Tag Archives: women’s media center

McCain Tries To Grab the History Flag From Obama

McCain Tries To Grab the History Flag From Obama
by Tanya Melich
August 29, 2008
return: Mamapalooza Media
This article is reprinted from Women’s Media Center (Link Below)

The first time I hear a woman has achieved something special, my automatic reaction is to cheer, to think  “good, another of us has won.”

Then reality sets in and the questions start.

That is what happened this morning when the cable television news programs announced that John McCain had picked first term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, age 44, to be his vice-presidential running mate.

Watching her at a rally with John McCain standing by her side like a proud, protective grandfather, Palin was energetic, warm and reminded me of all those earnest young women we feminists have been recruiting into the women’s political movement since the early l970s.

Her path to power follows the pattern of many of those women that the Center for American Women in Politics has been studying for years. They are caring woman who get into politics to tackle local problems and move up to greater and greater responsibilities and power by grit, charm and aggressiveness.

Palin started in the PTA angered over local school conditions. Her small town of Wasilla-population nearly 8,000-elected her to its City Council on a plank of cutting taxes.  At 32 years old, she became Wasilla’s mayor.  A race for lieutenant governor against opponents with much more experience was lost but only by some 2,000 votes.

Next she challenged the Alaska GOP establishment and won a three-way primary in 2006 with 51 percent of the vote.  She then defeated the Democrat Tony Knowles 48 to 41 percent, not a bad  showing for a 42-year old woman with a modest public record.

On the surface, she appears to be a woman with political talent, but dig deeper and you wonder what is there to make McCain believe she would make a good president of the United States.  Why her for the top political job in America?

If he wanted to grab some of the historic glory  from Obama’s remarkable rise with his own first for the GOP, Texas U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutcheson was McCain’s logical choice.  She’s been a senator since 1993, has sat on the Armed Services Committee for years and is acceptable to the social conservatives and economic conservatives that make up the base of the GOP. She is experienced enough to be a serious contender.

Others in the GOP field all have problems with the GOP voting base: Condi Rice is too tied to the Bush Administration, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are too moderate and Christine Todd Whitman is not popular with the White House.  That leaves Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle who has not been sufficiently anti-tax for the GOP supply-siders and not sufficiently in tune with the religious GOP conservatives.

The reality of the McCain pick barely rests on Palin’s personal qualifications. McCain is attempting to present Palin as a symbol that the Republican Party supports women  but  her selection is not a major change-except by degree-for the GOP. Republicans have been running women for a long time. This historic first is NOT a first for the country, just  for the GOP.

McCain is caught on the horns of a dilemma.  To beat Obama, he must hold onto the socially conservative base of the Republican Party.  He must energize those who oppose abortion, rights for gays, gun control and stem cell research. He can’t run away from his 90 percent recent voting record favoring President Bush’s policies.

McCain hopes that by picking a woman he can show he’s open to doing things differently, but his selection is window dressing and insulting to anyone who knows that he opposes equal pay for equal work legislation and opposes a woman’s right to choose.

And this is just part of the list of issues of concern to women that he doesn’t champion.

Most importantly, McCain is not disentangling himself from the anti-woman backlash GOP strategy adopted many years ago to elect Reagan and then the two Bushes. One of his closest advisors, Charles Black, has for years been an enforcer of this strategy. This Republican War Against Women approach adopted first in 1980 is still very much in place.  The strategy has nothing to do with running women for office.  It has always been about the party’s antagonistic policies toward issues of specific concern to women.

To win the presidency, Reagan and the two Bushes played on the fear of women’s potential power. It is because of this strategy that women have been leaving the Republican party for years, and it is why more American woman are Democrats and vote Democratic.

This backlash strategy born in the passionate times of the 1970s, when many Americans were afraid of women’s power, will no longer work. How insulting to American women that the McCain camp thinks it can disguise it.

This campaign season America has seen a capable, competent woman nearly become the nominee of a major political party. Women are now governors, CEOs, members of Congress and presidents of many universities. And of  course, Nancy Pelosi is by the Constitution third in line to be president of the United State as the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Upon hearing that Sarah Palin had been selected to be McCain’s running mate, Senator Hutcheson called her “a breath of fresh air.” Unfortunately for the Republicans, Palin is not.  She is a retread of the Republican backlash strategy that showcases women but insists they be attached to policies that hurt women.

John McCain may think he can seduce American voters by having Sarah Palin by his side, but when the majority of Americans learn the Republican platform does not bring health care to Americans, will not protect woman to make their own reproductive choices, does not bring legal protection for equal pay for equal work, Sarah Palin, the McCain Trojan filly, will not fool American women.


About the Author:  Tanya Melich is a nationally recognized authority on women in politics. She was a co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus and led the fledgling National Women’s Education Fund, the first organization to educate women systematically on how to gain political power.  Melich lectures extensively on college campuses and at domestic and international forums. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Republican War Against Women: An Insider’s Report from Behind the Lines (Bantam, l996; paperback, l998). Formerly a Republican who served on the political staffs of Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, Charles Goodell and John Lindsay, she is now a Jeffords independent. She was a senior advisor on centrist women voters for the 2004
Women’s Media Center

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

Mother’s Day, Observed by Rebekah Spicuglia

Mother’s Day, Observed  by Rebekah Spicuglia
May 9, 2008

Mother’s Day brunch at Jack’s Restaurant had a line out the door.  I was barely 18, weeks from graduating high school, but living on my own and bussing tables to pay the rent.  As my boyfriend—mi novio—cooked omelets in the country kitchen, another cook, my future brother-in-law, pinned a carnation to my shirt.  “Happy Mother’s Day, cuñada.”

Suddenly I realized, surrounded by a mix of strangers and unexpected new family, that this special day was mine now, to celebrate.  But I was young, and few people knew I was pregnant—so I kept it to myself. And so it began: passing as an ordinary woman, with a secret joy pinned to my breast.
Excitement kicks on the rare occasion I get to talk about my son Oscar, a thrill that for many years was more of an anxious dread.  I have spent my entire adult life in various metropolitan areas, surrounded by undergrads and Sex-and-the-City crowds (translation: single, childless).  It’s partly my youth, partly the city life I’m living, but how people look at me at me changes once I reveal that I am a mom.  Surprise, curiosity, and mixed feelings.

Mother’s Day at Its Root

Last May, the Women’s Media Center posted a commentary by Gloria Steinem, “Mother as a Verb.” Below is an excerpt. Click here for the full article.

[W]hen mother is a verb—as in to mother, to be mothered—then the best of human possibilities come into our imaginations.   To mother is to care about the welfare of another person as much as one’s own.
To mother depends on empathy and thoughtfulness, noticing and caring. To mother is the only paradigm in which the strong and the weak are perfectly matched in mutual interest. Besides, one may be forced to be a mother, but one cannot be forced to mother.

So perhaps what Julia Ward Howe had in mind when she created this day in 1870—a day of opposing war and uniting for peace—was not so much a Mother’s Day as a Mothering Day; a day that reminds us all, whether we are young or old, male or female, of the possibilities within us.
I thank Julia. Forever more, we will be reminded that peace is not just the absence of war, but the presence and possibility of mothering.

This is because Oscar lives 3,000 miles away with his father, a non-traditional arrangement that somehow makes the best of things, yet a physical distance that is completely foreign to most parents.  At first mention of Oscar, another parent will ask what school he goes to—and our experience of mothering has so little in common, conversation comes to a standstill.  I suddenly feel compelled to share intimately, to validate difficult choices and thereby keep questions of my maternal instincts at bay.  I want to lay the foundation for later conversations that will move beyond the leftover pain and get to the remaining joy.  My confessionals are exhausting, however, and I’m often not sure whether I have said too much or too little.  I have sometimes found that it is easier to not even mention Oscar.  Except it has never been that easy.

I am a mom—it’s part of my identity, and I work hard at it daily.  Yet as a non-custodial, long-distance mom, I have often felt I lacked bragging rights as I struggled for recognition from his school, from other parents, and even from those closest to me.

Coming of age in a town with one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in California, and marrying into a large Mexican family, this isolation was not a problem in the beginning.  I quickly made friends with other mamas as my fellow honor student friends moved on to university.  I went to community college—doing homework at the park, in the McDonald’s playground, anywhere my son could be kept safely and happily occupied.  But life has a way of intervening, and soon miles separated me from the immediacy of being a parent.

It wasn’t until recently that I began to feel comfortable again in my own mama-skin.  For that, I must credit the women I now have around me—I never had a sense of community until I started working in feminist circles that gave me supportive environments in which to live and work.  One group essential to me is Mamapalooza, with its president Joy Rose. It is an international performing arts and music festival created to celebrate women as mothers and artists. At the New York City conference last year, I was impressed with how moms were highlighted in all their diversity.  Joy was the first person who immediately “got” me once I’d shared my story—the first time I felt free to talk about Oscar and myself without caution.  I realized how withdrawn and protective I had been as Joy joked about “outing” me as a mom to a friend of hers.

This is the first Mother’s Day I have identified as a member of the feminist mamasphere and appreciate coming together as a community to honor our mother figures.  Because it’s in the middle of the school year, I do not get to spend it with Oscar. But it is a special day for mothering, regardless of the distance.  I can educate my son about the importance of meaningful gestures—not for my own sake, but so that he understands who he is, as he grows into a thoughtful, responsible person, generous in spirit and rich in love.  Oscar and I have learned to value every moment, and like other children and mothers, we will look back together, every Mother’s Day, and reminisce on the intertwined nature of our history.
We celebrate those who have played a maternal role in our lives by acknowledging them, often by pinning them with a carnation or with flowers and gifts.  However, it is also an opportunity to take the love we have received and pay it forward to the larger community of women.  Demonstrate your love by supporting moms as a political force with Momsrising, lending money to a woman entrepreneur at Kiva, providing critical support in global conflict zones by donating to MADRE, attending a Mamapalooza event, or finding a cause meaningful to you.

Make your mother proud.  I can tell you that it is the best gift of all.