We are always taught that you need to grab opportunity when it knocks on your door because it may not come back another time. We women are missing or may have already missed a golden chance to really advance our agenda to achieve more power parity. And we have missed it because we have taken our eye off the ball.
It almost bores me to write this piece because I have been railing about these ideas for such a long time. When I got started caring about the advancement of women in the late 60's and early 70's, we women were pretty clear about what we wanted and we were more united in advancing that agenda. We wanted freedom to be all we could be, we wanted to shatter all of the existing glass ceilings that we confronted wherever we turned, and we wanted to take our own destinies into our own hands. It was understood that we women would support one another in our quest to be CEO's, Supreme Court justices, to take our place at the power tables everywhere, and to be President of the United States.
But it turned out that the devil was in the details. As we started to gain what we desired, we experienced a huge split in the battle over abortion. Our potential for power was severely weakened as that great struggle played itself out and shattered our unity of purpose. We made gains at work and in school. Laws were amended and new laws were passed to clear the way for more equality and opportunity. We began to live the lives our mothers only dreamed of.
Along the way, we thought we were making gains that we weren't actually making. The entire women's agenda began to be exploited by both political parties. Much lip service was paid to keeping women in the fold depending on the parties' positions on abortion. We women stopped asking for anything else. What a mistake we made!!!!
We now face the fact that women hold little to no power in the United States. 16.8% of our U.S. Congress is made up of women. The U.S. ranks #80 in the world in female representation in government. 3.4% of Fortune 1000 CEO's are women. 12% of governors are women, of the 100 largest cities 8% have women mayors, 24.5% of state legislators are women, 5 states have never sent a woman to Congress (Iowa, Vermont, Delaware, North Dakota, Mississippi). Women are STILL only making 77 cents on the man's dollar. Although a case can be made that women are gaining, just not at the "tippy top," it is at the tippy top where all of the critical decisions are made, and women are very scarce in those places.
We women used to ask for things that could matter. What are we asking for now? Nothing really. We have outsourced our desires for advancement to groups who have become entrenched and calcified and are incapable of pivoting to focus on why women aren't holding more power. These groups have convinced the men in power that they only need to pay lip service to a very very narrow agenda in order to make we women happy. It is so insulting really. But we women haven't become apoplectic enough to finish the job we started in the 60's.
What got me started on this rant once again was the reminder at the presidential debate last night that Mitt Romney promised to have a gender neutral cabinet when he was campaigning for governor of Massachusetts, and once elected he delivered. It's a magnificent story really because when he was running, the women's groups in Massachusetts got together and decided to challenge both candidates to promise to appoint a gender neutral 50/50 cabinet if elected. Watch this great video telling the whole story:
Why aren't we making these kinds of requests again? It seems to me that if women made a big fuss out of a gender neutral cabinet, both candidates would acquiesce to the demand. And it would be a highly important symbol to all. Instead we feminists are in the rather disgusting position of letting people other than ourselves define what we want. Whatever happened to the brave bold women who knew what they wanted and went out and got it? Whatever happened to our lack of tolerance for hypocrisy that masquerades as feminism? I try not to make these kinds of statements on this blog because this blog is NOT about bashing President Obama, it's about about finding a way to help women achieve parity at the top. But let's face it. Our president parades around as a feminist touting Lily Ledbetter as the sine qua non of feminism while at the same time underpaying the women on his staff----a practice that can be even traced back to his days in the Senate as well. I remember a time when we women wouldn't have let this situation go on. we wouldn't have put up with it. What has happened to us?
Well, I am once again tired and bored, but I am far from finished on this topic. I was told, and I only have anecdotal evidence, that in 2008 when women approached the Obama campaign about asking him to promise to have a gender neutral cabinet, that it was a no go. It would not be a no go if massive numbers of women insisted on it.
Sigh------am I the only person out there who cares about this stuff? I think not. Maybe we should get a head start and in January start building demand for a gender neutral cabinet in time for the 2016 campaign........