Bella Abzug (D-NY, 1973-77) famously stated, “This woman’s place is in the House- the House of Representatives.”. Apparently America agrees more now than ever because January 2013 saw a record number of females sworn into both the House and the Senate. In total 101 across both chambers of the new 113th Congress were women – 20 in the Senate and 81 in the House presented a progressive and comforting tonality as the oath of office was administered by Vice President Joe Biden. Still I am troubled that there is still an awe struck denotation that so many women are in the United States D.C. legislative body … should not 2013 mean that is the norm and not some WOW factor? As my followers/readers are quite aware of by now – I am a unabashed feminist; my last blog post, Atlas with a Vagina [31 December 2012] and others prior detail my determination about and concern with the state of XX chromosome in all arenas. None-the-less, my heart was gladdened to see so many of my gender in the photo (shown here) celebrating becoming a part of this great nation’s lawmaker process this month in Washington D.C.. Still we need to examine the REAL history of women in U.S. national politics – it did not start recently and it must be furthered in the future – men and women alike should champion inclusion of both sexes in the magnificence of what our Founders saw as a unique peoples Republic, in order to have a REAL democracy that thrives and prospers for all Americans.
1916 saw the first woman serve in our United States House of Representative – that was when Jeannette Rankin of Montana took office. Four years after Rankin won that election the 19th Amendment was ratified – finally giving women the right to vote nationally. In 1922 Rebecca Felton of Georgia became the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. Between 1935 and 1954, thirty-six women entered Congress … this America depression and war year’s period, followed by the post WWII upheaval in our nation’s fabric, presented many challenges for women lawmakers but they prevailed and helped guide and sustain our nation. The era 1955-1976 was tumultuous and life altering for all Americans – it ushered in phenomenal changes and a new brand of female politician that included the wonderful first African American lawmaker, Barbara Jordan. More modern times gave us Geraldine Ferrara [also first female Vice Presidential candidate who I had the honor of meeting during that Mondale campaign], Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, our dear brave Gabby Gifford and first Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi to name just a few woman in Congress. Almost 100 years of D.C. female presence as lawmakers – so why are we in 2013 still struggling to get women elected to Congress or the White House? As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details” – I REALLY believe that not only male chauvinism, misogynistic attitudes but equally my own gender’s reluctance to own our ambitions for a political life is why there is still, in 2013, such awe and OMG attitude about the 101 females in the 113th Congress. The issues must be examined, dealt with and thwarted that are keeping us gals from being the norm in all legislative bodies – at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
My writing makes clear that I do not indulge in the “damsel in distress” persona – it gets one nothing but temporary compassion and never results in REALLY important outcomes. A woman needs to be an equal partner – willing and able to pull her own weight and hold down the fort in a singular and determined fashion. We women insult our men by attempting to utilize our feminine ways to get support or be cared for – this is often unintentional or inadvertent but no matter the etymology, the end game is we females lose out because no REAL gain is had by being a less than an equal person. My strong feminist opinion relates to politics in that often the elected female is what I term a “mommy politician” … you know the type – the women who runs for office on account of some single child or family oriented issue. Not that there is anything wrong with that impetus but far too often there is no REAL ideal of wanting to be in elected office for the same reasons men give – which is because we want it bad and we desire to be engines of major change in legislative offices. No pause nor hesitation about goals should deter females from full throttle attempts to run for elective office – we women must take gender out of our life plan equation and that includes plotting a future in politics.
In her book Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives, psychiatrist Anna Fels astutely explains that women need to actively imagine their own destiny as so little is mapped out for them by society. I was blessed with parents who made clear all things were possible – no gender indication because I was their daughter; in fact that sort of nonsense of delineating by gender as to what my tasks and accomplishments were to be was not tolerated. Another book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, by Gloria Feldt, the former director of Planned Parenthood suggest that because girls are socialized to be reactive rather than proactive they grow up to be women not use to asking for what they want. I REALLY am concerned that we women wait for and very much need affirmation in order to overcome obstacles and push forward to our goals – listen folks, while affirming comments are quite nice and I admit to being thrilled that I get more than my fair share of complimentary comments, I do not depend on it to motivate me. Damn the flatteries – know thy self and go for it is my motto. Why any woman would think the men in our life want to spend their valuable time and energy coddling us at every turn in order to get results at home, in the workplace or anywhere else is beyond me – that being said, nothing I have accomplished would have been easy without my dear erudite father, my supportive feminist husband, my best friend – a guy, my many other male friends and colleagues but they all realized I could and I would do the heavy lifting no matter what circumstances were present. Trust me – more than once I have been rescued by my guys but I have often been the rescuer as well; likewise, my gal pals and I have rescued one another. Oh my – dear “sisters” – please grow up – be all that you can be and never ever let your gender be the reason for not succeeding. There REALLY is no valued currency in being submissive – feigned weakness is not attractive. Do not tolerate discrimination but neither allow nor promote it by your own feminine posturing. Let us look forward to the day when no specification of the sex of members in Congress will be so important as to make bold headlines in my beloved New York Times!
P.S. In my end 2013 memoir, Heiress Mommy … A Modern Super Woman Life! my own lifelong political involvement and an actual run for office will be explained in REAL detail. Additionally, I have been asked to develop/work on a series of novels that grew out of an NPR 3 Minute Fiction Contest I entered last fall … while not winning, my Potus Tara Edward-Saks™ fictional U.S. President got attention – hubby and I trademarked the name/idea and now I am working on the story of our first female Jewish POTUS [yes my darlings, The Miscreants™ will be included - their delusional low thinking minds apparently believe strong women who are REALLY making a success in life (like myself & many of my readers) are "narcissistic" - psychologist advise me that is on account of their self loathing & jealously ... oh well, stay tune for many more REAL facts about these ridiculous insignificant characters]!