Sunday, October 28

Current Events: Politics

Oh, no! Did I really just use the P-word on a blog???

I was ten years old when Shirley Chisholm made a run for the White House in 1972. She was the first African American candidate for the presidency but not the first woman; there had been women candidates before and since, although not so memorable, not until now.

I wanted Shirley to win.

Back in 1972, I was big on Civil Rights and big on Women's Lib. Regarding the latter, I drew up my own petition, using Magic Marker on the white front of one of those rectangular cardboard pieces that were inside my dad's dress shirts when they came back from the dry cleaner's. The heading read "Women's Lib" with two columns below "For" and "Against." I wasn't looking for anyone to sign their actual names - you know, in case the Unamerican Acticities Committee got a hold of my cardboard. I merely wanted to take the pulse of the neighborhood, see who was on board with me. More than one housewife slammed the door in my face. I suspect that years later, divorced and with no credit history to their names, some of them wished they'd paid more attention to the cause of the dark-haired girl with the Magic Marker.

Well, Shirley didn't win. And no woman has made a serious run since. But now, for the first time in the history of our country, a woman is making one: Hillary Clinton. This is not a "Vote for Hillary" piece or a "Don't Vote for Hillary" piece; your politics is your own business, as is mine. Rather, it's a celebration. My daughter is seven years old and I love it that she's growing up in a time when a woman is making the first viable run for the highest office in the land, even while I do resent that it's taken so long to get here. Should a candidate's gender matter in a voter's decision? A lot of people will tell you no, and they'll particularly say it when they're trying to tell you that that's no good reason to vote for a woman. And yet such factors have affected voting patterns here throughout the country's history. It's no accident that for over 200 years the only people to hold the office of president have been white and Christian and male. I don't think it makes me particularly paranoid to say that I see a design in that, even if the design is unintentional. It's like when the New York Times composes a list of the greatest books of the last half century or what-have-you, and out of 25 names only two are woman: Toni Morrison and Marilynne Robinson, the latter for a book, Housekeeping, that the Times didn't even deign to review when it was first published. Or when a list of greatest whatever is drawn up by the Times, and no women are on it at all. Nope, it's not intentional at all! It's simply, they will tell you, that no women in this area are "the best."

But, you know, maybe in one important area, one woman finally is or at least has the chance to be. Maybe she'll be judged by her strengths and not her gender. Who knows how it will all turn out? I sure don't. But I do know that it's exciting to watch, exciting to live in these times, exciting to have my daughter witness history in the making, even if J has asked, more than once, if Hillary Clinton is Paris Hilton's mother. S'OK. Politics can be confusing to the young. J was less than a year old when Al Gore made his 2000 bid. I was flipping through a magazine with her after the fact, when Al was going through his bearded stage, and as we passed his picture she pointed and squealed, "Doggie!" I thought it was a fluke, so I flipped through in the other direction. Again, she stopped me: "Doggie!" Yes, politics and politicians can be confusing; life, too, these days.

So vote for Hillary or don't vote for Hillary, but at least, as women and/or people who care about equality, enjoy the moment. Me, I'm just enjoying watching her run and I don't even hardly hold it against her that when I posted a MySpace bulletin to all my friends there, she didn't personally respond to my request that everybody order SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: IS THERE AN AREA, IN THE GREATER WORLD OR OUR LITERARY ONE, WHERE YOU STILL FEEL WOMEN ARE BEING HELD BACK IN SOME WAY? (OR IF YOU DON'T WANT TO ANSWER THAT, JUST TELL ME HOW YOU'RE DOING.)

Be well. Don't forget to write.

11 comments:

Sara Hantz said...

Great post, Lauren!

I believe the glass ceiling exists in all areas, despite the rhetoric and legislation. And there are so many social pressures I can't see it changing. I know there are expceptions, but that's exactly what they are.... exceptions.

I make a point of supporting female candidates in elections, if at all possible.

Jessica Burkhart said...

Yay, Lauren! We SO need to bring attention to females in all professional areas--especially politics.

Whether or not you support Hilary (and I'm a big supporter!) it's a milestone for us as women to have such a formidable female contender. I'm very proud. :)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Hey, Sara and Jessica - thanks for being in my corner!

TJBrown said...

Good post:)

The thing I try to keep in perspective is not that it has taken so long, but how far we've come in asuch a short time. Women couldn't even VOTE till the the early 1900's. It boggles the mind, really. Until the 70's women were pretty much kept out of the work place and treated horribly when they did get there. yes, we still have much further to go, but honestly, we have come a long way baby;-) Hooray!
Teri

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

We have, Teri!

Alycia said...

Can I post here too if I make a diary.

Gerb said...

Lauren,

I think we've made great strides in politics for women. No matter what you think of their politics, look at the prominent women occupying what was once considered to be a "man's place" - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Governer Jennifer Grandholm, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Elizabeth Dole, etc...

Still, we have miles to go. Women make up only 16% of the members of Congress, 24% of the State elected Executive positions and 23% of the State Legislature.

It is an exciting time when people are waking up to the fact that women can and do make exemplary leaders. Perhaps soon the day will come when those leaders are able to eradicate the glass ceiling once and for all.

Gerb

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Welcome to TFC, Alycia! Main posts here are created by the author contributors, but you're always welcome to comment on posts.

Gerb, one day we will take over the world.

Gerb said...

>>>one day, we will take over the world<<<

Yup. That's my master plan.

Hey, did you happen to see the article in Newsweek last week on women leaders? I saw it in the dentist's office today, but didn't have time to read it. Now I'm going to have to hunt it down.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

No, I didn't see it - keep me posted!

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