Archive for women in politics
Politico has a long feature out today on the scarcity of women on Sunday talk shows.
According to research by American University’s Women & Politics Institute, female lawmakers have composed 13.5 percent of the total Sunday show appearances by all representatives and senators this year.
The suggestion that the Sunday shows are less hospitable to women has prompted a debate over who’s to blame among network producers, Capitol Hill political operatives and women’s advocates.
Some academic researchers and press secretaries for women in Congress say the network bookers have a men-in-suits mind-set that leads to familiar faces appearing over and over — and vital women’s voices being muffled on Sunday shows that historically are an important platform of Washington power.
The shows’ producers bridle at the criticism, saying that, despite their strong interest in booking more women, the shows must be topical and reflect the reality that men still hold more of the most influential and newsmaking positions in Congress.
To which I have to say: yeah! But this isn’t really new. This has been a problem a lot of people have been complaining about for years. I’ve written about it dozens of times. So have many other women. Media Matters did a study on it in 2007. So, I don’t think it’s particularly groundbreaking news to us; however, I know of many white dudes in Washington who are completely oblivious to this. And those are the dudes that read Politico. So at least, it’s encouraging to see a very mainstream, well-read publication like Politico devoting a full-length feature to this topic.
I first met Krystal Ball in August at the progressive bloggers conference Netroots Nation. She walked into the room during our Youth Caucus and quietly sat down while people were making introductions. When it got to her turn, she announced that she was not here as a blogger: She was running for Congress in the First District of Virginia. And she’s just 27 years old.
Heads turned instantly. A 27-year-old running for Congress? And a woman? There has never been a woman under 30 in Congress. And that name!
I had the chance to catch up with Krystal recently and chat about her campaign and life in general. Aside from running for Congress, she’s married and has a baby daughter. It’s incredibly inspiring to see her take the political world head-on — especially when you consider how few women run for office (and even fewer young women run).
I’ve been working for the past few weeks with a great team that includes my friends Leslie Bradshaw and Erica Anderson, working on digital PR and online media efforts for this exciting book which takes a look at how the media covered Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama, and the roles of women in politics, media, and business today. And as anyone who knows me, or has read this blog, can tell you, this is a topic that I’m very passionate about.
When you look back at the 2008 election, there’s no denying that Hillary, Sarah, and Michelle all faced the tremendous barrier of sexism from the media and the American public during the 2008 election. Despite the fact that women are now told they can do anything they want, it seems that after the 2008 election, America is still afraid of powerful women.
A snippet of what the book is about:
“Leslie Sanchez is taking the assumptions and myths about women in politics and turning them on their heads. YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, MAYBE (Palgrave Macmillan; October 2009) tackles hard-hitting questions like: Can women handle the stress and confrontation of life in the political limelight? Why are women judged in terms of factors like fashion and approachability? How did the media manage to boil down three complex women into the ditz, the bitch, and the darling of Election ’08? D.C.-based Leslie Sanchez lives in the hotbed of high level politics, and can answer these questions with unparalleled authority, experience, sass, and candor.”
Leslie Sanchez is a prominent Republican strategist and pundit. I’m not a Republican, but am helping to promote her book because I believe in its message so deeply: the message that women have come so far, yet still have so far to go; and that more women need to take more prominent roles in America’s political leadership in order for things to change. That message is true no matter what side of the aisle you’re on or what party you belong to — and I fully believe that fighting for gender equality in American politics and media is something whose importance transcends polarizing, partisan politics.
So that’s why, although I’m not a Republican, I’m proud to support this book. And I think Leslie Sanchez may be just what the Republican Party needs more of in order to cast off its tired reputation as the party of old white men.
If you’re interested in learning more about the book or our efforts, we’re all over social media:
- http://www.twitter.com/LongWayMaybe (use the hashtag #LWM when asking “have we made progress?” on your tweets about women in biz, media, politics, etc.)
- http://www.youtube.com/user/LongWayMaybe (content forthcoming via journalist / video production rockstar Erica Anderson, aka @EricaAmerica)
- http://www.slideshare.net/LongWayMaybe (content forthcoming)
- http://bit.ly/LongWayMaybe (official Amazon page where you can purchase the book)
Sarah Palin is not governor of Alaska anymore, she’s not a VP candidate anymore, no one even knows WHAT she is really doing these days and yet the woman. is. everywhere.
She supposedly resigned to get out of the limelight and get her life together, yet she’s continuing to push her healthcare agenda to anyone who will listen, through a variety of channels.
Tonight she penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Her Twitter account has been inactive since she resigned, but that’s okay — she’s all about Facebook now. She responds to major stories via Facebook notes. Like this one, penned in response to the controversy over the Associated Press releasing the photo of the dying Marine.
Really, it’s kind of fascinating to see how she is using Facebook notes as a primary communication channel. Who needs a blog when you can do that? Really, who even needs to place op-eds in the WSJ when you can write a Facebook note that will be read by roughly 860,000 fans?
She, like everyone else, can publish her thoughts instantly through a blog or Facebook note. But because she is Sarah Palin, she has rare and coveted access to the Wall Street Journal to publish her ideas there if she so desires — but does she really need it? Why wait for a paper to publish her thoughts when she can do it herself on Facebook, instantly, and with full control over her message?
What’s really telling is that she published the WSJ op-ed, but simultaneously copied and pasted the text of it into a Facebook note and re-posted it on Facebook.
So what does that say about the dwindling significance of the Wall Street Journal?
One of my favorite things to do on Sunday mornings is make coffee and plop in front of the TV for the Sunday show lineup: Meet The Press, This Week, Face the Nation, maybe even Fox News if I was feeling brave. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid, since my dad always had the Sunday shows on when I was little.
But lately I can’t help but notice how disappointing some of our Sunday show programming has become. A study from Media Matters for America shows that on average, Sunday show guests are 80% male. The study was done in 2007, but really: how much has changed since then?
Yesterday, of the five major Sunday morning shows (Chris Matthews, Fox News Sunday, This Week, Face the Nation, and Meet the Press), there were a total of twenty-three guests.
Out of those twenty-three guests, how many were women?
So women still made up about 17% of yesterday’s guests on Sunday talk shows. (Also, coincidentally, women make up 17% of Congress….that’s for another post some day).
The more startling thing is that many of yesterday’s Sunday show panels were talking about the current hot topic around the nation: healthcare. Healthcare is an extremely important women’s issue — so why are there so few women being included in the conversation? Not that it is any less important to include women in conversations on, say, foreign policy and war, but with healthcare in particular there really is absolutely no excuse to leave women out of the conversation when you consider how much importance this issue has to women around the country, and how high the stakes are.
17% is abysmal. And it shows that almost nothing has changed since 2005, when the Media Matters study was conducted. The networks are still airing the same types of guests — and when they do seek out diversity, they have the same “token” women or token people of color (Juan Williams, for example, accounted for 99 of the 126 Sunday show appearances by an African-American in the Media Matters study).
So the question now is: what will it take to see real change out the networks, who have been doing the same thing for years?
It’s late Friday afternoon, so I’ll keep this one short. But I wanted to call attention to an issue that may not get a lot of mainstream media attention, but is extremely important.
This afternoon, in a spoof video that’s part of a Washington Post series called “Mouthpiece Theater,” Dana Milbank , journalist for the Washington Post, suggested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, if she were to attend the Beer Summit, should drink “Mad Bitch” beer.
The full video is here (the comment in question is at about 2:35)
It’s totally in appropriate for journalists at the Washington Post to be calling the Secretary of State of the US a “mad bitch” simply because she’s a woman, and is another example of how sexism still exists in Washington.
Hillary Clinton is still one of the highest ranking officials in the American government and should be treated with a little more respect and class. And it’s disappointing that the Washington Post, a large, respected newspaper, would support these kinds of comments from their reporters. I hope the Washington Post and Dana Milbank comment on it soon.
If you’re on Twitter: please Tweet about it!
@Milbank What were you thinking? http://bit.ly/TpcVK Bad pundit theater! #wapofail #punditfail #sexistmuch #p2 #fem2
Update: Post apologized, video was pulled.
President Obama announced his appointment of Sonia Sotomayor for the ninth seat on the Supreme Court bench yesterday morning, setting the interwebs and the cable news pundits on fire with something big to talk about all day.
Stuart Taylor at the National Journal is right in pointing out that this nomination is extremely shrewd because it puts the Republican Party in a tight spot. If they criticize Sotomayor for the things they most want to attack her for, they risk further branding themselves as the party of old white men. If they don’t attack her aggressively, they risk giving a victory to Obama and further weakening the party.
After Obama’s announcement, what followed was almost boringly predictable: all the news today has been dominated by talk about her race and gender. And though she was only nominated about 12 hours ago, her nomination has already brought race to the forefront of the public discourse — a topic we all normally like to avoid for the sake of our own comfort levels. Better to pretend race doesn’t exist, right? Right. Except now, it suddenly exists, more than ever. The fact that she grew up in the Bronx projects but graduated summa cum laude from Princeton and Yale Law School doesn’t exist, but the fact that she’s a Latina woman definitely does exist.
–Glenn Beck says Sotomayor is a racist! (Does anyone else besides me see the irony in the fact that a panel of three white men are discussing whether Sotomayor is racist towards white men?)
–Senator James Inhofe thinks Sotomayor might allow ‘undue influence because of her own personal race and gender‘! (Oh my god, you’re right, because she’s a LATINA WOMAN and her opinions might be different from those of WHITE MEN, she’s automatically a bad judge)
–Mike Huckabee calls her Maria Sotomayor. Well, you know, all those brown people have such similar names.
–The conservative Judicial Confirmation Network whines that “in Sotomayor’s court, the content of your character is not as important as the colour of your skin.” That’s not a hypocritical statement to make about a minority judge at ALL…
The underlying assertion in all these subtle, or not so subtle, criticisms Sotomayor is that her race and gender make her less qualified to be a Supreme Court justice, because her race and gender might affect her decisions. Thus, following that logic, we should only pick jurists who don’t have any race or gender to cloud their decisions.
You mean to tell me white men are raceless and genderless and completely neutral? Why didn’t someone tell me that before?!
Feminism, that is. I get a lot of flack from people about being a feminist. Sometimes from men; sometimes also from other women. It seems women are often afraid to call themselves “feminists” because they don’t want to be viewed as crazy or radical.
I think the term has been hijacked from us, and we’re at the point where it is perceived as something totally different than what it truly means. I can say something about feminist bloggers at a table and get smirks — not even from guys, but from other women.
So I will say it once and for all: there’s nothing wrong with being a feminist. And there’s certainly nothing “radical” about wanting equal rights and equal opportunity for all. The notion that wanting such a thing would make you considered radical, crazy, or bitchy, is just plain nonsense.
If you are a woman who tries to disassociate yourself with feminism, I ask you: why? Is it because of all the negative connotations that come with the F-word?
We don’t hate men. We don’t think women should be superior to men. We don’t think all women should put their careers over family, or that no woman should be a stay-at-home mom. What we do believe in is that women should have options to do whatever they want with their lives, just like men. We believe in eradicating problems like wage gaps and gender discrimination, and we believe in pushing forward legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Law and the Family and Medical Leave Act which create equality for women and men.
It’s really not much more complicated than that, so I’m not sure why feminism gets such a bad rap. You shouldn’t have to be ashamed of calling yourself a feminist. If you are a woman who is afraid to call yourself a feminist, it might be time to get over it. Equality is kind of worth fighting for.
As you may know, because I couldn’t resist telling everyone , I had the privilege of talking with the former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers yesterday, who recently authored the book Why Women Should Rule the World and is on a speaking tour. So of course, it follows that I have to blog about it. She’s easily one of the coolest, smartest political women I have ever met, has years of experience in politics and seems to know everyone, too. And she had a lot to say about women in politics — one of my favorite topics. There are definitely still problems that women face when trying to make it in politics and business, but the fact that women like her are doing and saying something about it is really exciting to me. Some of the most interesting things I’ve learned from her…
Women get paid less than men, in part, because women are less likely to ask. Especially young women. Myers cited a fascinating study from Carnegie Mellon University that studied a bunch of graduate students who were going out into the world to find their first post-college jobs, and found that men often got higher starting salaries were an astonishing seven or eight times more likely to just ask. And did you know, that by failing to negotiate that first salary, women stand to lose $500,000 by the time they’re sixty? Women, apparently, are much more timid when it comes to negotiating their salaries and asking for what they’re worth.
There still aren’t enough women in politics, business, science, and academia. Women currently occupy 75 seats out of 438 in the House, and 16 of 100 seats in the Senate. 77 percent of university presidents, in a 2006 study, were male. Women held 14.7% of all Fortune 500 corporate board seats in 2007.
What would happen if women ruled the world? The main argument that Myers is making is that if women had more access to power, the world could be a better place. Women are exceptionally talented at communication, relationship-building, negotiation, and leadership (and she cites plenty of studies to back that up– read her book if you want all the evidence). Getting more women in positions of leadership in politics and business could lead to fewer wars, it could give a huge economic boost to developing countries; it could improve the environment, economy, and education system, which could have a huge ripple effect. Communities could be healthier, businesses more productive.
It’s also worth noting that she’s not a man-hater, although I’m sure she’ll get called that, since most feminists get called that at some point. In fact, I doubt you can be a really successful, notable feminist without being called a man-hater, bitch, or whiner at some point. But despite that, it is worth noting that she is a feminist but NOT hating on men. She thinks women should rule the world…but alongside men, not without men.
I often get a lot of questions and funny stares when people, particularly people in college, find out I write for a political website specifically for women. Is it feminist, people ask? No. So then why do women need their own site? Well, in part because when men talk about politics they claim to speak from a universal point of view, but when women talk about politics it’s still seen as a “minority” point of view — or I wouldn’t get such reactions in the first place. A political website written for and by women still elicits a double-take from most people because it’s still an uncommon thing. But it’s a necessary thing — and that’s why we’re doing it.
When men talk about politics as if they are experts, people listen and believe them. When women talk like experts, even when they are experts, they have to prove their credibility first and then people listen (maybe — but if they have a bad hair day or something, forget it). The problem Myers highlights in her fantastic book is exactly the problem that CJP exists to fight: the tired belief that women can only succeed in the corporate world and political world by becoming more like men and hiding the things that make women different.
Instead, what needs to happen is that women need to own their differences and talk about how our differences are positive, instead of hiding them. And people, particularly women themselves, need to recognize that our differences can actually make the world better.
Hear, hear! That’s what we’ve been hollering about at CJP forever!
(The official video interview will be posted on CitizenJanePolitics by about 10 am EST Thursday. Check it out!!)