This post originally appeared on PunditMom, printed with permission.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t make the cut for finalists in the Washington Post’s “Next Great Pundit” contest. I’m not quite sure why the Washington Post is doing such a thing. Last time I checked with Katie Orenstein from The Op-Ed Project, major newspapers didn’t exactly have a shortage of good opinion material to choose from — most submissions never even see the light of day because they receive so many.
But I figured that this contest was just made for me, even though the pessimist/realist in me knew it would be difficult to snag such a gig so easily. Turns out about 5,000 other people had the same idea I did, and, unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the ten finalists.
But I thought I’d share my entry with you anyway. It seemed a shame to let a good blog post go to waste! And who knows — maybe there’s another good punditry opportunity around the corner!
I just bought my nine-year-old daughter a “This is what a feminist looks like” T-shirt. When I explained that being a feminist means that girls can do whatever boys can, she gave me her best pre-teen eye roll and said simply, “Duh!” I love that she believes she can do or be anything, but lately right-wing conservatives are getting in my way on that message.
Right now she feels empowered in the way only fourth-grade girls can. I don’t have the heart to tell her that if she chooses a political career, she should prepare herself for the mocking and ridicule that seems to be the status quo today.
When my daughter proudly proclaims that she’d make a good President (and I think she would!), how do I explain that some won’t want her in that position and might, as the Republicans have done with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, speak condescendingly of “putting her in her place” in an effort to take her down a peg and minimize her effectiveness as a leader?
Those who dislike powerful women have plenty of choice words. Hillary Clinton is a shrew, Madeleine Albright has a turkey neck, and Olympia Snowe is a Benedict Arnold and a Jezebel for voting her conscience on health care reform rather than blindly following the mandates of her party. Even “good” GOP women like Sarah Palin and Meghan McCain haven’t been safe from the personal attacks of those who are threatened by the possibility of women encroaching on men’s perceived political space.
Even more troubling is that this growing disrespect toward women is finding its way into policy-making.
Senator Jon Kyl is against maternity benefits in health care reform because he doesn’t need them (though I’d like to hear what his wife and daughter have to say on that). And Senator Orrin Hatch wants to limit reproductive choice even in private policies that aren’t impacted by federal dollars. Conservatives have apparently decided that the new tactic in their playbook is to advance their political agendas by engaging in conduct they would never tolerate if hurled at them. That frightens me for my daughter’s future.
The last time I checked, Republicans have daughters, too. In light of this growing path away from women, I’m not sure how they go home at night and face those girls who probably have the same dreams as mine.
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This book gives insight into how a housewife with five children became the first female Speaker of the House in America.
It’s a fast easy read too. I always loved a good autobiography as a tween and teen. This book would be appropriate for a 5th grade reader and up. I tried to get Ainsley to give it a go, but Junie B. beckoned her instead.
What I liked best about Nancy’s retelling of her rise to power is that it wasn’t necessarily a rise to power. It was more like a gradual, softly stepping up where she was needed after her first priorities had been met.
She doesn’t talk about anxiously awaiting the time when her children were out of the house so she could finally make an impact on the world. Rather she acknowledges that making babies and growing children was the most fun, and most important thing, she felt she could be doing when she was a housewife.
She was an active Catholic and an active Democrat, participating in her local Democratic Party, which is where her rise to the most powerful woman on Capitol Hill began.
At the mundane Democratic meetings accepting positions like Library Board Member and behind the scenes Democratic Chair, first local and then national, positions.
Only when her oldest child was a senior in high school and told her mother to “get a life,” did she first run for a Senate seat. Twenty years later, with a hundred baby steps in between, she finally achieved Speaker of the House status.
I just like that story. I don’t know about you, but I often have to remind myself that I will have a long life after my children are grown up. There is no rush. Baby steps is how everything great is done. Enjoy this phase of my motherhood, because it is short and fleeting.
My husband and I took out daughter out of school one day last week and went to the court house to cast our votes. I’m an election judge this year so we voted early. (Early voting will also reduce complaining about the line.)
They will allow your child in the voting booth with you and you can show them how you go about choosing your candidates.
Ainsley and I have been going to vote together since she was two and we arrived at the government building and she said, “Where’s the boats? You said we were going boating.”
She’ll remember this year specifically because this year, we got to vote for Hillary Clinton. I also voted for her BFF’s mom, who was running for county attorney on my ballot (even though she wasn’t on my party’s ticket).
No matter who you’re voting for – take your daughter to the polls and show her one of the more effective ways for women to be powerful.
Democracy is what we make it through our participation. Teach her to participate.
I’m an election judge today – getting my Patriotic High – read more about it on Blog Fabulous.