After my keynote at the AAUW national convention last Sunday, I overheard an attendee tell her friend about the graphic I’d used of a hot dog with “No More” written in mustard on it. I didn’t have to say a word when I put the graphic on the screen for the entire audience to start laughing at the shared awareness that I was referencing now-former NY Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-Stupid). And that by implication I was referencing the fatigue and disgust so many people feel about the seemingly unending waves of philandering politicians who thus far have been almost entirely male.
This has raised much commentary pro, con, and confused regarding the question of whether greater parity for women in politics would make things better, and that leads inevitably to the question of whether there are any inherent gender differences.
So taking a cue from No Excuses Power tool #4, EMBRACE CONTROVERSY, this controversial theme is an opportunity to have that discussion while the country is paying attention to the value (or not) of having more women in politics. (Let me stop here and invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below, before I offer some of the most thought provoking links of the week.)
This NPR article titled “The End Of Gender” addressed the biggest picture questions and I found it great food for thought.
From Media Matters comes this analysis of a scene on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives when 14 of the the 24 Republican women serving in the House claimed “the Republican agenda is indeed pro-women.” As the Media Matters piece points out, “The claim would have been more compelling had they not spent their first six months in the majority focusing on making abortions less accessible, changing the definition of rape, and cut funding for women’s health care.”
So what difference did it make in this case that these women are in Congress?
One guest blogpost by Jodi Lustig on my Heartfeldt Blog this week posits that gender does matter.
The Barbara Lee Family Foundation has put out a new report that suggests the public at least does trust women candidates more than males in the wake of the not just the sex scandals but also the financial meltdown and goodness knows what else. You can download it here —please tell us whether you agree.
And finally but perhaps most importantly, look at how the U.S. Supreme Court votes came down on Wal-Mart v Dukes, the class action suit won on technicalities by the behemoth retailer and see if you think gender made any difference. This ruling was a set back not just for women but for any aggrieved group of people who don’t hold the power of financial might but might well hold the power of social right.
My friends at She Negotiates quoted me extensively in this Forbes.com piece about what Wal-Mart should do to embrace the controversy in a productive way as a consequence of the public discussion about the ruling. But then, you know, I always see the pony.