The Washington Post Better Pick a Girl!

The Washington Post ran an America’s Next Best Pundit Contest. I entered. I received an email notifying me that I am not in the 10 finalists. That would have been fun.

According to The Op-Ed Project , which is tracking by-lines in major media, The Washington Post has only 14% female representation on its Op-Ed pages. (Which is comparatively good.) Don’t give me that stale line about no female submissions . . . myself and PunditMom submitted. Women always submit. Wa-Po, you better pick a girl this time!

Below is my submission to The Washington Post. Tomorrow, with Joanne Bamberger’s permission I’ll run PunditMom’s submission. The requirement was 400 words.

sarah palin

Motherhood Rising
by Tracee Sioux

Sarah Palin’s entry on the national political scene gave me an odd sort of hope. The Good Ol’ Boys Club – voters against every attempt to help working mothers obtain equality or balance work and family – the very same GOP, shot a mother of five to the Vice Presidential Candidate spot in a desperate attempt to trump Barack Obama’s historic appeal.

Does a nursing mother with a special-needs infant, a pregnant teenage daughter and three other children trump Obama, the first African American candidate with a serious shot at The White House? No.

Still, it was the first time someone like me – a flawed, imperfect mother of young children – entered the national political scene.

I’ve always identified as a feminist, historically vote Democrat, and served as a Delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2008 Texas Primaries. In short, I like Sarah Palin, but I don’t like her politics. Still, I tore a portrait of her out of Time Magazine and thumb-tacked it to my wall, alongside a speech by Gloria Steinem, and a poster of Hillary. She’s more “like me” than Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey, or Diane Sawyer. She’s a mother.

Palin is symbolic of a new era of Motherhood Rising. Motherhood Rising is a change both inevitable and long overdue. Both political parties and the business sector are going to have to take notice of women who have the audacity to mother and lead.

In The Feminine Mistake, Leslie Bennetts points out that most women who “opted out” were actually “pushed out,” after they had children, by workplaces that both devalued them as workers when they became mothers and held them to a rigid patriarchal work structure not conducive to motherhood. A structure based around the assumption of a stay-at-home-mother to back up the employee. Given the choice between 50 hour workweeks and motherhood “opt-outers”, myself included, chose The ‘Hood.

I couldn’t help but notice the media too is lacking the voice of mothers. The ByLine Blog reports that women are only writing 12 percent Op-Ed pieces in the top six major publications, including The Washington Post.

Womenomics by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, however, point to a new era of Motherhood Rising:
• Pepperdine University conducted a study of profitability in companies: those that hired and promoted the most women beat industry averages by 46 percent in revenue and 41 percent in terms of assets.
• Women are the highest trained and most underused resource this country has, holding 58 percent of bachelor’s degrees.
• There’s a looming labor shortage as baby boomers retire.

Whether or not Sarah Palin is the future of politics, a new era is dawning. It’s an era where motherhood is considered an asset to leadership.

Mothers who “opted out” want back in.

We want back in under terms that don’t conflict with our motherhood.

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#1 Margaret on 11.03.09 at 7:46 am

awesome! Good Luck, Tracee! Frankly, I love the writing that both you and Joanne/Pundit Mom share with the blogosphere!! You both are among my faves…


#2 PunditMom/Joanne Bamberger on 11.03.09 at 9:14 pm

Excellent op-ed! Who knows how they chose and why? A few of the people are more high profile and/or inside the beltway. This just makes me believe that it’s time to find other ways to get our collective voices heard — the MSM isn’t going to do it for us, no matter how many contests they run.

#3 Richard H on 11.03.09 at 9:57 pm

Looks worth printing to me. As long as mothers have to pretend they’re not mothers in order to speak in public (or fathers, likewise), we’re missing something important.

#4 Anna K on 11.03.09 at 10:48 pm

I totally agree with you that women want in– and we want in on new terms. Because the old terms, frankly, sucked. For everyone.

#5 alexis on 11.04.09 at 8:03 am

What you wrote about is exactly what women who also are mothers want to happen. Watch out world, get ready, changes are happening!

#6 Tracee Sioux on 11.04.09 at 4:03 pm

Thanks for the support everyone.

#7 Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth on 11.10.09 at 5:37 pm

I think Richard has a great point, we’re an equal opportunity offender on the parenthood front in the public eye. Next year though, we should get a ‘circle’ of parenting pundits and heavily weight the ‘moms on a mission’ appeal…I didn’t apply for Shaping but I tell ya, there are soooooo many of us reaching that tipping point that it’s gonna get hard to ignore, very, very fast.

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