Tag Archives: politics

Politics as Usual or Politics by Women!

Reprint of Women’s Media Center Commentary by Carol Jenkins

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As all political eyes move to the vice presidential picks, the WMC is tracking the media’s examination of possible women candidates, and we will explore in depth as we go along. Most names mentioned are sitting governors or other politicians. One notable exception comes from the business world.

Stuart Rothenberg’s recent musings about Carly Fiorina as a vice presidential running mate for John McCain were enlightening. He clearly viewed her candidacy seriously. The former head of Hewlett Packard has become a media frontwoman for the presumed Republican nominee, picking up praise in Republican circles as she travels the country making his case.

Carly FiorinaI once saw Fiorina in action, and she left an indelible impression: never have I seen a woman with so firm a sense of self-assurance. She was speaking at a Women’s Leadership Exchange event just after her memoir, Tough Choices, was published. She took up every inch of the stage, strutting from one end to the other, occasionally referring to her notes at the podium–but really, giving us a display of unabashed confidence sometimes not so evident in women. I understood how she had convinced the boards of HP and Compac to unite, against their wills. As we know now, that turned out somewhat badly for her: she lost her job, but did walk away with a reported $42 million in severance.

Fiorina’s described as a moderate: she knows the economy, she’s managed thousands of employees, she’s a fighter–and she knows how to close the deal.  She’s also a media familiar. Despite all that, Rothenberg comes to the conclusion that without the vetting of running for office before, she may be just too risky–and controversial.

Hillary ClintonThe other fascinating piece to surface this week was Michael Goodwin’s switch on Hillary Clinton-now claiming that perhaps she is the best VP candidate for Obama after all. This after the NY Daily News columnist ran an unrelenting series of anti Hillary rants with titles like “Hillary Clinton is One Sorry Sight on her Way to Defeat” and “Hillary is Her Own Worst Enemy” throughout the primary season.

Goodwin was apparently so moved by Clinton’s appearance in Unity, New Hampshire that he now says. “Clinton’s Friday performance adds to my growing belief the dream ticket is an on-again possibility.”  Of course, much of the article talked about Obama’s reversal on some key “change” issues. According to Goodwin, “So, if he’s going to act like a Clinton, why not team up with one?”

It seems there are still plenty of surprises and excitement left in the presidential campaign. We will monitor the media developments and keep you informed. Support The Women’s Media Center in our effort to make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Check out the womensmediacenter.com

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Sexism Sells, But We’re Not Buying

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Republished: From The Womens Media Center
Carol JenkinsMay 23, 2008

In this most rigorous of primary seasons the subjects of gender and race have been pummeled, the youngest voters and oldest-ever candidate minutely scrutinized, and now we are required to sort ourselves by class.

In fact, the fracturing of our identities into gender, race, class, and age has been so thorough that the main task we have as a nation now is pulling ourselves together into a whole. If we’re lucky, this new nation will be an improvement on what we had. If we don’t exert every effort at reconciliation, these historic breakthroughs in political participation will be for naught. Media’s involvement in our division–and its responsibility in the healing–cannot be underestimated.

Our concerns here at The Women’s Media Center are just that–women and media: how women participate and how they are portrayed. For the past several months we  have been monitoring comments made during this campaign, as have others (see Marie Cocco’s Misogyny I Won’t Miss).  There has been a disturbing element that goes beyond disagreement with the issues-and steps into the territory of outright sexism.

Sexism in the MediaWith several partners, including the National Women’s Political Caucus, we have pulled together a video compilation of some of the most egregious remarks that aired recently on television. We call it “Sexism Sells, But We’re Not Buying.”  Not all the clips are aimed at Hilary Clinton, but a lot are.  As a non-partisan organization, we do not support any candidates.  But this isn’t a partisan issue: it’s about making sure that women’s voices are present and powerful in our national dialogue. If you haven’t already, please click on the image at right to watch the video, and sign our petition. We’ll make sure the media executives get your responses. Together we can and must win this fight.

P.S. I love Hilary Clinton – Sincerely, Joy Rose www.mamapalooza.com

Women & Power

Subject: Reprint. I couldn’t agree more! Joy Rose

Op-Ed Contributor
Women Are Never Front-Runners
By GLORIA STEINEM
New York Times. Published: January 8, 2008

THE woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father – in this race-conscious country, she is considered black – she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.
Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

If you answered no to either question, you’re not alone. Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.
That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).

If the lawyer described above had been just as charismatic but named, say, Achola Obama instead of Barack Obama, her goose would have been cooked long ago. Indeed, neither she nor Hillary Clinton could have used Mr. Obama’s public style – or Bill Clinton’s either – without being considered too emotional by Washington pundits.
So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together. That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that.

I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule. I’m not opposing Mr. Obama; if he’s the nominee, I’ll volunteer. Indeed, if you look at votes during their two-year overlap in the Senate, they were the same more than 90 percent of the time. Besides, to clean up the mess left by President Bush, we may need two terms of President Clinton and two of President Obama.
But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.
What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.
What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old – for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy, though Senator Edward Kennedy is supporting Senator Clinton – while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”