What women's rights look like when the two sides come together as one.
What women's rights are when women are no longer manipulated by party rhetoric.


Friday, May 18, 2012

France Beats The U.S. at Parity

Cynthia Ruccia



This is what parity looks like!! The new Francois Hollande government in France has appointed a gender equal cabinet having appointed 17 women and 17 men to lead the various departments. Hollande kept a campaign promise (how unique is that!!!!) to boost France's pitiful ratings and overnight France went from having a 16% female cabinet to having a 50% male/female cabinet.
You can read all about it here. You could quibble that the appointments given the women were not the most important cabinet posts, but I'm not in a mood to quibble. In one fell swoop, parity was achieved, and hopefully France will continue down this path of parity. France ranks nominally better than the United States in female representation in government, France ranking 69 to the U.S.'s 78. Hopefully this move will be a real game changer for France.!!



I'd like to know how Hollande was persuaded to make gender parity a campaign issue. Back in 2008, many Hillary supporters attempted to appeal to the Obama campaign to make the same promise and were rebuffed at every turn. They were not only rebuffed and stonewalled, they were ridiculed as if to say that this idea of a gender equal cabinet was totally ridiculous.

I'd like to suggest that one of the presidential campaigns needs to make this kind of promise. If one of the campaigns decides to nominate a woman VP and to promise a gender equal cabinet, that party would instantly become the new "party of women." And make no mistake, whichever campaign made such a move would win. If you take away the loudmouths on either end of the ideological spectrum (maybe 30% of the electorate) who would instantly and vocally pooh-pooh this idea on sight, the vast majority of people in the middle would love an idea like this. At the very least, enough people would be attracted to such an idea to swing the election.

It must be remembered that the ideological extremes would hate this idea not because it is a bad idea, but because they perceive that it would threaten their power. And in a way they would be right------it would pull the rug out from under them. But if you look at it another way, what's wrong with jump-starting female equality? There are plenty of great and qualified women in both parties to more than fill an ENTIRE cabinet. We've covered the territory of greatly qualified women for VP on this blog. Anyone who thinks that this idea is just less important than other issues is either tone deaf or just plain ignorant about women and feminism or is an outright sexist. NOTHING is more inmportant than living up to the promises we make to our girls------that they can be whatever they want. As I always say, that idea is just a dream at this point.

Let's ask our presidential candidates to do more than pay lip service to get our votes. Let's ask them to one up the French---------zuts alors!!! We are the U.S. and we can do it!!! But we need to convince both campaigns that we want something solid for our votes. Not the game of fear tactics. We want to do better than the French. A woman VP and a gender equal cabinet. It's all so simple......

And a special thanks to EC who brought this whole thing to my attention today.

30 comments:

  1. imagine a 50% female cabinet. That would make my day, month, year, life.

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  2. This would be great!

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  3. Joshua W. BurtonMay 18, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Imagine a female Speaker of the House, next January 3rd.

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    1. I'd rather imagine something more groundbreaking----a female VP and a 50% female cabinet.

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    2. Joshua W. BurtonMay 18, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      Only one woman has ever been two heartbeats from national command authority, and it wasn't Rice, Albright, Dole nor Frances Perkins, nor any other Madam Secretary.

      I'm actually reasonably hopeful for a female-majority Supreme Court, with a woman chief justice of the United States, before we elect a woman president in 2016. We're more than halfway there, in just four years.

      Oh, and let's not forget the UK and her dominions, which have had a female head of state for 124 out of the last 165 years, more than three quarters of the whole industrial era (and she's on all the coins, not just a token dollar nobody likes). A new life in Canada is much more pleasant to imagine than the wrong female VP.

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    3. Canada? That's a little melodramatic Joshua. We've had the wrong MALE VP many times I'm sure, and I don't see that you've been moved to expatriate yourself.

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    4. Joshua W. BurtonMay 19, 2012 at 8:55 PM

      As a matter of fact, I did spend Dan Quayle's vice presidency living very happily as an expat, in Israel. (It's possible you have me confused with another Joshua; I don't think we've ever met, and so there's no reason you would know about my personal life. But thanks for your concern!)

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    5. Lol Joshua---I believe I am acquainted with your alter ego

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    6. Joshua W. BurtonMay 19, 2012 at 9:38 PM

      Was replying to Ms. Mary's intrepid familiarity, Cynthia - of course, of you've introduced her to me on one of my visits to Columbus, I reproved her out of turn and apologize for my faulty memory!

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  4. Once they decide to do it, it's not hard. The moaning about not finding enough qualified women will continue until it's a done deal. And it has to be 50%, anything less is tokenism.

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    1. well said Liz!! and I think that we've tasted enough tokenism. At one time, a token was progress. At this point, tokens magnify the endemic sexism.

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  5. Joshua W. BurtonMay 18, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    Incidentally, the number of men in the French cabinet went up from 12 (out of 21) to 17 (out of 34) this year. (Source.) If the current POTUS were granted senatorial advice and consent to increase the number of cabinet-level appointments by over 60%, we could easily have a majority-female cabinet (and Supreme Court, why not?) before the election. This is one of many reasons why comparisons between a parliamentary ministry and a non-legislative cabinet are problematic.

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    1. I understand the technicalities you mention, but it's hard not to see that institutional sexism adjusts to any system. It's a mindset, not a technicality

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    2. if you are speaking about the current potus, I know you love him Joshua, so please don't take this personally. It's not meant that way. It's just that for our current president, women's equality is really the furthest thing from his mind. And you can list chapter and verse as to why I'm wrong, and you wouldn't change my mind. nothing he has done can erase the lack of respect he and his campaign have shown to women from the get go.IMHO a proper leader takes responsibility for everything done in his name. This president and his fans don't play by that rule.

      But enough. This is NOT a blog to bash Obama. This blog is to speak the truth about sexism and how to advance women. Sadly, our president hasn't measured up on this score for the many of us who aren't idealogues.

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    3. Joshua W. BurtonMay 19, 2012 at 9:20 PM

      Eh. He was a fine junior senator for us (as was Sen. Clinton, another Chicago hometown hero, for her adopted state). And he's done a creditable job since 2008, of course. But I'll save strong words like "love" for the candidate Gov. Romney is campaigning against. If only he (or she!) existed, I'd be out knocking on doors this weekend!

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  6. I really like that picture. Thank you for posting it!

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  7. Nice. Something to celebrate. Thanks for sharing it at TCH. I had missed it because I've been offline for most of today.

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    1. ok AB-----how do we leverage this?

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    2. Ahhh, you know me so well. I have great ideas, but zero capital to invest them. BUT, if I was a wealthy woman, I would immediately hire someone with technical skill to team with a high profile leftist feminist blog to send the Obama campaign "Julia-style" virtual cards asking him to take the Hollande Challenge for his second term.

      Pressure him from the inside and the outside. Talk about how it would be something enticing for independent women who care about parity, but who don't buy the war on woman thing. Sell it to him as a way for him to keep Biden. Make it make sense to him, and worth the pay out. My 2 cents.

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    3. You could do something similar with Romney, but the card thing would never work. Conservative women aren't sold on parity. Yet. They want it and they vote for it, but it isn't yet acceptable to embrace as an idea because of the right's resistance to "identity politics." But they are slowly getting accustomed to the reality and benefits of diversity, so it's only a matter of time. But you could lobby Romney to take the Hollande Challenge as a way to reach out to independent women. Be a harder sell, though. A woman VP is the better argument to use on the right.

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  8. "I'd like to know how Hollande was persuaded to make gender parity a campaign issue." Hollande is a Socialist, and the Socialist philosophy promotes equality more than Sarkozy's Conservatism which is much more elitist and trends more towards disparity rather than parity. As a political scientist/professor, I strongly believe that we will continue to go down the wrong path if we continue to elect ultra-right Conservatives-- they are NOT for women's equality. The Right is the same throughout the world, this is not exclusive to the U.S. Ex: Romney will not support Equal Pay Act. Let's get something clear--he is beholden to the extreme Right (and ALL of their monetary interests) and things will not clear up if he gets into the highest position in the land. On the contrary, in order to further the Conservative i.e., Patriarchal agenda, basic policies of cuts for the poor & middle class while giving to the elitist rich is indicative of their regressive ideology.
    IMHO... Conservatives in the U.S. are no better than Obama Admin. regrding their position on Hillary. So, you're looking for a non-existent panacea to your woes-- they WILL NOT be the change you're looking for! They worked day & night to destroy the Clintons, and will NOT HESISTATE to continue with that agenda if Hillary is presidential candidate in 2016. Why? Because Hillary is a HUGE THREAT to their Conservative Ideology & policies!

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  9. Obama's SOS is Hillary Clinton--she would NEVER have been chosen in a Romney administration, and neither would any of the policies that she supports and promotes. Condoleeza Rice did not promote peace; on the contrary, she was implicit in W's agenda of perpetuating an untenable 2 wars! I've said this before, saying it again... you want real change fo women? Elect more women that share the philosophy of equality and parity. Usually, on the state and national level, Conservative policies do not allow for fundamental changes such as the ones that you hope for, simply because the policies reflect the ideologies. As evidenced by France's election-- socialist ideology is reflected in its policies. We can not turn back the hands of time as Conservatives want--its counter to evolution--oops, but then again, that's another topic :) Democratic Party --yes, the Party you despise for 2008, is much closer than the Repub Party. So, if you want REAL CHANGE, change the system. The Dem Party needs MORE WOMEN to TAKE OVER! If not, form a Woman's Party.

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  10. Thanks for weighing in Ginger!!! I respect very very much what you have to say. Your perspective on this is very valuable, especially because of your academic background . You mention the ultra right, and I agree, but the ultra left is just as bad. I'm not putting my eggs into either of their baskets.

    The argument about war and the left and right is interesting, but doesn't address the inequality of women in any way. We can criticize women on both sides, and I don't have a problem with that. But it seems to me that if we can have an equal number of women on both sides of the coin, it might end up redefining all of our ideas of left and right to date. I could be dreaming as well, but I'd like to give it a shot. It seems faulty to compare all women based on the few who have been able to break through. These women (and I am generalizing----exceptions can be found)had to make many many compromises to rise because they are still the minority at the top. I hope you didn't have to do any of that to rise in your profession. But so many women still have to compromise, morph into something else, and tamp down some of their traits in order to get ahead that it is difficult to imagine what it would be like if women were equal on both sides.

    The idea of a woman's party comes up over and over again. However, there is truly trouble in the sisterhood when it comes to banding together to get ahead. I could write a book about why (and maybe I will!!), but it is a fact.

    I don't know if you were alive during the second wave. I was and it was thrilling. For a time, women had common goals and worked together and look what happened. As soon as possible, we were divided and conquered and that is where we remain. So the question remains, how do we unshackle ourselves from this paradigm?

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  11. More blah, blah, blah about the bad old Republicans. So long, this is no place for a "coming" together. The idea that conservatism has anything to offer is anathema to the left.

    Meanwhile the Pro-choice folks at Planned Parenthood are happily helping with "sex-selective" abortions.

    Guess we'll soon be like those wondrous countries in the middle east where only male children are welcome. And my goodness, some of them are now finding it a bit of a problem to find wives for all those cherished sons. Go figure.

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    1. hey Kenoshamarge----nice to see you over here!!! Haven't heard from you in awhile!! Don't forget the sex-selective China in your equation either. I wonder if a lack of girls to marry will make those countries more militant in the end.....

      Since we're stuck in a right/ left world here in the U.S., what the right has to offer is women-----more of them, on both sides please. We're pathetic. Look at this article about women heads of state:

      http://www.filibustercartoons.com/charts_rest_female-leaders.php

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    2. Joshua W. BurtonMay 29, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      Women heads of state, by country.
      Women's overall status (justice, health, education, economic equality, political rights), by country.

      Not enough correlation here to get me motivated behind Benazir Bhutto or Tansu Ciller, or seriously upset about Sweden and Belgium (and the US) in the other direction. I'd like to see more countries in good colors on both maps, of course -- hundreds of women, yes, and billions of women too.

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  12. Joshua W. BurtonMay 29, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    More to the point, singling out the Middle East for sex selective abortions (which are illegal in all 22 Arab League countries as well as Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Israel) is nonsense, and sounds like racist nonsense. The Middle East has birth and overall child sex ratios that are considerably more female than the world as a whole. Their adult male surplus is appalling, but most of that is guest workers in the petroleum sector (see also: Alaska) and the rest uncovers a whole spectrum of nonpartisan feminist issues, from honor killings to health care, on which Planned Parenthood is fervently on the same side as (almost certainly) everyone reading here.

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    1. @ Joshua
      You may have had a point - but I'll never know because I quit reading your comment when you started slinging childish accusations of racism around.

      I know you are but what am I...
      Takes one to know one...
      He who smelt it calls people he doesn't even know racists if they disagree with him...

      etc etc etc

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    2. Joshua W. BurtonMay 29, 2012 at 8:15 PM

      Promises, promises -- at last report, you (Thia of twocynthia, yes?) already stopped reading me a year ago, not too far from this same area of concern actually. Guantánamo and Manzanar, remember? That was a piece of work; please don't spoil it now with gentle words and second chances. Any chance you could repost it somewhere?

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  13. No I don't know what you're talking about. But I guess I was right the first time. Thanks for reminding me.

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