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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Women in Congress Does Not Mean Less Gridlock in Washington

More Women in Congress Does Not Mean Less Gridlock in Washington

"Exhilarated by the record number of women elected to both the House and Senate in 2012, giddy commentators have begun suggesting that increased representation by females could cure the poisonous polarization in Washington and repair the broken institutions of our government. A more sober, comprehensive analysis, however, reveals no historical or logical basis to assume that the much heralded influx of female politicos means an automatic improvement in the dysfunctional performance of the legislative branch...

“Would More Women in the Senate Mean Less Gridlock?” Judith Warner claims that a majority of females, (as opposed to the 20 percent now seated in the “world’s greatest deliberative body”), would automatically bring less “partisan grandstanding as their majority male colleagues.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) insists that had women been running the Congress there would have been no “fiscal cliff” since “we don’t believe in the culture of delay.” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told an approving Diane Sawyer on ABC TV that women in politics are “less confrontational” while Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), never known as the shy, accommodating type herself, said they are more effective because “we’re less on testosterone”...

None of these happy pronouncements cited examples of this sort of collaborative, constructive female legislative leadership in either the recent or distant past. In her short-lived speakership, for instance, Nancy Pelosi achieved a reputation for many things, but “working across the aisle” wasn’t one of them: she won not a single GOP vote for either the stimulus package or the Obamacare reforms...

It’s worth remembering that one of the most polarizing and truculent of all legislators of the past 50 years, noted for frequent verbal abuse of both colleagues and staff, also happened to be a feminist icon: Bella Abzug, the big-hatted harridan from the Borough of Brooklyn.

Around the world, some female politicians have won praise for their heroic leadership in times of danger and discord, like Britain’s Margaret Thatcher or Israel’s Golda Meir. But neither of these fierce, formidable ladies earned recognition for a collaborative, nonconfrontational style, and both found themselves forced from office by disgruntled dissidents in their own parties. Other women who have led major governments became notorious for ferocious, uncompromising, often disastrously willful leadership, like India’s Indira Gandhi or Argentina’s currently embattled President Cristina Kirchner—hardly exemplifying the collaborative, accommodating approach so lavishly praised by estrogen-is-the-answer advocates.

In today’s domestic politics, mainstream media also prove shamelessly selective in applying their female supremacist approach. While suggesting that more women in Congress would automatically clean up the D.C. mess, few commentators seem to have in mind more House members such as the staunchly conservative Michele Bachmann or more senators, or potential senators, like Alaska’s Sarah Palin—who reportedly is mulling a 2014 challenge for a seat currently occupied by shaky Democrat Mark Begich.

Critics maintain that politicians like Bachmann and Palin, not to mention trounced GOP Senate candidates Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in 2010, don’t count as authentically female since they reject the progressive outlook that characterizes most American women.

That argument, based upon the famous “gender gap” in all recent elections, applies only to single females and not to those who are married. Exit polls show that the crucial Democratic edge with women voters is entirely an edge with single voters, since the majority of married women (who are nearly 60 percent of all female adults) regularly prefer Republicans. Women who are married may well prove less likely to feel the need for activist government and potential public aid than women facing life’s challenges on their own. In 2012 married women gave a comfortable 7 percent edge to Mitt Romney, and in 2008 they chose John McCain 53–47 percent. In 2004 married females went even more decisively (55–44) for George W. Bush.

The heavily Democratic leanings of the women in Congress—only a third of the ladies in the House and a fourth of those in the Senate align with the GOP—don’t so much reflect the outlook of women in general as they do of the single-female minority, a minority amounting to only 23 percent of the overall electorate that chose Barack Obama in 2012 by a ratio of better than 2 to 1, and assured him the presidency...

The predominance of married, multitasking, upper-middle-class supermoms among the most prominent women officeholders gives the lie to the notion that female candidates automatically express the interests of a powerless, downtrodden segment of society previously unrepresented in the corridors of power. The lady senators may share political opinions with the single women who elected them, but they hardly share life experiences. Like most of the conspicuously successful individuals of both genders in every field, they for the most part enjoy stable, conventional family lives and strong educational backgrounds."


This is a critique of the "women are saints" school of feminism.

Of course, there're comments bashing the author - mostly because he's male (and conservative). Virtually no one bothered to rebut his points.
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