Please enjoy this digestible overview of important women and politics news - part of WCF's MsRepresentation project for the 2010 elections.
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As is customary on the Sunday before a national election, the major papers lead their coverage today with major pieces that both review the 2010 campaign season and preview what to expect from Tuesday's results. The question both the New York Times and the Washington Post lead with is obvious enough: Will Democrats hold onto Congress or will this year's Republican wave sweep in new GOP majorities?
In the primaries, many of the conservatives now running for office, such as Buck, Fiorina, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Rand Paul in Kentucky, and Sharron Angle in Nevada, played hard right to their base by emphasizing their opposition to reproductive health choices. The Democrats on the other hand, were pretty silent on sexual and reproductive health. Now, the Republican and Tea Party candidates can't stay far enough away from these issues in the general election, for fear of giving voters much more than just a Halloween fright, and the Dems can't stop talking about them.
Leave it to Salon's Rebecca Traister, newly-minted author of Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women, to pretty much summarize (and debunk) all the myths and misconceptions swirling around about women candidates, women voters and the 2010 election. The bullet points from today's must-read:
- There are more Republican women than Democratic women running in 2010.
- This year's female candidates are extra-stupid and extra-extremist.
- Female voters love female candidates.
- Candidates like O'Donnell, Angle and Bachmann are bad for women.
- 2010 is the year of the woman.
A second (yes, second) complaint of sexual harassment has been filed against Tom Ganley, the Republican congressional candidate for Ohio's 13th District. The first suit against Mr. Ganley, who, back in April, made clear he was no women's rights advocate when he asked constituents to filed by a former campaign volunteer.
OK, this morning's entry in the "you may want to sit down first before reading" category is the latest tired and untrue claim that feminism stifles the political debate because it boxes men (and some women) into a corner which prohibits them from criticizing female candidates. This time it's Suzanne Venker–co-author with Phyllis Schlafly of the forthcoming book with the sort of title (The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know–and Men Can't Say) designed to sell books to self-styled politically incorrect she-haters–playing the feigned outrage card in a New York Post commentary she closes with the line, "It's time for the men of America to man up and fight back."
In a very compelling HuffPo essay, Caroline Simard discusses research by Alex Haslam, Michelle Ryan, and their colleagues about the "glass cliff" phenomenon, in which women are selected for top positions precisely in precarious situations for which there is already a strong expectation of failure by anyone. That is, women are often assigned the tougher tasks—not on the expectation that they are better prepared to solve problems—but because they can more easily be scapegoated when intractable problems persist or worsen. The glass cliff effect thus reinforces stale notions that women are incapable of strong, successful leadership when, in fact, they were set up to fail in the first place.
MsRep has consistently stressed that the goose-gander standard applies to women candidates and negatives ads: That women candidates should be able to run tough ads and be the target of tough ads–so long as the attacks do not devolve into sexist depictions and tropes, of course. It's thus fair game for Republicans Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in California, and Linda McMahon in Connecticut, to go on the attack against their respective opponents. The only problem, as Salon's Adam Hanft points out, is that their ads aren't having their intended effect.
How many Daily Brief items the past two weeks have been of the "candidate using pro-choice stand to pillory opponent and make late electoral surge"? MsRep can no longer count, but whatever the total is add another: In the New Hampshire Senate race, Paul Hodes is highlighting his reproductive choice credentials as a late ploy to get women out to vote for him. And in Florida, Alex Sink, bidding to become that state's first female governor, held a Women for Alex rally with the same objective in mind. Ditto for story about Washington's 8th District US House race, where WCF-endorsed Suzan DelBene and Dave Reichert are battling for the attentions of women candidates.
The stream of academic research about women and politics continues unabated. Jennifer Lawless, director of American University's Women & Politics Institute, discussed the 2010 election in the context of her new co-authored book, It Still Takes A Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office.
Jodi Jacobson writes a heartfelt, thought-provoking piece in RH Reality Check about her political journey, and where she finds herself today.
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Today's Brief was made possible by Kim Oxholm.
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