Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) spoke about a historic moment earlier in the day.Yes, it'll be an even better day when it's the menfolk senators who have to wait in line to use the two-stall bathroom. There's always the House option, too. Remember Speaker John Boehner's "potty parity" plan in 2011?
"For the first time, there was a traffic jam in the Senate women’s bathroom," she said. "There were five of us in there, and there are only two stalls."
Even the new Speaker of the House, not generally considered a friend to women, is working for women's equality in the House -- by building a new women's bathroom in a gesture of "respect for female members of the House.”
Of course, Boehner's "potty parity" is actually a self-serving land grab to appropriate prime real estate in the Capitol that includes "an extra hallway, storage area and kitchen as well as the spacious balcony." But that hasn't stopped Boehner and his fellow Republicans from claiming that they are promoting women's equality.
By the way, how'd that plan work out for you, Boehner? Did that bathroom idea help Republicans shore up the lady vote this time around? I keep forgetting.
Twenty women in the Senate is a nice number, but it's not enough. Until our representation in government starts to approximate our numbers—we are 51 percent of the population, and not even 20 percent of Congress—we're still fighting an uphill battle against the Republicans' War on Women and, let's face it, some of the not-so-friendly-to-women men in our own party.
Still, as Jessica Valenti wrote at The Nation:
Something strange is happening to feminists. We’re winning. The election gave us the re-election of a feminist-friendly president, a record number of women in Congress, the first openly gay US senator and wins for marriage equality in four states. There’s energy and interest on feminist issues the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades.
This shift comes to us courtesy of the perfect storm of sexist Republican missteps, a vibrant online feminist movement and a nation of women unwilling to move backward. But with the election dust settling, we should examine why we’re winning the culture wars and think about what to do next.
Valenti mentions some of the most notable examples of women fighting back in the past year—against Susan G. Komen for the Cure cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood; Rush Limbaugh's "slut" tirade against Sandra Fluke; the transvaginal ultrasound bill in Virginia—but this is the take-home message:
Perhaps more interesting than the wins themselves, though, was the widespread media attention and cultural acceptance of feminist outrage. All of a sudden, women’s anger at the attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood or a male politician’s comment about rape wasn’t the mark of bitter “man haters”; it was an understandable reaction from smart, engaged women.The outrage from women—and men—across the country in response to the numerous and blatant assaults on women's rights was justified and righteous and was, in fact, so powerful and effective that standing up with and for women was part of the strategy that re-elected the president. And that's a hell of a thing.
The shift was so stark that the Obama campaign was able to make feminist issues a part of its electoral strategy.
This year, we had a national conversation about the importance of accessible and affordable birth control as part of basic health care for women. We had a big, ugly fight. We fought against the Republican Party, against the conservative talkers on the airwaves, against the Catholic Church. And we won. We must apply that same vigilance and enthusiasm and force to the many others battles Republicans have waged against us: equal pay for equal work, for example, and the renewal and funding of the Violence Against Women Act, and all the assistance programs Paul Ryan is so eager to cut that will harm women and their children, just to give more handouts to the wealthiest one percent.
In other words, there is much more to be done, as Valenti (and many others, of course) have said. We must continue to expand our representation. We must ensure that the momentum of our righteous outrage includes all women and women's voices, and while our symbolic victories are important, there are real laws that need to be passed and real programs that need to be funded that can make a very real difference in the lives of millions of women and their children.
And we must use our numbers, the numbers that came through for the blue team, as our mandate. We are not a special interest; we are the majority of the country and the party, and we have a mandate for a pro-woman agenda. That's something we need to say loud and clear, every day, to our own party. And there are a number of ideas for how our party and our president can return the favor.
We're already off to a great start, with our historical numbers in Washington, the re-election of our feminist-friendly president, and a fire ignited in this country to show that we are here, we are pissed (and we can be awful funny about it), we are fighting back, we've got the majority on our side—and we will win.
This week's good, bad and ugly below the fold.
- Remember "pro-life" "family values" teabagger Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee? He's the one who, back when he was a doctor, cheated on his wife with a patient, knocked her up, and tried to coerce her into having an abortion because every sperm is sacred—unless that sperm is totally going to get you in trouble with your wife.
Well, guess what. He's an even more twisted little abortion-loving monkey than we knew:
A decade before calling himself “a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman’s sworn testimony during his divorce trial.And yes, folks, I did read the several hundreds of pages of the court proceedings so you don't have to, and it is as sickening as you can possibly imagine and then some. (Example: Hey, judge, please stop making me pay so much in child support. I can't afford it because I'm buying expensive jewelry for my mistresses!) So while DesJarlais won re-election this year, we have a job to do: making sure it's the very last time that happens.
Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple’s 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show.
- Can I get an amen for Nancy fucking Pelosi, ladies and gentlemen?
Just six months ago, a Gallup poll found that the number of people who call themselves "pro-choice" was only 41%, a record low. [...]
Not that it's a competition (JK, it is), but more recent polls show that the Personhood brigade was counting its embryos before they hatched: the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of "Likely U.S. Voters" shows that 54% describe themselves as pro-choice on the issue of abortion, while 38% say they are pro-life. [...]
Another CNN poll found that the number of people who think abortion should be legal under any circumstances jumped from around 25% — where it had been stuck, more or less, since 2006 — to a whopping 35% at the end of August 2012. [...] Just weeks later, other polls showed that more people supported the idea that abortion should be "generally available" than they had in over 15 years.
As it turns out, when people are forced to think a little harder about the meaning of "pro-life" — thanks to politicians like Akin and Richard "God luvs rape!" Mourdock, among many, many others — most don't actually identify with the pro-life platform. How odd!
- Republicans still don't think protecting all women from violence is a priority.
- When choosing a business school, is the hot babe factor really what matters?
We expect certain websites to run listicles ranking hot coeds, sure. But Bloomberg Businessweek? Yep: the magazine's website recently asked readers to vote on which business school had the most attractive female students, apropos of nothing other than a general appreciation for babes.
- Because blocking a nutrition program for poor women and children is so pro-lifey:
Planned Parenthood asked a federal judge on Tuesday to stop Oklahoma from blocking it from participating in a federally funded nutrition program that helps poor women and children at three clinics in the Tulsa area.
The request, filed in federal court in Oklahoma City, appeared aimed at combating a move similar to those taken by conservative Republicans in more than a dozen states over the past two years to eliminate funding for health services provided by Planned Parenthood.
- Remember Rep. Roger Rivard of Wisconsin, who told the riveting story passed along to him by his father of how some girls, they rape so easy? Yeah, well, he may have lost his job in this election, but he'll always have friends in the Republican Party:
A month after the political organization for Assembly Republicans said it would not financially back Rep. Roger Rivard because of his controversial comments on rape, the Assembly majority leader said Tuesday that Rivard will “always be welcome in this caucus.”
The comments by Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) came as Assembly Republicans bid Rivard, a Rice Lake Republican, and other losing incumbents goodbye in the state Capitol.
“I cannot say enough about the person you are,” Suder told Rivard. “I’m proud to call you a dear, dear friend. … You are always welcome in this caucus.”
- You knew this already, but it never gets old:
Nearly a quarter of the voters in Tuesday's election were unmarried women – and Obama captured more than two-thirds of their votes, 67%, according to research released on Thursday by the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund.
"Unmarried women were the drivers of the president's victory," said Page Gardner, the president of WVWVAF.
- The United Nations declares birth control a universal right:
Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women’s increased labor-force participation boosts nations’ economies.
- Your bonus feel-good video of the week: