Thoughtful Thursday – Mixed Messages

Image Courtesy of Microsoft Word Clip ArtSome of the local papers this morning are talking about the message of hope that Senator Obama brings to minorities. I wonder why none of them are talking about the message of futility that his nomination brings to a group that is a majority in number, but a minority in terms of power.

Wondering who I’m talking about? I’m talking about women. According to 2006 estimates from the U.S. census bureau, women account for 50.7 % of the population.

Want to know how many women have ever served in Congress as either Representatives or Senators? Click here for the list. According to the official Congressional website at, “Since 1917, when Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress, 244 more women have served as U.S. Representatives or Senators.”

How many women are currently serving in Congress? Click here for the list. According to the official website, “Eighty-nine of the 245 women who have served in Congress are current Members—74 in the House and 16 in the Senate.”

89 women out of 535 Representatives and Senators (click here for the breakdown on how many in each part of Congress.)

Doing the math, that means that roughly 17% of our Congress is female while women are 50.7% of the population.

I don’t know about you, but the political system seems like an Old Boys Network to me and the numbers are doing little to change that idea as is the recent experience with Senator Clinton. Before I continue, I want to make it clear that my intent is not to bash anyone or to support anyone. Rather, it’s a discussion on gender in politics in a very general sense.

Think about how many times the media referred to the emotions Senator Clinton showed on the campaign trail. I guess the point of that was to show that there’s no crying in politics?

Think about how many times Senator Clinton was referred to as Mrs. Clinton.

Think about how many times Senator Clinton was referred to as “Hilary.”

Going a little further with that last one, for those in office environments, ask yourself whether the men are generally referred to as “Mr. So-and-So” or by their first names. Then ask yourself how often women are referred to solely by their first names.

What does use of just a first name say? It’s definitely a sign of familiarity and you know that old saying about what familiarity brings. But when the men are Mr. and the women are familiar, isn’t that a subtle sign that one is on a higher level than the other?

Same thing with stripping the “Senator” title and using “Mrs.”. It’s a stripping way of the power behind the title. It’s a reduction in status.

Taking it to the next step. How many times have you heard that women have to work harder for less pay than a man in a comparable position?

So why is it that as a physical majority women lack political power? Or maybe you don’t agree with that and if not, I’d love to hear your take on things.

Just some thoughts for you to consider.

0 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday – Mixed Messages”

  1. Men wouldn’t be asked that question. Ithink it’s past time for a woman to be president. We think differently than men do about the issues, because we have to send our children off to war, we have to balance our family’s budget, shop, do the cooking and cleaning and work outside the home. We’re going to approach the big issues of war, economy, etc. differently.
    Traditional women’s career of nursing and teaching are paid lower and have a lower show of respect, because they are dominated by women. If they were male dominated, they’d be paid in the 6 figures!


  2. I was told by my female dean that we ‘superwomen’ thing we should be able to do everything and that I should decided which was more important – my job or my family. I didn’t even stop to think and replied that my family was most important. Her reply was, “Well, you made your decision!” Do you think this might have something to do with me not being promoted after that???

  3. Thanks for your comments, Fannie. Showing emotion is a sign of strength and not weakness.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is how often the media refers to what women wear, etc. and mention frumpiness and other things. Of course, why should women have to wear suits to be taken seriously? Another subtle form of sexism.

  4. I feel very strongly that women should have a bigger role in politics. The fact that they can show emotions is a signal of their strength. I also noticed that the media showed their lack of respect. It was “Senator Obama” and “Hillary” but then who ever accused the media of being fair to women. I must say though that the women in the media were just as bad. What a blow to us. I did notice that John McCain referred to her as “Senator Clinton” most of the time.Must be the age factor with him. Have a great day and hugs to all.

  5. Extremely valid points, ma’am.

    Our mistake was not leaving the kitchen sooner. Here’s to all those brave ladies who tried to leave in the past, though.

    Perhaps once the boys have all killed each other off in yet another war, women will take their rightful place in the government and society. It’s terrible to think that way, but it just may happen.

    Is that really what it will take?

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