Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sexism - Politics

Women candidates have been in the forefront this election year – first with Hillary Clinton running for the Democratic Presidential nomination and now with Sarah Palin nominated as the Republican Vice-Presidential choice.

The visibility of women in the political process is very positive for women for two reasons.  First, it raises the public debate about what is sexist, and second, it offers the potential of having women’s policy issues debated and addressed.

Let me talk about sexism first.  Some statements are clearly sexists such as a heckler shouting “iron my shirts” to Senator Clinton as she was campaigning.  And some statements are clearly not sexist such as any candidate using the expression “…putting lipstick on a pig” when referring to another candidate’s policies.  Sexism is very prevalent in our political and business dealings and a serious issue that hurts women of all ages.  Twisting it for political gain belittles the issue and at a minimum is a cynical attempt to manipulate the vote of women.  Understanding what is sexist and what isn’t is important to us.

What about asking a women with young children how she will handle being Vice President when reporters don’t ask male candidates that question? What about accusing women candidates of being “strident” or “shrill” or fawning over them because they are “cute” or “perky”.  How are women running for office supposed to be both likeable and tough?  The beauty of Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket is that it has silenced the conservative commentators.  All of a sudden being the mother of a pregnant unwed teenager is not a reflection of the mother.  Perhaps now we can put families off limits for the petty, vicious snipping that television passes off as news.

But let’s talk about the real issues women care about.  What does the candidate, male or female, stand for?  What policies will he or she support?  As a woman, I would like to see more women in political life because I hope they will bring a sensitivity to the job founded in their life experiences – that they will support policies that help people who raise children and care for elders, who cannot afford health care and who have no place to live.  I am not so naïve as to think that just because you are a woman you will support the OWL agenda and hopefully women generally don’t believe or vote that way.  The true test of a candidate is whether they care about the issues you care about and will support the solutions you believe in.

So in this year of “women rising” let our voices be heard for what we believe in:  access to high-quality, affordable health care, economic security, and dignity and respect for people of all ages and abilities and of course regardless of your gender.

Ellen A. Bruce, President

OWL National Board of Directors 

1 comment:

Lilo Hoelzel-Seipp said...

I believe that most OWL members are already retired and will be surprised and saddened by the quarterly reports which will be arriving any day.
How will the retired membership ever recover given the average life expectancy before us all.
As the nesteggs are shrinking how will we all be able to manage the financial burden as we are getting older and expenses are rising?