The Senate got XXier, and that's not even all of them!
is sort of a nice problem to have:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) spoke about a historic moment earlier in the day.
"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."
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?
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 shift was so stark that the Obama campaign was able to make feminist issues a part of its electoral strategy.
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.
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.