Tag Archives: the 30% solution

Cartoon Change, Cartoon Sexism, Real Patriarchy

When rabid sexism, like that demonstrated by the radio host (Peter Boyles, right) who called Representative Diana DeGette “Vagina DeGette,” is brought to our attention by the corporate media, I can’t help but wonder about what does not capture their attention — like, for example, female underrepresentation in government, or the fact that women are still not protected from discrimination according to the Constitution. Are most Americans even capable of seeing the more subtle, but far more damaging misogyny that pervades our society so thoroughly? Does the cartoonish and blatant help to illuminate the sophisticated and covert? Or does it serve as a way to cover up and discredit those of us who want to bring the hatred that dare not speak its name into the light?

Using a woman’s sexual organs to ridicule her is textbook sexism, reduced to its most basic level. On one level, I thank the ignorant and hateful people who do things like this, so that anyone can see that misogyny is still alive and thriving in America. It also gives feminists a great opportunity for activism and the ability to speak out about things we can all agree upon.

But in a larger sense, what harm does this type of sexism do? Is Diana DeGette’s career or reputation going to suffer because of this radio host’s idiocy? Is any woman going to be harmed because a 66-year-old adolescent seems to find her ladyparts funny?

On the other hand, the fact that women are underrepresented in government has done enormous harm to American women and men. As we see over and over again, when women make up 30% or more of a government, issues like violence against women, health care, child care for working women, and so many others, are suddenly on the table. Further, until women reach and maintain or exceed that percentage, those issues are not on the table. Logic would dictate that, knowing that these two things are true, a woman who cares about these issues should always vote for women, and only for women. Continue reading


Friday: Realistic Expectations, Going to My Happy Place

We Are the Future

We Are The Future

As the inability of President Obama and the Democrats to direct the national dialogue over the economy grows, I believe that I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that the American two-party political process has become completely irrelevant as an instrument of change. The corporate interests will no longer permit a person like FDR, LBJ, JFK or Bill Clinton to be elected to the presidency of our great country. After the past eight years of Bush’s deregulation, massive tax cuts, endless feeding of the military-industrial complex with constant and unnecessary wars and crony capitalism, the Powers-That-Be are far too entrenched to allow any leader to derail their gravy trains.

The patriarchy, the plutocracy, whatever you want to call it – it’s still in charge and will protect itself at all costs; and that problem is never going to go away unless we start electing more women to higher office. Women think differently, speak differently, interact differently and legislate differently, no matter what party they align themselves with. We women are the hope of our nation and of the world – an unexplored and underexploited resource that is being ignored, as Riverdaughter says, at great cost. (I’ll have a post on Sunday that explores an example of this process happening right now.  The 30% Solution really does work. Really!)

In the meantime, I will try to savor the little victories like the expansion of SCHIP passing, and the international community’s joy at the prospect of Hillary Clinton’s leadership at the State Department, while knowing that the larger victories are some time away. I’ll continue to hold the Dems and Repubs accountable for their unwillingness to do what’s right for America, without being too disappointed when they meet my lowered expectations. And I’ll try find something beautiful and good to concentrate on – a lovely piece of music, a phone call from a friend, a hug from my spouse, the savor of a good book, a “well-done” at work.  

This too shall pass.

Hillary 1, Obama 0

Photo by The New York Times

Photo by The New York Times

Poor Barack Obama. He didn’t realize that New York governors don’t sell their Senate seats like Chicago governors, no matter how many rich and powerful people you marshal in your favorite’s defense.

Caroline was inevitable, we Noo Yorkaz were told. The New York Times pushed her almost daily. Obama wanted her. Bloomberg wanted her. Ted Kennedy told Paterson that should he do the Kennedys this favor, New York’s requests for money and time would go straight to the front of the line. (I wonder if Ted was smoking a cigar and talking about offers he couldn’t refuse at the time?)

But Paterson didn’t listen. He went with Hillary’s choice, Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. It seems like he always meant what he said from the beginning – he would pick a woman, and a person who represents the more conservative upstate area of New York, which it is difficult for Democratic politicians to win over.

Governor Paterson had a conference call last night. In it, he stated he had made his choice on Sunday and would announce it on Friday. Given that information, isn’t it easy to understand why Caroline withdrew? There is a lot of speculation about possible tax problems, nanny problems and a high-profile affair with the editor of the New York Times. But honestly, it just seems as though he never wanted her, and told her so.

Today, misogynistic election-stealer Donna Brazile is pouting that the Obama team’s choice was rejected. Sadly, she’s cloaking it in faux concern for women being under-represented in government.

Political strategist Donna Brazile noted the contrast between the excitement surrounding Obama’s inauguration this week and the general public attitude toward women in office, one that she said helped drive Kennedy out of the running.

Um, Donna? Didja not notice that Kirsten Gillibrand is, like, you know, a woman? So clearly, the “general public attitude toward women in office” had absolutely jack SHIT to do with Caroline being kicked to the curb. Caroline Kennedy was not qualified, just as Obama wasn’t qualified. And New York politicians seem to take their responsibilities seriously, unlike their colleagues in Chicago.

I have no doubt that Kirsten Gillibrand, who is already a two-term Congresswoman, will be a great choice for the next New York Senator. And may I say, thanks SO MUCH to all the New York PUMAs who joined me in my efforts to convince the Governor to do the right thing, especially TPT/NY! You go, sister girl!

Meantime, for those keeping score in the new Obama administration: Hillary 1, Obama 0.

The “Strict” 30% Solution?



There was a very interesting discussion on The Confluence last night about the 30% Solution. Some concerns were being raised about always voting for a woman, no matter what. People were calling such an approach the “strict” 30% Solution. As the coiner of this term, I had never heard this variant, and I’d like to address it in this post.

First of all, the 30% Solution is not just about voting. It is important to vote for women in order to achieve it, but in countries where the critical mass has been reached and surpassed, voting was not the only method of putting more women into national office. Some used quota systems, some revised their election procedures – some enshrined the percentage into their Constitution. In other words, the change occurred both at a grassroots level and at a governmental level. Thus, the entire responsibility for the success of this effort does not rest solely on your vote.

In fact, one of my ideas for reaching critical mass earlier is to use our many, many PUMA voices to reach out to the RNC and the DNC, and demand that in 2010, the next slate of new candidates for national office will include at least 30% women.

As many may be aware, John McCain promised gender equity in his Cabinet and a significant increase in the number of women in power by the end of his first term. This makes me think that the Republican Party may be open to my idea, in order to appeal to what could become the largest voting bloc in America – women and men who support them! And if the Republican Party does it, the Democratic Party might feel inspired to do the same.

I am hoping to start some discussion on this idea by posting it here. What do you think?

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Thank You, Sisters; and, Wake Up, Sisters!

I have been wanting to write this post for a while. Since we are taking a breath to regroup and determine our goals for the PUMA movement going forward, I think it’s finally time to say:

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Thank you.

Thank you to all the women who braved the buzzsaw of sexism in order to run for President and Vice President. Since 1884, you have been trying to break that highest, hardest glass ceiling, and this year, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin came the closest anyone has come in 24 years. Because of their work, and all the sisters who have come before, American women are one step closer to having a sister in the White House for the very first time. Your courage and strength is mindboggling, and if we keep working to push women forward in all levels of government, one day we, too, will be saying, “Yes We Did!” on Election Night.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

But our work is not done. I shudder to read the mindless, uninformed drivel that comes out of the mouths of high-profile women these days. Melissa Etheridge, a gay woman who supported Barack Obama, was devastated when Proposition 8 passed in California. But she soon found comfort in her new Messiah of Unity and Rainbows:

…I tell myself to take a breath, okay take another one… Obama has been elected president. This crazy fearful insanity will end soon. This great state and this great country of ours will finally come to the understanding that there is no “them”. We are one. We are united. What you do to someone else you do to yourself. That “judge not, lest ye yourself be judged” are truthful words and not Christian rhetoric.

Melissa. Honey. Without the overwhelming support of Barack Obama’s oh-so-Christian, non-judgmental voters in California, Proposition 8 would never have passed. Moreover, your beloved Precious is on record saying he does not think you have the right to marry the woman you love, and his voice was used in robocalls on Election Day, saying that very thing, to encourage his supporters to vote for this “crazy fearful insanity.”

So, wake up, sister. The election of Barack Obama has actually made your rosy little scenario LESS LIKELY.

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Life vs. Life: Why The Abortion Issue Rules Us All

A Potential Life at Two Days Old

A Potential Life at Two Days Old

In this charged election year, no matter who claims the White House in 2009, we will be electing at least one person with restrictive views on abortion to the White House.

John McCain proclaims that he is “proudly pro-life” (although in the 2000 election, he stated just the opposite). His running mate, Sarah Palin, is far more credible and consistent in her stance against abortion, and even belongs to a group called “Feminists for Life.” As for Barack Obama, he has veered away from the traditional Democratic framing of “safe, legal and rare,” and has been talking about how women shouldn’t get third-trimester abortions just because we’re feeling blue; indeed, we gals are such frivolous creatures that we, as a matter of course, must consult a committee before making such a momentous decision. At least Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s running mate, is unwavering in his pro-choice stance, and drafted the Violence Against Women Act in 1994; however, many of us will never forget his role in casting doubt upon Anita Hill’s story, which helped confirm the arch-conservative Clarence Thomas – another anti-choice Justice – to the Supreme Court.

35 years after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in America, why is that decision such a controversial and emotional one in our political and personal lives? I believe it is because the choice to terminate a pregnancy is perceived as a choice of one life over another. And how can one make such a choice without agony and conflict? How can a just and lawful nation allow the murder of a child by its mother?

Except that’s not really what happens, is it? What happens in an abortion is that a mother trades a potential life for an actual life. But that simple idea has become lost in a fog of pseudo-science, emotional manipulation by both parties, religious interference and deep-seated societal misogyny.

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