Archive for the ‘women in politics’ Category

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Breaking: Women scarce on Sunday talk shows

June 14, 2010

Politico has a long feature out today on the scarcity of women on Sunday talk shows.

According to research by American University’s Women & Politics Institute, female lawmakers have composed 13.5 percent of the total Sunday show appearances by all representatives and senators this year.

The suggestion that the Sunday shows are less hospitable to women has prompted a debate over who’s to blame among network producers, Capitol Hill political operatives and women’s advocates.

Some academic researchers and press secretaries for women in Congress say the network bookers have a men-in-suits mind-set that leads to familiar faces appearing over and over — and vital women’s voices being muffled on Sunday shows that historically are an important platform of Washington power.

The shows’ producers bridle at the criticism, saying that, despite their strong interest in booking more women, the shows must be topical and reflect the reality that men still hold more of the most influential and newsmaking positions in Congress.

To which I have to say: yeah! But this isn’t really new. This has been a problem a lot of people have been complaining about for years. I’ve written about it dozens of times. So have many other women. Media Matters did a study on it in 2007. So, I don’t think it’s particularly groundbreaking news to us; but at least, it’s encouraging to see a very mainstream, well-read publication like Politico devoting a full-length feature to this topic.

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New Lemondrop Post: Meet Congressional Candidate Krystal Ball

November 24, 2009

I first met Krystal Ball in August at  Netroots Nation. She walked into the room during our Youth Caucus and quietly sat down while people were making introductions. When it got to her turn, she announced that she was not here as a blogger: She was running for Congress in the First District of Virginia. And she’s just 27 years old.

Heads turned instantly. A 27-year-old running for Congress? And a woman? There has never been a woman under 30 in Congress. And that name!

I had the chance to catch up with Krystal recently and chat about her campaign and life in general. Aside from running for Congress, she’s married and has a baby daughter. It’s incredibly inspiring to see her take the political world head-on — especially when you consider how few women run for office (and even fewer young women run).

Read the rest of the interview at Lemondrop!

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Sarah Palin: Who Needs the WSJ When You Have Facebook?

September 8, 2009

Sarah Palin is not governor of Alaska anymore, she’s not a VP candidate anymore, no one even knows WHAT she is really doing these days and yet the woman. is. everywhere.

She supposedly resigned to get out of the limelight and get her life together, yet she’s continuing to push her healthcare agenda to anyone who will listen, through a variety of channels.

Tonight she penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Her Twitter account has been inactive since she resigned, but that’s okay — she’s all about Facebook now. She responds to major stories via Facebook notes. Like this one, penned in response to the controversy over the Associated Press releasing the photo of the dying Marine.

Really, it’s kind of fascinating to see how she is using Facebook notes as a primary communication channel. Who needs a blog when you can do that? Really, who even needs to place op-eds in the WSJ when you can write a Facebook note that will be read by roughly 860,000 fans?

She, like everyone else, can publish her thoughts instantly through a blog or Facebook note. But because she is Sarah Palin, she has rare and coveted access to the Wall Street Journal to publish her ideas there if she so desires — but does she really need it? Why wait for a paper to publish her thoughts when she can do it herself on Facebook, instantly, and with full control over her message?

What’s really telling is that she published the WSJ op-ed, but simultaneously copied and pasted the text of it into a Facebook note and re-posted it on Facebook.

So what does that say about the dwindling significance of the Wall Street Journal?

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Sunday Show Scorecard: Where are the women?

September 7, 2009

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday mornings is make coffee and plop in front of the TV for the Sunday show lineup: Meet The Press, This Week, Face the Nation, maybe even Fox News if I was feeling brave. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid, since my dad always had the Sunday shows on when I was little.

But lately I can’t help but notice how disappointing some of our Sunday show programming has become. A study from Media Matters for America shows that on average, Sunday show guests are 80% male.  The study was done in 2007, but really: how much has changed since then?

Yesterday, of the five major Sunday morning shows (Chris Matthews, Fox News Sunday, This Week, Face the Nation, and Meet the Press), there were a total of twenty-three guests.

Out of those twenty-three guests, how many were women?

Four.

So women still made up about 17% of yesterday’s guests on Sunday talk shows. (Also, coincidentally, women make up 17% of Congress….that’s for another post some day).

The more startling thing is that many of yesterday’s Sunday show panels were talking about the current hot topic around the nation: healthcare. Healthcare is an extremely important women’s issue — so why are there so few women being included in the conversation? Not that it is any less important to include women in conversations on, say, foreign policy and war, but with healthcare in particular there really is absolutely no excuse to leave women out of the conversation when you consider how much importance this issue has to women around the country, and how high the stakes are.

17% is abysmal. And it shows that almost nothing has changed since 2005, when the Media Matters study was conducted. The networks are still airing the same types of guests — and when they do seek out diversity, they have the same “token” women or token people of color (Juan Williams, for example, accounted for 99 of the 126 Sunday show appearances by an African-American in the Media Matters study).

So the question now is: what will it take to see real change out the networks, who have been doing the same thing for years?

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Quick Hit: Dana Milbank calls Secretary Clinton “mad bitch”

July 31, 2009

It’s late Friday afternoon, so I’ll keep this one short. But I wanted to call attention to an issue that may not get a lot of mainstream media attention, but is extremely important.

This afternoon, in a spoof video that’s part of a Washington Post series called “Mouthpiece Theater,” Dana Milbank , journalist for the Washington Post, suggested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, if she were to attend the Beer Summit, should drink “Mad Bitch” beer.

The full video is here (the comment in question is at about 2:35)

It’s totally in appropriate for journalists at the Washington Post to be calling the Secretary of State of the US a “mad bitch” simply because she’s a woman, and is another example of how sexism still exists in Washington.

Hillary Clinton is still one of the highest ranking officials in the American government and should be treated with a little more respect and class. And it’s disappointing that the Washington Post, a large, respected newspaper, would support these kinds of comments from their reporters. I hope the Washington Post and Dana Milbank comment on it soon.

If you’re on Twitter: please Tweet about it!

@Milbank What were you thinking? http://bit.ly/TpcVK Bad pundit theater! #wapofail #punditfail #sexistmuch #p2 #fem2

Update: Post apologized, video was pulled.

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Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination brings out subtle racism everywhere

May 26, 2009

President Obama announced his appointment of Sonia Sotomayor for the ninth seat on the Supreme Court bench yesterday morning, setting the interwebs and the cable news pundits on fire with something big to talk about all day.

Stuart Taylor at the National Journal is right in pointing out that this nomination is extremely shrewd because it puts the Republican Party in a tight spot. If they criticize Sotomayor for the things they most want to attack her for, they risk further branding themselves as the party of old white men. If they don’t attack her aggressively, they risk giving a victory to Obama and further weakening the party.

After Obama’s announcement, what followed was almost boringly predictable: all the news today has been dominated by talk about her race and gender. And though she was only nominated about 12 hours ago, her nomination has already brought race to the forefront of the public discourse — a topic we all normally like to avoid for the sake of our own comfort levels. Better to pretend race doesn’t exist, right? Right. Except now, it suddenly exists, more than ever. The fact that she grew up in the Bronx projects but graduated summa cum laude from Princeton and Yale Law School doesn’t exist, but the fact that she’s a Latina woman definitely does exist.

For instance:

–Glenn Beck says Sotomayor is a racist! (Does anyone else besides me see the irony in the fact that a panel of three white men are discussing whether Sotomayor is racist towards white men?)

–Senator James Inhofe thinks Sotomayor might allow ‘undue influence because of her own personal race and gender‘! (Oh my god, you’re right, because she’s a LATINA WOMAN and her opinions might be different from those of WHITE MEN, she’s automatically a bad judge) 

–Mike Huckabee calls her Maria  Sotomayor. Well, you know, all those brown people have such similar names. 

–Even Politico, however inadvertent, falls prey to some good old-fashioned racial stereotypes.

–The conservative Judicial Confirmation Network whines that “in Sotomayor’s court, the content of your character is not as important as the colour of your skin.”  That’s not a hypocritical statement to make about a minority judge at ALL…

The underlying assertion in all these subtle, or not so subtle, criticisms Sotomayor is that her race and gender make her less qualified to be a Supreme Court justice, because her race and gender might affect her decisions. Thus, following that logic, we should only pick jurists who don’t have any race or gender to cloud their decisions.

You mean to tell me white men are raceless and genderless and completely neutral? Why didn’t someone tell me that before?!

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Oops, I said the F-word

March 23, 2009

Feminism, that is. I get a lot of flack from people about being a feminist. Sometimes from men; sometimes also from other women. It seems women are often afraid to call themselves “feminists” because they don’t want to be viewed as crazy or radical.

I think the term has been hijacked from us, and we’re at the point where it is perceived as something totally different than what it truly means. I can say something about feminist bloggers at a table and get smirks — not even from guys, but from other women.

So I will say it once and for all: there’s nothing wrong with being a feminist. And there’s certainly nothing “radical” about wanting equal rights and equal opportunity for all. The notion that wanting such a thing would make you considered radical, crazy, or bitchy, is just plain nonsense.

If you are a woman who tries to disassociate yourself with feminism, I ask you: why? Is it because of all the negative connotations that come with the F-word?

We don’t hate men. We don’t think women should be superior to men. We don’t think all women should put their careers over family, or that no woman should be a stay-at-home mom. What we do believe in is that women should have options to do whatever they want with their lives, just like men. We believe in eradicating problems like wage gaps and gender discrimination, and we believe in pushing forward legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Law and the Family and Medical Leave Act which create equality for women and men.

It’s really not much more complicated than that, so I’m not sure why feminism gets such a bad rap.   You shouldn’t have to be ashamed of calling yourself a feminist.  If you are a woman who is afraid to call yourself a feminist, it might be time to get over it. Equality is kind of worth fighting for.