Politics, politics, politics!

by d
Jezebel has a list of the 10 Lowest Moments For Women in Politics This Year (So Far). It’s a mix of men being rude to women, and women doing stupid shit. (Oh, Palin, Bachman, Angle and Fiorina, you do drive me crazy.)

On the other hand, Oklahoma and New Mexico will both electing a female governor this year. Governor is the highest state position, and this is only the third and fourth times, respectively, that two women have secured their parties’ nominations, for an all-woman race. (We have ‘third parities’ in the US, but no one takes them seriously.)

Compare that to CAWP’s list of woman-versus-woman U.S. House races, and the difference is striking. In 2008 alone there were 10 races in which a woman was assured a seat in the House of Representatives. And since 1944, there have been a total of 114 such contests, not including the four woman-versus-woman 2010 House races at last count. Clearly, women are more likely to run for, and win, House and Senate seats than find themselves in their state’s executive office. There are currently six female governors, or 12% of the total; meanwhile, 17% of both the U.S. House and Senate are women. (Of course, there were eight female governors until Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas left for the Obama administration and Sarah Palin decided to quit her job.) (Washington Post)

When I heard about these woman vs. woman races, I thought, “Huh, lets see how much focus is on their hair and clothes now!”

Then I saw the Jezebel post:

Yesterday, we learned that voters were polled on whether Barbara Boxer or Carly Fiorina has better hair. Even without the 2008 election’s bombast (Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin), the past year has been rather rocky for women in politics. Some lowlights:

1) Public Policy Research’s question about the really important stuff in the California Senate race had its own illustrious background: Carly Fiorina being caught on camera calling Boxer’s hair “so yesterday.”

I knew about Fiorina’s comments, but now we have to do a poll? For really? The follow-up from Talking Points Memo [ is slightly mollifying.
We asked PPP [Public Policy Polling] communications director Tom Jensen what the reasoning was behind the hair question.”Well, because Carly Fiorina had insulted Barbara Boxer’s hair. It was asked because of that. It’s not something we would normally ask, but Carly Fiorina made Barbara Boxer’s hair into a bit of an issue and it was something that got a week’s worth of media coverage”

Why was the question phrased in the particular manner that it was, we asked? “I think the whole story was silly, so we asked a silly question. I mean we weren’t trying to turn it into a really serious thing.”

Jensen also pointed out that in January 2008 they asked South Carolina voters who was the sexiest presidential candidate, and also asked New Jersey voters last October whether then-Gov. Jon Corzine (D) was making an issue of his (eventually victorious) Republican opponent Chris Christie’s weight, and whether Christie’s weight was a legitimate issue.

“So what we have done is when we ask these appearance questions, most voters don’t have much of an opinion,” said Jensen, also adding: “Every now and then it’s interesting to just throw it in there and see what response you get.”

The sting in the tail is that a clear majority of Californians prefer Boxer’s hair. -1 from Fiorina, who’s already lagging.
I’m not the only one pissed about this whole ‘Hairgate’ thing. Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post is straight to the point.
No no no no no! It does go with the territory that women in politics have more attention paid to their appearance than male candidates. It doesn’t go with the territory that one candidate — female or male — gets a free pass for dissing an opponent’s looks.

For heaven’s sake, John Edwards got in hot water during one debate for joking about Hillary Clinton’s choice of jacket. The point of having women in politics was not to produce a “Mean Girls” sequel in the form of the California Senate race.

So what I was going to write was a lot cheerier. It wasn’t just about how many women won on Tuesday: Fiorina and Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman in California; Sen. Blanche Lincoln against the pundit-decreed odds in the Arkansas Democratic primary; probable GOP gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley in South Carolina; Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle in Nevada. It was about how the typology of female candidates has changed even as the phenomenon of being a female candidate has diminished in importance.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of PTA moms — they’re not just PTA moms anymore. Or widows and daughters of male politicians. Fiorina and Whitman are former chief executives of major companies (Hewlett-Packard and eBay, respectively). Lincoln is an incumbent senator. Haley broke some kind of gender barrier as a female candidate for major office caught up in an alleged sex scandal. Angle seems like a nut, but at least a self-made nut.

Urgh, Angle.
If anyone wants to talk seriously about the economy, the BP oil spill, and immigration reform, I’ll be over here.

3 Comments to “Politics, politics, politics!”

  1. Oh, Angle IS a nut. I’ve seen an article yesterday, however, that mentioned she had dropped 7 or 11 points. Which makes me happy. She’s softened her rhetoric so that people hopefully forgets what she’s really for, at least until she gets elected. Then we’ll be reminded.

    Its beyond ridiculous that we’re having issues over which candidate’s hair is better. What’s that got to do with the ability to perform the duties the office entails? NOTHING.

    However, it does generally seem to be the candidates themselves who often start these things (at least when they’re taken “seriously.” Men like Rush Limbaugh are generally ignored when saying similar things except to be told they’re sexist) and I think that’s because women best know how to upset other women. From the time we’re little, we hear insults about how we look in various different ways from our peers, usually other girls.

    Either way, this has no place in politics and I expect the women who are IN politics and who are running for these seats to be more mature than to resort to personal insults. Especially ones that sound as if they came out of the high school girl’s locker room.

  2. The truth is we need to start a hair revolution. Like, that’s the only thing women care about. Hair.

    And my ‘fro will eat anyone’s. Om nom nom. Jokes aside, I agree with you all the way.

    • Stop complaining about your hair, Roxy, its beautiful. xP Although, I do love your “om nom nom” visual. At least, for me its a visual. xP It makes me giggle, the images it gives me.

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