Women Changing the Game of Politics

Hillary Clinton her first day as secretary of state
Hillary Clinton her first day as secretary of state

Ever since the birth of the American nation, the women who reside here have fought their way to the top to attempt to break the institutional barriers of participation. Not only in games but in the workforce and the world of politics as well.  In the 2008 presidential election, former first lady, secretary of state, and Senator Hilary Clinton was only 305 delegate votes away from becoming the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. A major amount of progress since Victoria Claflin Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in 1870, before women even had the right to vote in all 50 states. That didn’t come along until the 19th amendment in 1919, and took even longer for African American women who didn’t receive full voting privileges until the 1960s.

2010 Supreme Court, 3 Women and 8 Men
2010 Supreme Court, 3 Women and 8 Men

The realm of American politics has always favored men over women, as they are the only ones allowed to play without barriers. False beliefs about competence is perhaps one of the strongest hindrances placed on women in the political world and the white collar work force as well. Not too long ago women were generalized as maids, teachers, and housewives to successful husbands. Always being a part of someone else’s success, never the creators or their own. Luckily, that isn’t how things are now. Today, women make up 51% of professional workers in the United States. Why the sudden boost in occupations? Had someone been told 60 years ago that women would have such a powerful impact on the nation through the same kind of work as men, they would have laughed in the face of anyone that could suggest such a preposterous statement.  Although America has indeed come a long way since its days of blatant disregard for the advancement of women, it still has a long way to go, especially within the political world.

Currently, women hold 18.5% or 99 of the 535 seats in the 113th U.S Congress, 20% or 20 of the 100 seats in Senate and 18.2% or 79 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Which is strange being that there are 161 million females in the United States compared to the 156.1 million men. This clear depiction of a lack of female representation within the American political system proves that women are not playing a big enough role in how a country that they mostly populate is ran. This is not to argue that women should take over completely and disregard men as an ally in the fight for a “more perfect union”, but they should play a bigger part in how the country is ran. According to LaVaque-Manty, there are ideals of personhood and norms that attach to different types of personhood when we try to understand questions of equality of opportunity. Meaning that people’s perception of gender norms can have a negative effect on those who try and go against it. Voters react to women candidates differently than they would their male counterparts, which is one of the reasons why the numbers of women who hold political offices are so small. Women have to be tough and confident while still balancing feminine qualities and not appearing weak. A pressure that is not placed on their male counterparts.

Imagine walking into a competition, knowing that statistically you’re automatically set up to fail. So as a result of you knowing this information…you prove the stereotype right and score lower than all other participants. This is known as the stereotype threat. Something that partially explains the disproportions of women in government. Why even aspire to go into a profession when they have a notion that they won’t do as well or make as much of a difference as the men. This is where the problem lies and until confidence is put back into the female community, the lack of women within government will remain.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Women Changing the Game of Politics

  1. I think you make some great points in this article. Another thing that I think is important to note is that until we have a greater representation of oppressed people in the government, such as women, people of color, etc., oppression will take longer to overcome. Without people who are disadvantaged being directly involved in policy-making, how are we supposed to eradicate inequality? This is not to say that policy is what eradicates social problem. Social movements are important to shift perspectives and minds. With gay marriage, while it is becoming widely accepted politically, there is still a lot of backlash socially. But, there is hope in policy-making as a means of achieving equality and it’s not entirely purposeless; at the very least, it’s a good start.

    Like

  2. I completely agree with the points in this post and the previous comment and personally find this topic very interesting. I firmly believe that instilling confidence in women can have a strong impact on how gender inequality can be dealt with. If we empower the women in our society to aspire to succeed, women and men will be on the same playing field politically and also in all other aspects of life, thus helping to eliminate gender stereotypes. I also agree with helfmanl’s point about the importance of social movements in eradicating inequality and enacting political change. Social movements are how every day citizens become involved and take an active stance in politics. Without their voice in the minds of policy makers, the majority of whom the social movement may not directly pertain to, they average citizen would not be able to have their voice heard and taken into consideration.

    Like

Comments are closed.