Copyright © 2008 Henrietta W. Hay
August 1, 2008
I keep hearing that there is no gender bias in the current election campaign
media coverage. Will somebody please tell that to the Washington Times?
That paper covered a political rally in Michigan recently. In their reporting of the affair, they described it as a "testosteronefest" and as a "girlie show."
Oh yes, they were a referring to a political discussion between Jennifer
Grandholm, Governor of the state of Michigan and Michelle Obama, attorney and wife of a candidate for president of the United States - hardly a pair of oversexed college girls.
In the eighth year of the 21st century one might expect to find words like these to be obsolete. But no. They were in the Washington Times, one of the top newspapers in Washington D.C. and, not surprising, a leading voice in the conservative establishment. The article barely mentioned the economy, the topic of the discussion.
Certainly huge strides have been made in the development of women's rights, in spite of the setbacks. But this story reminds us again that we still have a long way to go.
I have been involved in the second feminist movement since it began in the 70's and have watched its progress. We remember what it was like back then.
In fact, we can go way back. Even Socrates had something to say about it. "By all means marry. If you get a good one your life will be happy. If you get a bad one you will become a philosopher."
Molly Ivins came up with a couple examples of discrimination that did beat the Washington Times. In 1890 the Texas Legislature raised the age of sexual consent for a woman from 7 to 10. And until 1918 the Texas constitution said that all Texans had the right to vote except for "idiots, imbeciles, aliens, the insane and women."
Today things are better -- well, sort of. Periodicals can make fun of women (and men) without discriminating.
And women are getting into politics. We came oh so close to getting a woman president. And how I wish we had.
We have 16 women in the Senate, 11 Democrats and 5 Republicans. In the House there are 52 women, 32 of whom are Democrats and 20 Republicans. The Speaker of the House is a woman, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. That does tell us something about party attitudes.
When I was playing college basketball, back in the thirties, the women's gym floor was divided into three sections. One section was for guards, one for centers and one for forwards. We were considered too delicate and certainly not strong enough to play like the men, and run the length of the floor. Today Title 9 has freed women and girl athletes. They excel in all sports they enter and are all primed for the Olympics. (For the record, I got my golden "C" 70 years later.)
Back in the 19th century Susan B. Anthony wrote, "Woman has shown equal devotion with man to the cause of freedom and has stood firmly by his side in defense. Together they have made this country what it is. We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all civil and political rights that belong to the United States be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever."
No, we are not there yet, Susan.