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In my experience, women are tougher than men and braver, too. I'm not talking about brute strength, which is really only a short term phenomenon. I'm talking about over the long haul. Most men really couldn't bear the burdens that many, if not most, women bear day after day, year after year. Many women raise a family, work and give their husband the moral support that he needs to go on, all with out having someone to support them in a similar fashion. Yes, granted, the husband does contribute, some more than others, that is, if he stays around. In cases where he doesn't, that just adds to the woman's already significant burden, but I don't believe that a bad marriage is a good idea either. The point I'm trying to make is that women are tough, so it would seem that they would be more of a force for social change.

However, I do realize that women are not a unified block. There are all kinds of women. There are the women who feel that they should only be a man's “helpmeet.” There are radical feminists and women who seem more like men, and all the women who fall in between. In spite of this diversity, it would seem that women would want to represent themselves in the public and private spheres of government and business.

In the case of business, I can see the difficulty posed by the bastion of male gatekeepers, but in the sphere of government, the gatekeepers are the voters, the majority of whom are women. So why haven't woman stepped up and done something about the unequal representation that they have within our government. As it is now, most of the women who work in government and business are more the women-who-are-more-like-men type, but if more women are represented, then a broader variety of social types would be in government to address their particular concerns and the concerns that many women share. If more women are elected to government, then they have a better chance of addressing the issues that impede them in the private sector.

So why haven't women stepped up? I once asked the women in a classroom discussion how many of them were feminists, and none of them felt they were feminists. I then asked them what they were doing in college then. Shouldn't they all be home barefoot and pregnant. This got some of their danders up because they felt like they had the right to a career, but they didn't seem to see my larger point that because of feminism, they were allowed to pursue a career. Many young women don't seem to realize that they are the beneficiaries of the women who have fought over at least the last 150 years for equal rights. They seem to think that these rights have been built in for them, in spite of all of the indications to the contrary. When I asked why there weren't more women in political office, the young women didn't really seem interested, but an older woman in the class said that she thought that if we had a female president that other countries would see the United States as weak. I never expected a woman to say something like this, but even though I had seen Phyllis Schlafly say similar things on television, I didn't think that "real" women shared such views. It also made me realize that if there were more women in government, we would get this type as well, but I think that even Shalafly would support some areas where women have common interests, and of course then again, maybe not.

It has been over 90 years since women have won the right to vote, so why haven't women made more political progress. To be fair, as I stated in the beginning, many women have and will continue to have too much on their plates, but this applies mainly to women who are raising a family. However, there are women who have already raised their families who can get more involved. There are single women who can get more involved, and probably other categories of women that I'm leaving out because of a lack of imagination. Yes! Many women are already involved and do significantly more than I've ever done and will probably ever do, but the number of involved women has yet—and I will stress again-- after ninety years to reach a critical mass. The least that women can do is vote for female candidates. I realize that gender should not be the sole reason for voting for a candidate, but it should not be the sole reason for voting against a candidate either.

Now it may not make any difference to have a government that proportionally represents the electorate, but we won't know until that happens. I might also add that women are not the only ones suffering from this inertia. Progressives are in a similar boat. I realize that putting this type of diary in a political forum is in effect preaching to the choir, but I'm really interested in what women think about this.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am curious (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrybuck, atana, Sonnet, Ahianne

    you referenced a couple of times "women-who-are-more-like-men" so wondering what that looks like to you and perceiving it as being vaguely patronizing.

    Why do you get to decide  if I or any other woman is "more like a man"? I like hockey, am I more like a man? I  like to wear skirts  and get my nails done is that a check mark for the woman side? Is there a super secret list?

    •  It's Probably Not Much of a Secret. (0+ / 0-)

      Less to do with exteriors and more to do with styles of interaction.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 08:32:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I read the idea in review of a book (0+ / 0-)

      by Alison Wolf. She used the apparently less offensive term "Alpha Women," but I couldn't remember the term or the author. I had to look it up, but the idea presented, as I recall, was that the women had male traits that lead to their political and business success that other women didn't share. That didn't exclude their femininity. I used the term as a generalization for the sake of discussion, and like most generalizations it is partly true and partly false.

  •  Hmmmm (6+ / 0-)

    I find parts of this diary, particularly in the first paragraph, to be pretty sexist.

    Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

    by Pi Li on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 08:24:17 AM PDT

    •  I thought the diarist wanted to hear (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allergywoman, Mortifyd, atana

      from "women" although I am now confused because there is apparently this population of "non women" who act like men running around. I was a little worried because I thought all this time I was a woman so it was shocking to find out I might not be, or not woman enough.

    •  You may be right, but that doesn't really (0+ / 0-)

      address the issue, though you seem to think that it does.

      •  Well if there are (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        crose

        alpha men and men or are not alpha does that mean there are men who are more like women?  Does the opposite apply?If alpha defines male where does that leave everybody else who does not act accordingly?

        •  I'm not really interested in gender so much as (0+ / 0-)

          why there are not more women representing us. As far as the male/female divide goes, I think that at base, we are all female. Males have a "Y" chromosome, which is really just a modified "X" chromosome that turns the reproductive equipment inside out and changes a few hormone levels at various stages of development.

          In the larger picture, I see that women have the numbers to elect more women, so statistically what is happening does not make sense to me. I'm just curious to know what people think is going on?

  •  Because politics is about power and thems (0+ / 0-)

    that have it don't have to claim it.

    No doubt it is frustrating to the power mavens that some people just refuse to contest. That's what likely accounts for the frontal assaults and legislative threats. It's not going to work. Informed consent won't justify abuse.

  •  Your diary is lacking a lot of history (7+ / 0-)

    Not to mention lacking in intersectionality. Women technically got the right to vote over 90 years ago, but that excluded many black and poor women. Also, though many women did get the right to vote, what good was that since most women couldn't even open up a bank account without a man? Most women did not gain protection from sexist bullshit that said that we couldn't handle our own credit cards and mortgages until 1974.

    As for why so many young women do not wish to call themselves feminists, well, that is complicated and could have many answers. For one, during the 1980s there was a massive backlash against the new financial and political gains women got, and one of the biggest things that personally effected me was the way the word "feminism" was changed into a slur. We saw the rise of the term "feminazi," which had the result of turning a lot of women off, especially young white conservative women.

    At the same time, there was a racial schism in the feminist movement, and many women of color (though definitely not all) turned away from the idea of feminism for a while because they felt it referred to only rights for white women.

    In short, though you accuse young women of refusing the mantle of feminism, it appears that you haven't really paid attention to the movement yourself.

    Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

    by moviemeister76 on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 09:21:49 AM PDT

    •  You are right, I haven't studied the movement. (0+ / 0-)

      It is just that that discussion has lingered with me for about ten years now, and women's issues have come to the fore again, and it has made me wonder. I figured that people at DKos would have a better understanding than me, and I was thinking about it, so I thought I would ask.

      It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that women have been fighting the battle more in the private sector than in politics, and it came to me while writing the diary that the political arena might bear more fruit, but with the way Congress has been working, probably not, at least not currently.

      It also got me to thinking about how many women are in my local government and with the exception of the school board, I couldn't think of any. Even on the local level, men predominate.

      •  It's old, but there's a book called "Backlash" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        crose

        by Susan Faludi [www.amazon.com/Backlash-Undeclared-Against-American-Women/dp/0307345424/ (Amazon)] that's still relevant.

        Lots others, too. If you were to look at (online) college syllabi for women's studies courses, you might find other books worth reading (some of them might even be available online, free).

        Also, google up the terms "Intersectionality" and "Kyriarchy"  and keep reading until you understand what the people using those words mean by them.

        Lots of feminist blogs around, and feminism 101's ("Womanism" is also worth googling up). A general suggestion, though: except in online spaces where it's invited, get used to reading things without asking questions about things which the author/usual readership take for granted. You might get answers, but you might also get taken to task for not doing your homework and asking everyone else to stop what they're doing and pay attention to you. No insult meant, it's just something that shows up a lot in feminist online spaces.

        In general, google is your friend. Other people might have more good search terms for you.

  •  Very simply, women went from being outsiders (7+ / 0-)

    to being junior partners. First and second wave feminism were about breaking down the barriers to inclusion in the public world outside the home -- the world that previously had been exclusively male. Those who break down barriers are not inclined to be sensitive to the feelings of the guys manning those barriers.

    But today, women are junior partners in that (still male-dominated) public world. In nearly all areas, men run the top echelons, and women must gain their approval in order to have successful careers. You don't gain the approval of men by being a second-wave feminist.

    Men, in short, still have the economic upper hand over women, and this has made overt feminism too dangerous for most women, who now have something to lose -- unlike their second wave mothers, who had very little to lose.

    •  And even if a woman runs for office (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      atana, Leftleaner, TiaRachel, Odysseus

      call yourself a feminist and watch the heads explode, in fact my suspicion is that many women who do try to dodge the question. Now, I am not assuming all women consider themselves feminists even the mysterious Alpha or "women who act like men " species the diarist refers to. I am not even assuming being a feminist is something women are obligated to do or declare. That is not for me to decide.

  •  Well to address a practical concern (6+ / 0-)

    many women are never finished with raising their families, the kids grow up and there are grandchildren and elderly parents who need assistance. Also news flash single women also have families and often have care obligations.

    So telling single women and women who are mythically finished raising their families that they should be running for political office is rather tone deaf. And there are other effective ways to influence social change and political direction/legislation/policy making that are significant without actually running for office.

    I would guess many humans in general don't want to run for office because it requires vast financial reserves that very few can access, and means being subject to scrutiny that most would rather side step.

  •  Women should try to fill the local offices (4+ / 0-)

    City Council, School Board, Library Supervisor, etc.  The work is right in your neighborhood and it requires a part time, mostly flexible commitment (excluding the meetings).

    These are not expensive races.  People DO want to vote for women.  In my town there are 6 people running for City Council this November.  I'm the only woman.  There are 3 men running for mayor.

    If you have no idea how to get started contact your local Democratic party, or look into training organizations like Progressive Majority or the Wellstone Institute.

    Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. John Lennon

    by GwenM on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 09:50:24 AM PDT

    •  Sexism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Themistoclea
      People DO want to vote for women.
      Are you sure? I think there is a lot of sexism. Forget amongst right wingers, I think there is a lot of sexism even in dems.

      For e.g.
      1. During the 2008 primaries, a DKos front pager called Hillary a MILF (google for MILF if you don't know what it means)
      2. There were 'Bros before Hos' souvenirs sold during the 2007 primaries.
      3. There were Nutcrackers sold which had Hillary's face.
      4. http://www.vanityfair.com/... - the guy in the photo was Obama's speech writer.

      •  Whenever gender comes into the discussion, sexism (0+ / 0-)

        follows. The sexism that you describe is demeaning. Overt sexism sets up a hostile environment, but at least it can be confronted. It is the hidden and embedded sexism which is more difficult to get at.

      •  I have been told, unsolicited, by voters, (0+ / 0-)

        that they will vote for me BECAUSE I'm a woman. Many of them are boomers.

        That being said, I hope they vote for me because they like my ideas and my platform.

        After knocking on lots of doors last summer I got a real sense that people don't like the way women are being treated and are really PO'd by the right wing attacks on women's rights.

        My broader point is that we focus too much on the higher offices - Congress, Senate, even the State Legislatures.  The farm team for the Democrats is weak (at least where I live), and it's in the local offices that women can learn the ropes and build a network.  

        There should never be an uncontested seat, even if the chance of winning is slim.  The conversation that happens because there is a race, and not just a shoe-in, keeps our point of view in play.

        Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. John Lennon

        by GwenM on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 02:30:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Miriam A Ferguson and Ann Richards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    undercovercalico

    These are the two women who have been Governors of Texas, which is generally thought of as a man's state. Wendy Davis may be the third. Ferguson took the place of her husband back in the late 1920's.
    The first woman that Texas sent to Congress was Rep. Lera Thomas of Houston, widow of Rep. Albert Thomas. She did not run for a full term and was succeeded by Rep. Bob Eckhardt. Then came Barbara Jordan, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Sheila Jackson Lee. Today Texas also has Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth).
    Houston (my city) has Kathy Whitmire and Annise Parker as Mayors. Eleanor Tinsley may have been the first woman elected to the City Council, in 1979.
    When I was growing up in the 1950's women were often elected to school boards.
    So Texas has elected women to office but not exactly 50 %.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 10:20:06 AM PDT

  •  One of the huge, major barriers to women (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LNK, TiaRachel, crose

    running for election was never touched on in the diary: Men running for office will be scrutinized, insulted, poked, prodded and otherwise bothered half to death when they put themselves out there.

    (Note this comment is purely all my opinion. It doesn't represent all women.)

    But nothing compares to the trial by fire that women go through when they run for office--and it gets even worse if they succeed. And it never ends, for them. (A woman who looks like Chris Christie or Mitch McConnell would never have gotten elected to anything.)

    Hillary was shredded. She was shredded for being a political animal and for not being a "real" politician herself. She was shredded for being cold and shredded for crying. Hundreds of sick jokes and social media memes treated her in a way that no male politicians are treated--rape threats were common. (Some comparison can be made with Obama, who is Presiding While Black. Thanks to a Facebook commenter for that great term.)

    And Hillary's just one woman. Women have seen over and over what has happened to women running for office, or in office. If they've ever committed a sin, ever, or just done something normal that people don't like to think women do(!), their political career is over. I don't know anybody who doesn't have some sort of stupid mistake in their past; why would I run for office and have it paraded in front of the country for the purposes of being brutally judged and ultimately defeated? Men can pull unbelievable stunts and bounce back. There's no bounce for women at all. We are not forgiven.

    The diarist did, I think touch on finances, which is another major barrier. You have to rely on a personal fortune or on donations from supporters; it costs a huge amount to get elected to higher offices.

    The vast majority of women don't have access to the money or the networks to ever have a hope of running successfully for a major office. And if they have no chance, women will generally not want to waste other people's money.

    Finally, the diarist also touched on the time/family element. These responsibilities are heavy and time-consuming and last years, if not a lifetime. If I had a wife, I would not be where I am today, and a lot of other women wouldn't either. Birth control has helped us plan our families, and I'm enormously grateful for that. But it hasn't changed the general dynamic that unpaid caring work is done by women. Without the support that a wife provides, it's almost impossible to do something as time-consuming as running for political office. Very few husbands provide that level of career and home logistical support for their wives.

    It doesn't seem like that's well understood by people who ask why women don't run. Why don't we just run a marathon every weekend? Why don't we climb Mount Everest, since it's really not that hard, right? The fact that some women have been able to run and succeed in politics only underlines how amazing women are, and the fact that some have access to supports and networks and money that the rank and file of women don't.

    There was a suggestion that women run for local offices. They do this already. But the diary seemed to be more about why there weren't more women in state and national politics. I'd suggest that folks with this question bear and raise a couple of children, clean the house, go to work every day, keep track of the family social and medical schedule and all the other details, take care of the in-laws, give emotional support to their spouse, and then report back in 20 years how ready they are to jump into major political office, while not knowing anybody or having any money. This will open some eyes, I think.

    This comment reads more sardonic than it is in my head. But yeah, there's some sardonic in it.

    I wish there were more women in politics. I've thought about it myself. There's the whole "can't afford a nanny for my three young children and I don't want to leave them to raise themselves" problem and the "I don't know anyone in politics" challenge and the "I'm terrible at fundraising and schmoozing--terrible" thing and the "husband is a workaholic and the kids would be deserted if I went off too" dilemma. I don't think I'm unusual in this thinking.

    But let's not end with all pessimism. Some women have succeeded despite the greater barriers they've faced. I think more will succeed with time. With any luck I'll play some part in that. I just wanted the diarist to understand how much higher the barriers really are for a woman running for office than for a man.

    We're not a minority in politics because we're not interested or not capable. We're a minority because of the structural barriers I've mentioned and because being a politician seems to require a massive ego, a disconnect with humanity and a sociopathic self-absorption. Some have gotten elected without these qualities, but the process tends to filter those people out. I'm no angel (anyone who knows me will quickly tell you that), but I'm not that way and I'm not interested in becoming that way to get a political office.

    I'm amazed by people's courage and kindness in the face of everything and life.

    by LaraJones on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 12:10:28 PM PDT

    •  Thank you! That was eye opening. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LaraJones

      I guess that I had reduced it to a numbers game, but even there I am probably in error. Not all women will vote for a female candidate, and most men probably wouldn't.

      I would like to see more women in office too, but you are right, our political system is demanding and corrosive, and it is hypocritical of me to ask women to do something that I am not willing to do myself.

      I just got the idea in my head that more was possible and so I had to ask. I have actually been encouraged that so many more women are in office. Thank you for putting into perspective why progress has been so slow.

    •  I still think we can't win if we don't try. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      crose

      Local office is a place where you don't need big money, and women can fit it into their lives better.  If they want to move up to higher level races at some point, they have credibility, knowledge, and name recognition.  Some seats, like County Commissioner, often come will a decent part-time salary.

      We call them races, but I think running for office should be looked at more as a journey. Anyone who thinks they might be able to do it should try.

      I get frustrated when I see unopposed candidates from the other side.  Why won't someone step up?  Sometimes it's not about winning, it's about representing our values.  We can't flip seats from R to D if we don't get some of those former Republicans to vote for us.

      Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. John Lennon

      by GwenM on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 02:40:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Too busy pulling glass shards out of neck (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, LaraJones, crose

    face and fists from breaking through previous glass ceilings.

    Also, horrific media situation.....so hard to be taken seriously.

    In Europe they have established quotas for parity of the sexes in government and business, plus they aren't so condescending, dismissive, or sexist about women workers and leaders.

    They also have better healthcare, childcare, affordable housing, public transportation, and affordable higher education, etc. which makes it all the more possible for their women to participate in the public sphere if they don't have a stay-at-home spouse or huge bank account.

    I know several women who are staying in high paying jobs that they absolutely hate, just to save up to pay for kids' college tuition here in USA.

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