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Where are the Women?

By John Martin - Posted on 08 June 2011

A big thanks to Anthony Weiner for keeping his withering career alive. It gives us all lots of time to reflect on just how stupid people in high places are capable of behaving.

As amusing as this story has been, it's yet another reminder of how irresponsible our elected officials can be. Over the past few years, we've had to hear about prostitutes, cash hidden in freezers, bribery, tax evasion, money laundering, secret families, tax evasion (again), mandatory staff tickle sessions, suggestive chats with underage congressional pages, wide stances, affairs with staffers' wives, and compromising self-taken photos (on two occasions). And that's just from members of Congress. Even worse-- that's just the ones we know about.

What all of these public servants have in common is that they're all men. Yes, women are not necessarily all saints, but they seem to behave a lot better when in positions of public trust. Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley may have cheated on their husbands (I don't know and don't care), but they're not dumb enough to leave behind proof and post it online. There are surely female politicians out there who are on the take, but zero come to mind. It sometimes feels like there's no limit to the number of guys who get elected and then immediately start filling their pockets.

This isn't about wanting to impose a certain moral code on anyone. This is about being concerned with elected officials who let stupid behavior become a major sideshow to their responsibilities. If Joe Citizen wants to take pictures of his shorts and send them across the interwebs, that's his problem. When a member of Congress behaves that way, it's everyone's problem.

The press isn't fair. They're more likely to be drawn to the most salacious story, not the most important one. Before someone decides to run for office, he or she needs to understand that. If they can't, maybe they shouldn't run.

But to my main point-- there are far too few women in politics in this country, especially at the federal level. The only woman running for President this year is a self-promoting lightweight. Even worse, the female bench is still a fraction of what it should be. Just 17% of Senators and House members are female. After a 30-year rise, the number of women in Congress has now seemingly leveled out.

I don't think women necessarily make better legislators or better leaders than men, but maybe their lessened propensity to make fools of themselves should start being a factor we consider when casting our ballots.

Interesting insight, John, and certainly no arguments from me.  :-)

First thing that this brings to mind is a speaker I heard during a luncheon for a professional organization.  He was an expert at prosecuting financial crimes (expert in that he WAS a prosecutor on many high profile cases).  Toward the end of his presentation he pointed out that every single financial crimes case had a common factor: they were all male criminals.

It made me wonder what it was about the socialization (or evolutionary) process that fosters that phenomenon. Haven't come up with an answer yet.

That said, I wish to point out that while women may be less public about indiscretions, we certainly aren't immune to other bouts with craziness... Michelle Bachman and Sheila Jackson Lee come straight to mind.  

Last point - While I completely disagreed with the choice of Sarah Palin as the 2008 VP candidate for many reasons, NONE of those reasons was because I felt "she oughta stay at home to take care of those kids."  I fought that argument then and I will continue to fight that mentality every time I hear or read it. 

Oh believe me, I realize there are some nutty ladies out there. And women are going to have their faults, of course. I just wonder how badly men have to screw things up before there's a general feeling out there that maybe we should start giving more women a shot at being in charge.
As long as these women are not named Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, or Michele Bachmann, I would certainly second that.

I truly fail to understand how politicians are unable to keep their sexual issues on the up-and-up, and/or to keep them to themselves.

No, I don't really want to hear about them, until it comes to dishonesty and/or abuse of power. But I still can't understand how they get into these situations to begin with. Is it just part of the personality and ego required to seek high office and power? 

(Not that I'm perfect, but I feel I outgrew most of the goofy and/or stupid stuff in my teens and maybe early twenties.) 

With the exception of extremists like Palin and Bachman who give women and women's issues a bad name, I would LOVE to see more women in American and international politics. I'm not saying they'd all be perfect, but they could certainly hide any personal "issues" much better than the men out there.

I know your post refers more to the judgement and common sense of women vs. men, but I'm going to expand the dialogue a bit. I personally think they would approach problems in whole different way. I was never a Hillary fan but I really admired her intellect and toughness when that grueling primary season was over! I had great respect for her after the first few debates just seeing such a solid of grasp of issues and clear evidence of studying problems and researching solutions. When I later compared it to Palin's debating "skills" I actually started to-dare I say-like Hillary. And I fully supported her as SOS and I think she is doing a great job. So Palin is responsible for my change of heart on Hillary!

I hope this does not sound sexist but I often wonder how the global dynamics might be different if more women had powerful roles in the world from the start. Would we have "solved" so much through war? Would we problem-solve more before extreme decisions were made? Would we focus more on poverty, health issues, education, and the environment? Would we be in so much debt? Come on, admit it, how many women do you know who are chanrge of household finances and the checkbook? I think the same way about my Catholic faith. Why on earth would they not allow women priests? I might actually go to confession if I knew I would be talking to a more nurturing figure instead of feeling like you are in a drive through confession and ordered to repent with 5 Hail Mary's but not really feeling better afterwards. We study early Native American tribes and I love how important the role of women was to the peace and harmony in everyday life.

Definitely something to think about. Great post and forgive my expanded thoughts if I drifted too far off topic.

History has shown that when it comes to political power, women are not all that different from men.

Of course, I believe that women and men aren't all that different to begin with outside of cultural conditioning, so it's really no surprise.


Some great quotes:

"Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good.  Luckily, this is not difficult."  ~Charlotte Whitton

"Can you imagine a world without men?  No crime and lots of happy fat women."  ~Nicole Hollander

"Women belong in the house... and the Senate."  ~Author Unknown


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