toward Hillary Clinton.

Yesterday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Peruvian Prime Minister Salomon Lerner. Instead of focusing on diplomatic issues between Peru and the United States, the Huffington Post created a poll to gauge how readers are “feeling (about) the Hillary scrunchie.”

I know I shouldn’t be surprised any more. But this one irked me a little more than usual because just minutes before the scrunchie post caught my eye, I was reading about Clinton’s views on the limits of power and its implications for advancing the U.S.’s interests abroad. That’s some heavy stuff! And hair accessories don’t come into the piece at all. It takes time and brain power to analyze Clinton’s beliefs, especially in the broader historical context of the U.S.’s reliance of military might. It’s much easier to focus on an aspect of her appearance and urge readers to vote on it. But that serves to minimize what comes out of her mouth as secondary to what she looks like. This is a message women and girls receive loud and clear everywhere they turn, but I wouldn’t expect to be sent by a popular ‘news’ outlet founded by a woman (Arianna Huffington – voted 12th Most Influential Woman in the Media by Forbes).

The media, as we all do, make choices about what’s important and who’s worth listening to. Huffington Post’s choice to focus on Hillary Clinton’s scrunchie, or Kelly Clarkson’s sexuality, rather than their newsworthy contributions to society, reinforces the notion that women are not to be taken seriously. That women are there for a good laugh, or a sexy picture, not relevant to the business of ‘real’ news, which is exclusively the realm of men. This carries over into our daily lives. Are we subconsciously giving people permission not to listen to what women say when they open their mouths?

Another choice the media makes involves the photo that accompanies their stories. More often than not, especially during the 2008 campaign, the photo that accompanied articles about Clinton where less than flattering, to put it mildly. The pattern continues through her tenure as Secretary of State, as Melissa McEwan of Shakesville highlights here. Clinton was at a press conference talking about the Somalian famine. She was urging the Shebab militants to stop preventing aid from reaching children during Ramadan. And what Getting Images photo was chosen to accompany her statement? The photo is after the jump with McEwan’s spot-on analysis below.

(more…)

Conservatives are peddling misinformation about Michelle Obama’s recent European vacation. They have even taken to comparing her to Marie Antoinette. Ponder that one for a moment. If taken literally, this label would insinuate that the First Lady is promiscuous and sympathizes with our enemies. Are Republicans suggesting that the First Lady has been found guilty of treason and thus will soon be executed by guillotine? Probably not (though Bradley Blakeman does evoke Antoinette’s beheading as he insists “heads will roll”).

I’m inclined to believe that the right does not mean this comparison literally. We must therefore understand their name calling to suggest that Michelle Obama is a member of the tone-deaf elite who cares nothing for the poor. You know, of “let them eat cake” fame. Clearly her career choices have shown her to be the exact opposite. Not that conservatives of late are apt to let facts get in the way of their arguments. A young Michelle Obama left corporate law to work as an assistant to the chief-of-staff to Mayor Daley, and from there helped young people get into public service at Public Allies. Later, she worked her way up at the University of Chicago Hospitals, all the while working closely with the community around her.

If we want to make Marie Antoinette comparisons based in facts, let’s go:

Currently, Republicans are working hard to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, even though it’s clear that this is not the best solution for stimulating the economy and getting jobs to the other 98%. Look at this graph and help me understand how Republicans plan to get elected as they lie through their teeth about caring about lowering the deficit.

Conservatives are piling on the ‘unemployed people are lazy‘ meme. Talk about tone deaf.

Republicans belief in deregulation and corporations-as-king helped get us to a place in history where the only entity with the technology to police BP was BP. They peddled conspiracies that the spill was an inside job, while continuing to stick up for big oil. One member of the GOP even thought BP deserved an apology for the way it was treated during the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history.

And as our country is literally falling apart, Republicans continue the lie that the stimulus hasn’t created any jobs and that the recession is Obama’s fault. Check out this graph and tell me which administration should take the blame for this recession.

If you want to call names like a child on the playground, go right ahead. But when the name you’re calling an opponent can be shown to apply much more readily to you, you might want to be careful that the “takes one to know one” comeback doesn’t stick.

Also, your racism is showing.

Justice Elena Kagan was confirmed today by a 63-37 vote. Women now comprise one-third of the justices on the Supreme Court. If that doesn’t sound all that impressive, consider the fact that Elena Kagan is just the fourth woman justice in the Court’s history, out of 112 total justices. That means just 3.6% of Supreme Court justices in U.S. history have been women.

So when you hear conservatives whining about how President Obama is nominating so many women and minorities to important positions within his administration, consider this: Even if the next 100 Supreme Court justices are women, without a single man thrown in there, the majority of Supreme Court justices in our history would still have been men.

h/t watertiger

Oklahoma, you’re seriously NOT O.K.:

On Nov. 1, a law in Oklahoma will go into effect that will collect personal details about every single abortion performed in the state and post them on a public website. Implementing the measure will cost $281,285 the first year and $256,285 each subsequent year.

Under H.B. 1595, the state of Oklahoma is going to spend over a quarter of a million of its taxpayers’ dollars annually to try to shame women into foregoing abortions. Isn’t that special? It’s almost enough to make one long for the martini-clouded days before Roe v. Wade, when women only had to deal with the life-threatening dangers of back alley abortions, without the additional stigma of government-sponsored Internet shunning.

The following is the posted information that the Gilead Oklahoma legislators believe will be generic enough to avoid that irksome HIPAA:

1. Date of abortion
2. County in which abortion performed
3. Age of mother
4. Marital status of mother
(married, divorced, separated, widowed, or never married)
5. Race of mother
6. Years of education of mother
(specify highest year completed)
7. State or foreign country of residence of mother
8. Total number of previous pregnancies of the mother

That’s a whole lotta information about the mother, that, while it doesn’t identify her by name, certainly narrows her identity down, especially in the small towns that dot the Oklahoma landscape.

And another thing: Notice anything missing? Go ahead, re-read the list — I’ll wait.

[whistles, files nails, looks up]

Figure it out yet? Bingo! The father, whom we assume had something to do with the pregnancy in the first place, doesn’t have to account for his actions at all. Way to put women in their place, Oklahoma!

Thank goodness this law is being challenged.

Former state Representative Wanda Jo Stapleton, D-Oklahoma City, and Shawnee resident Lora Joyce Davis have decided to fight against these new restrictions in the form of a lawsuit. ” The lawsuit alleges that House Bill 1595 by Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, and Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, covers more than one subject and thus violates the Oklahoma Constitution ( Tulsa World News) Ranging in areas from abortions based on gender, to the re-defining of several abortion related terms, to creating an entire new job for the OK Department of Health to deal with, this law, is simply doing too much. The bill is set to go into effect on November 1st of this year. However, Davis and Stapleton hope that their lawsuit can delay this law from going into effect until they are able to present their appeal to the Oklahoma courts. This lawsuit comes after the most recent Oklahoma overturn of a 2008 law that would have required women to submit to an ultrasound and description by their doctor of the baby before scheduling an abortion.

This Mother’s Day, let’s remember the true intentions behind this holiday.

“Arise then…women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with Our own. It says: Disarm! Disarm!” Julia Ward Howe, Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870

In honor of the peaceful sentiment of this day, mothers who have lost children in Iraq and Afghanistan will be holding a 24-hour vigil in front of the White House.

This Mothers Day (May 10), thousands of mothers will mark this occasion with tremendous loss mothers whose children have been killed or wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Mothers from all over the country will gather in front of the White House for a 24-hour-vigil to honor the war dead and demand an end to the wars.

What can you do? Send a Mothers Day rose to Washington, D.C., and let the mothers of the fallen and wounded soldiers know that you stand with them against war. Roses will be presented to the mothers and tied to the fence outside the White House as a memorial to the dead and a call for peace.

For just $3, thanks to CREDO, you can join the anti-war efforts by sending a rose. Wage peace!

It turns my stomach to think that I have had to work  nearly four months this year to equal my husband’s wages from last year. We have the same education and qualifications, but our work is not valued the same.

Why April 28? The typical woman worker had to toil all of 2008 and through April 28, 2009 to earn the equivalent of her male counterpart’s earnings in 2008 alone. (Center for American Progress)

Check out several great posts from the National Women’s Law Center’s Blog for Fair Pay Day 2009 here.  For a great Equal Pay primer, check out “Why Arent’ We There Yet?

As RobinNWLC points out, women often have no way of knowing if we are being paid fairly. That’s why we need the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Act would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the EPA and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. The bill also allows women to receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those subject to discrimination based on race and national origin. (NWLC)

Click here to urge your senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act!

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responds passionately and eloquently to Rep. Smith’s concern that the Obama administration supports women’s reproductive freedom abroad. Michelle Goldberg calls it thrillingly unequivocal. You can read a transcript of the exchange here, via Shakesville.

On a side note, why is Hillary Clinton referred to as “the gentleman” on several occasions?

Now that’s equality!

Just a taste…

Michelle Obama’s European Outfits: Which did she wear best?

Michelle Obama Makes a Fashion Statement in London

Michelle Obama: Fashion icon?

Michelle Obama: Fashion diva or disaster?

There was also the contrived media drama over Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s “fashion faceoff,” about which Melissa McEwan noted:

Why is it, when any two powerful womenespecially beautiful powerful womenare in the same place at the same time, the media has to treat it like a grudge match?!

Not surprisingly, there was little mention of the male G-20 spouses’ fashion choices. They didn’t even bother to show up for the G-20 spouses dinner (or at least, they missed the photo). I mean, who could blame them?

Courtney Martin, of the Women’s Media Center and Feministing, took on Bill O’Reilly yesterday. In his segment, he defended his comments against journalist Helen Thomas, but quickly got off topic. O’Reilly accused women’s groups of staying silent on the issue of sexism against Sarah Palin, arguing they were hypocrites for only recognizing sexism against women whose politics they agree with.

Now, if Mr. O’Reilly had taken just 10 seconds to google his guest Courtney Martin, he would have found that not only has she spoken out against the sexism Sarah Palin faced, she even called out Bill-O himself for sexist comments regarding Ms. Palin.

Shakesville has a list of over 25 examples of Sarah Palin sexism. The Women’s Media Center also ran pieces covering sexism against Sarah Palin, including this one from Campbell Brown on CNN.

O’Reilly says that if Martin in fact did speak out against the sexism that Sarah Palin faced, he would apologize. We won’t hold our feminist breath. But seriously, do some research on your guests. What you’re doing is not journalism.

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.