Monday, January 5, 2009

The Feminine Political Cry? "No Cuts!": Relevant Line Jumping


In all the holiday hustle and bustle, there are some stories that a busy mom (or dad) may have missed from the political stage. Let's get caught up politically, shall we?

As Congress gets ready to go back into session, there has been no shortage of drama, and down to the wire machinations in key open and unresolved seats. Al Franken seems to be staking a claim on his race, by a ridiculously close margin, where all votes were scrutinized and double scrutinized. Who knows what will happen with Obama's vacated seat, since the gatekeepers of the Senate are all but barricading the door to the appointed choice of the defiant Illinois governor, who is hanging on to his job by his fingernails, while he is investigated for political corruption allegations. 

And then there is the seat left open by Hillary Clinton in New York. Another cultural storm kicked up when storied Kennedy-in-waiting, Caroline Kennedy, stepped forward and threw her hat in the ring (I think it would have been a nice touch to throw her mother's actual pill-box hat in the ring myself). People are sensitive about dynasties, but curiously not as much when it's male ascension. And, they claim that, you guessed it, she's not qualified, because she has largely remained out of the public spotlight and raised her kids. 

But one hole in this argument is that they discount her years of behind the scenes work, prominent roles actually, not least of which was being a part of the team tasked with advising then candidate Barack Obama about his vice-presidential candidate choices. So disagree with her politics, get cranky about the nepotistic reality of pathways to power, but qualifications are off the table on this one in my view. Call it what it is, another lob in the war of women who feel that she didn't play the game to deserve the opportunity. You can choose to focus on your family, or climb the ladder of power, but not both, at least in some circles. Women get really touchy when you do, and it's a shame!

Here's a summary of some interesting articles on the topic:
  • An editorial in the New York Times thinks that she should "wait her turn."
  • There are inevitable comparisons to Sarah Palin, and The Week sums up these articles.
  • But others have put the kibosh on that line of marginalizing, and say "she's no Sarah Palin."
  • Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of the book I'm finishing right now, The Mommy Warswrote a column on Mommy Track'd wondering if it really is possible that she can "on-ramp" (a term describing professionals that resume their working life at some point after having stayed home with the kids) and still have it all?
  • Another columnist on Mommy Track'd, Meredith O'Brien, also delves into the motherhood politics surrounding this particular political contender.
  • An interesting article about family business from the viewpoint of evolutionary biology.
  • Careful about underestimating a stay at home mother! In Virginia, a group of like minded stay at home moms are mobilizing for political action in their local community. One of the advantages that they have in making inroads? Their flexible schedules!
A couple of other interesting political stories to throw in the mix:
  • Learn the really pretty fascinating history behind the oval office itself.
  • This is kind of different, as task forces go. Obama is assembling a "Middle Class" task force, led by Vice-President elect Joe Biden. It's focus is to come up with plans to strengthen and protect the middle class in the country. This is an interesting one to watch.
  • How nifty is this?! The kids get their very own inauguration concert
  • One of the really thrilling parts of this transition has been the solicitation of ideas and feedback from "joe public." I don't envy the people that have to wade through it all, but I commend the move. There are no shortage of prominent people advising of course, but even prominent but usually kind of quiet people are stepping up to offer ideas, like Craig Newmark, the famous "Craig" of Craigslist, who has some interesting ideas about a "Craigslist of Service."
I have to say if I'm a civics teacher this year, I'm thinking the motherlode of curriculum has been dropped on my desk. What a political season!

And here is a parting thought: why do we have such a problem with the feminine in spheres of power, when we refer to countries, ships, etc. in the feminine? Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments.

Photo Credit cacalloohcallay

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