My buddy J sent me this article from the Huffington Post about the fact that the Democrats will lose their only two female governors this year with a poor chance of replacing them. Governor Bev Perdue of North Carolina and Governor Christine Gregoire are stepping down, and the article mentions a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in New Hampshire who has only a small chance of winning her election in November. That means that we will have 4 female Republican governors and no Democratic governors. Where is the uproar about this state of affairs?
I have written about this before ("When Will Women Rise Up?"), and many many of us regularly speak about this sad state of affairs on lots of blogs, among ourselves, and even occasionally in the MSM. But it is worth having another go at it. We women finding ourselves hopelessly divided and unable to use our power in numbers to effect any kind of meaningful change for ourselves. We have become hopeless and frozen, stuck in an odd sort of time warp that causes us to either be silent or war against one another.
The power structure loves where women are because we are so easily manipulated. In this year of "dog whistling," one of the favorite memes of journalists, talking heads, and Democrats trying to prove the racism of everyone who disagrees with them, women and their plight is completely off the radar screen. Honestly, I'd rather see the overt sexism of 2008 return than to have to deal with the current disinterest in women that is ubiquitous in 2012. It's almost as if we still have fatigue from trying to elect a couple of women to the top of the ticket from 2008, and our society is struggling to go back to "the way things were" before Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin had the temerity to think they could be president and vice president.
So once again we women will have to fight our way out of this lethargy to an unsure future for ourselves in the quest to become power players in a proportion equal to our numbers. To recap-----what is our plight? Our TRUE plight is that women run virtually nothing in this country. We hold 17% of Congress, although we hold 12% of the governorships, that number looks likely to shrink to 8%, we women still make 77 cents on the man's dollar regardless of how you want to spin it, we rank #70 in the world in female representation in government, 2.8% of Fortune 1000 CEO's are women (and you don't hear too much about them either), we've never had a woman president or a vice president (although we hold out some hope that Mitt Romney may actually take the plunge this year and put a Kelly Ayotte or Condi Rice on his ticket as VP). Women fare hardly better in other professions. Oh there may be a few professions where an argument can be made that women have reached a level of parity, but you'd be hard pressed to find many professions that way. Most women are mired in middle management with 18% being a number you see over and over again when creating statistics about where women really stand on the power grid.
The women of the Democratic and Republican parties are stuck in their own places unable to create a more successful political strategy to advance themselves. I've written about that too here and here. The Democratic women are stuck fighting divisive reproductive battles, fighting for things that will do little to advance parity. As a pro-choice Independent (although I registered Republican this year to vote in that primary, a quirk of Ohio law that doesn't reflect my true leanings), it seems to me that the rather esoteric logic used to defend that "nothing happens for women until they control their reproductive destiny" has boxed women's progress in.
Let's look at it another way. If women were to hold 50+% of the Congressional seats on both sides and maybe even a slot at the White House, the entire reproductive argument would end up on its ear because the kind of dialogue around this topic would most definitely change. Instead of demanding our reproductive rights, we should be demanding our right to an equal place at the table. And while I'm poking at sacred cows, let's talk about Planned Parenthood (PP). Let's get it straight----I love PP. I love what they stand for. I'm of the generation that remembers what brave pioneers that organization once was and I admire that spirit. HOWEVER, PP has become a real dead end for women as a political argument. The idea that someone is against women because they don't support government financing for PP is ridiculous. I honestly believe that if PP were cut loose from its government funding, they would find plenty of private funding to take up the slack. Of course that would mean more work for the organization, work which they seem to be unwilling to do. And as a side argument, one can look at PP as a case study in why once something receives government funding, it is eternal.
Anyways back to my unsacred argument here. Why should we women -----of BOTH parties I might add------who experience TRUE discrimination in the workplace be forced into mouthing platitudes about PP to prove our bona fides for women's rights? How is that good for the advancement of women into their deserved place as societal power sharers? And why can't the women on the Democratic side see that their collusion into keeping women tied up in reproductive issues has not only prevented women from advancing, it appears to have taken its toll on how many Democratic women governors we are about to have------and that number will be zero. We women are stuck in a place with no way out unless we choose to help ourselves and find a NEW way to fight our fight.
On the Republican side, there are glimmers of hope for women. But they are just glimmers. Sarah Palin's greatest achievement imho is that she awakened the women of the Republican Party and gave them permission to assert themselves. The Republican side has kept women silent by putting forth an argument that promoting "interest groups" is somehow un-American and anti-Republican. This argument has its merits on some levels, but when it comes to women, it has virtually silenced them making them unable to advance themselves in any meaningful numbers. But there is a corollary between Sarah Palin's emergence and the great strides women made on the Republican side in 2010. Where that will end up is anyone's guess. There has been major blowback to Palin within her own party. Check out the fight to get her a speaking spot at the upcoming Convention. Google the topic and look at the number of entries.......
I am truly sorry about the attrition in the numbers of Democratic female governors to possibly zero. But I am even sorrier that this awful state of affairs, coupled with the shrinking Democratic numbers of women in the Congress since 2010, won't be enough to wake up the women on the Democratic side that something different needs to be done to get more women into office. Until that happens, women will stagnate and it will be a very very long time until female parity is achieved. We need parity on both sides of the aisle. But the so called "party of women" seems to be unable to advance its own.