No more, no less
The Year of the Woman in politics is thrilling and appalling in one fell swoop
By Ellen Snortland 06/24/2010
Yes, I’m excited that many women won their election bids on June 8. However, if I hear one more pronouncement, “Oh, it’s the year of the woman!” I’ll hurl. I’m with the ever straight-shooting Democratic US Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who — in days gone by, in yet another “year” of the woman — said, “Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We’re not a fad, a fancy, or a year.”
Women I don’t like have won primaries; women I back have also won primaries. Hmmm. It sounds suspiciously like human beings! Just like “real” people, er, men, there are women I agree and disagree with. If I sound cranky, yes, it’s true. I’m so tired of pointing out we have yet to attain equality, domestically and internationally, that I come by my crabbiness honestly. Let me point you toward a terrific Web site that has scads of statistics to show just how far we have to go in politics as a group. Here it is: onlinewomeninpolitics.org/statistics.htm.
So yes, I’m thrilled and appalled in one fell swoop. Here we are in 2010 and the percentage of women in Congress is still pathetically low; stuck at a high of 15 percent. Our statistics are worse than Bangladesh and Kazakhstan. Are you aware that Rwanda has a better rate of female legislators? As of 2003, nearly 50 percent of their parliament members were women. Rwandan women are not fads. They are citizens participating in their own governance.
Do I do think women are better than men? No! Possibly less corrupt, but certainly as potentially corruptible as men. Do I think we should have equal — not just better — representation because we’re superior? NO! Do I like that there are so many men in power, making decisions that impact my life on a daily basis? NO! I think we should be represented equally because we are citizens; no more, no less.
Early women’s rights champion and mother of the women’s vote Susan B. Anthony said, “Men: their rights and nothing more; women: their rights and nothing less.”
Does it bug me that a bunch of conservative women are closing in on positions of power? YES! Does it also mean we have made progress toward a true democracy when people of my gender with whom I don’t agree get involved with government? Yes! Are there women I would NEVER vote for? Yes! This is the conundrum of a full citizen. Did I really think that when I committed myself to my own liberation and the full equality of women and girls, that the conservative side would be excluded? NO!
Oh, and the “catty” comments? Please! Do people really think the fighting cat analogy only works for women? Do you really think that two men picking at each other aren’t “catty?” If we’re going to call people catty, let’s include the men too, OK? Sure, Carly Fiorina is catty, but so is Rush Limbaugh. (And some other words I can’t mention here.) And hair issues? Excuse me? You may recall that former Congressman Jim Rogan looked like he had roadkill duct-taped to his head. So, if you’re going to be snarky about hair, don’t forget the pates of the men in the races.
Since when do we call a male sweep of power “The Year of the Man?” Male dominance of almost ALL fields, not just politics, is the water we swim in … it needs no name. And for people to kind of sloppily think that the US is soooo great for women makes me nutty. Don’t get me wrong — I love my country. I have great advantages because I live here, but NOT because I’m a woman, because I’m a citizen.
So, back to that conundrum. I know full well that when women worked so hard to attain the vote it was a first step. We also knew we’d be giving the vote to stupid women, just as stupid men were allowed to vote. Similarly, idiots are going to be elected. Women have the right to be boneheads, just like their brothers. And I’ve always said that Americans would go for conservative women far faster than liberal women. Once again, I hate being right.
So, here’s to women moving out of “novelty” and into an era of “So what?” It’s progress to see ideologically opposed women competing with each other for seats. And as Susan B. Anthony also said, “There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws.” No tokens, no fads, just citizens.
Two events I’d like to point out: First, my show “Now That She’s Gone” was selected to be in the first annual Hollywood Fringe Festival. I’ll be performing on the festival’s last day, Sunday, at noon and 7 p.m. Go to snortland.com for details.
Then, in Eagle Rock this weekend, go see some stunning work by African-American artist Toni Scott at Jose Vera Fine Art & Antiques, 2012 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. Call (323) 258-5050 or visit joseveragallery.com.
Ms. Snortland teaches a writers’ workshop in Altadena. Contact her at snortland.com.