Being a Woman in American Politics

I am in that sandwich generation between the straight-laced 50s and the drugged-up 70s, where young women went from having chaperones and wearing poodle skirts to wearing bell bottoms and listening to songs on the radio called Love the One You’re With.

It was a confusing time for us girls. We were told to watch our reputations, but no one was helping us watch them. We had more freedom than ever, and many of us ended up being sexually assaulted because of it.

My college sorority house had a house mom who sat at the foot of the stairs and monitored the comings and goings of all of us and our dates. No guys were allowed past the first floor. But others my age lived off campus in apartments with boyfriends. Some of us ended up getting pregnant when the condom broke, and then we had to decide if we were going to drop out of college or work and have the baby. Or get an abortion and graduate.

The reason I am saying us is because what happens to one of us women happens to all of us. I just had an angry old guy tell me on Facebook that that is untrue.  My comment was about defending Kamala Harris as a smart, accomplished woman after his buddy made a post about her rise to power by way of a mattress. As in, she slept her way to the top.

Actually, the post started out by saying that Joe Biden picked her as a nobody and made her his VP.

A nobody – Kamala Harris, a lawyer, District Attorney for the county of Alameda, then San Francisco, then Attorney General of the state of California, then U.S. Senator, and now second in line to the presidency.

It’s the same angry-old-white-guy argument.  The women with political power in this country are bitches, angry, stupid, too old, too young, too whatever. The old white guys can’t stand to see women in powerful positions – Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. The list goes on and on.

In their defense, angry old white guys were born into a different world and grew up only seeing men in positions of power. White men have ruled the nation since its inception, until Barack Obama came along.  Now the AOWGs are reaching or beyond 70 years old, and things in the country are changing. They don’t like it. As they become more conservative, the country is becoming more liberal, at least for the next two years with a Democratic house, senate, and White House.

But to have a man tell me that it is 100% not true that when women in power get bashed by men, it affects all women, well, that is, as he said, bullshit. How does he know what it feels like to be a woman? Has he asked his daughter? His girlfriend? Even if he has, he has never experienced the sexual harrassment (before it was coined a term), attitudes toward women doing “male” jobs, or anything else we’ve been through. One male principal I worked with told others that I had cojones, even way back then.

I say that when men bash women because they are women, it hurts all of us women.  We’ve come a long way, baby, but we still have along way to go. I was three bites into a lovely salmon dinner on a first date with an older man when he said, “How about that Nancy Pelosi?  She’s a mess.”

That guy didn’t work out, but I digress.

My son, son-in-law, nephews and nephew-in-law do not share the same animosity towards women in power. They grew up seeing it. To them it is normal.

My hats are off to the women in politics who joined the good old boys’ club and hung in there all these years, women like Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Maxine Waters, RBG, Sandra Day O’Connor, Shirley Chisholm, Condoleeza Rice, Madeline Albright, Elena Kagen, Sonia Sotomayor, Kirsten Gillibrand — I am missing many names. They had the cojones to fight for women’s rights in congress.

My cojones, on the other hand, are just big enough to fight with angry old white guys on Facebook.

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