Why Do We Still Focus on Gender Rather Than on Qualifications in Politics?

After the recent Tuesday primaries across the nation, it appears that a record number of women are poised to emerge as political victors.  Wins by many women are cause for celebration, aren’t they? Some are angry that qualified candidates are still distinguished by their gender. If this is such a remarkable fact, isn’t it a sign that feminism has far to go?

The truth is that women are poorly represented in American politics.  The 111th Congress included a record number of women.  Ninety-five were women, but only 21 of those representatives were Republicans. 

While some argue that the Republican Party has historically neglected to support and elect women, it seems that the Tea Party has really attracted many conservative women. 

Let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton was a strong candidate for President in 2008 and Sarah Palin had an energizing effect on the McCain campaign when he asked her to run with him as Vice President.  Both women are feminists, yet they are from different political parties.

Sarah Palin has been frequently using the word feminism in recent speeches and it’s drawn some controversy because she doesn’t share the traditional feminist’s views on abortion rights.  Many argue that pro-life feminism is the future. 

Conservative feminism is not an oxymoron. Feminism is not a political party distinction.Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s feminism became synonymous with man-hating, bra burning and abortion rights.  That is why many modern women have been so reluctant to embrace the term.  Feminism has evolved. 

Women’s roles in the workplace have greatly changed over the past 40 years. Particularly in today’s economy, many women are now the primary bread-winners in homes across America. 

Still, there is a vast discrepancy between the amount women and men earn. According to an April 20, 2010 article, Why Do Women Still Earn Less Than Men? in Time magazine by Laura Fitzpatrick, “U.S. women still earned 77 cents on the male dollar in 2008, according to the latest census statistics.  That number drops by 68% for African Americans women and 58% for Latinas.”  This impacts most American families and it is not something that can be necessarily legislated.

Today’s women have many choices.  Some work full time outside of the home, many opt to be stay at home parents and still others do a combination of both.  The fact that we have these choices is a reality due to the women’s liberation movement.  The fact that there is still such an inequality of pay between men and women is the reason that feminism is necessary.

Rather than marginalize the free-thinking woman who disagree that abortion is fundamental to feminism, modern feminists embrace the ideal of promoting respect for women, equal opportunities and equal pay.  It does not preclude a person from being a feminist.

There is a rising pro-life sentiment among American women and it cannot be ignored. Feminism is not a party distinction.   

Public opinion polls are often taken to measure the pulse of Americans and this new sentiment has become evident in polls.  According to Colleen Carroll Campbell’s Washington post article, “Pro-life feminism is the future” from last month, “A 2007 study from Overbrook Research tracked the abortion views of women in Missouri, considered to be a bellwether state on such issues. Researchers found that the share of Missouri women identifying themselves as ‘strongly pro-life’ rose from 28 percent in 1992 to 37 percent in 2006, with the ranks of the ‘strongly pro-choice’ shrinking from about a third to a quarter of Missouri women. This pro-life shift was even more pronounced among young women.”

Campbell’s article also sites a more recent study.  A May 2009 Gallup Poll, “proved that, for the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1995, a majority of Americans now identify themselves as ‘pro-life’ rather than ‘pro-choice.’ Gallup found a significant rise in the percentage of young adults who believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, from about one in seven in the early 1990s to one in four today. Eighteen-to-29-year-olds are now tied with seniors as the group most likely to favor the outlawing of abortion.”

Feminism no longer has the negative connotation it once did.  Today’s feminists don’t hate men, they love them and want to co-govern, co-work and co-parent with them. 

Women have made great strides in the home, workplace and public eye.  Yet, politics remains clouded by a male bias which critical thinkers should be able to see past.


One thought on “Why Do We Still Focus on Gender Rather Than on Qualifications in Politics?

  1. Lady leaders have more than “choice” to consider. They need to influence.

    Partisan politics has nothing to do with commonsense, only politics, as it pertains to influence over money, worldwide. Do I think women are influential, yes. Do I think that a majority of male world leaders can be influenced by a woman? No, not permanently. Women are equal humanbeings, “help-mates” not the head of the familyor of nations.
    They could nurture a nation beyond the comprehension of greed, but might hesitate
    at decisively destructive decisions.

    The world is looking for and needs, a benevolent male leader. Jesus was a man, High Priests were men, and so was every Pope. Why? Because, men take life and women are givers of life.

    Leaders at times, have to lead a minority of their people to death in order to save or improve the lives of the majority. This is, and will always be the way of this world. It is inappropriate for a giver of life to assume a role that takes lives.

    Even when women have held the highest office of their countries such as: Golda Meir of Israel (from Milwaukee), Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain, and other female leaders from Switzerland, Germany, Ukraine, India, etc… It will always be men that do most of the dirty work. Even when women volunteer for battle it is inappropriate for them to take life. They should nurture and heal life, instead. This advice is Biblical, not chauvenistic, and my critical view.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s