I'll wrap up International Woman's Day by linking to this open letter to Chellie Pingree by Ilise Hogue at The Nation:
Your announcement yesterday that you will not seek the open Senate seat in Maine made my heart sink. My emotional reaction to your well-reasoned decision surprised me. After all, as someone who has operated in the political arena for quite a while now, I’m accustomed to the pragmatic decisions and political calculations that are the bread and butter of incremental progress. Still, there are moments where outrageous circumstances should trump reasonable decision making, and recent events in the world of US women have been outrageous enough to warrant one of those moments.
The reasons for your decision are apparent and undeniable: early polling shows a nearly impossible pathway to victory in a three-way race; former governor and independent candidate Angus King has established himself as the presumed front-runner and your constituencies overlap; absent one of you dropping out, the race will likely be won by the Republican candidate. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee lauded your decision as the right one for the people of Maine and progressive causes, since neither will benefit from adding another Conservative Republican to the Senate. I am quite certain that party operatives and others are lining up to thank you for “taking one for the team.” But, me? I just wonder when it will be someone else’s turn to step aside for our team.
Yeah, me too.
She goes on to lay out all the statistics that show dramatic inequality and all the good reasons why it's so important for more women to be in leadership positions, including some startling information I didn't know myself, like this:
[D]isparity isn’t only present at the bottom end of the economic spectrum either. In a culture that places a premium on innovation, male-founded startups receive venture capital funding by a margin of four to one over women-founded startups. Women-led companies are twice as likely to get debt capital versus equity capital, requiring that women shoulder more of the risk on their own. These facts are true in spite of research that shows that gender diversity within senior ranks of organizations translates into financial value, especially where innovation is part of the equation.
The issues outlined above have been marginalized as “women’s issues,” despite the fact that they are issues of family, issues of economic competitiveness and issues of national public health.
And they are "issues" that apply to half the fucking population of the world. It's not as if we're talking about some small discrete group here.
What Ilyse is describing is this ongoing "mommification" of women in which they are required to be the good soldiers, step aside, quit the race, be the peacemakers for the good of the family. I expect that to be the case in Republican circles (it just happened to Michele Bachmann)because these women actually do buy into this retrograde vision of the family. But it happens constantly in Democratic politics as well. Look back at the health care debate for a refresher. And it's tiresome.
If these last few weeks have taught us anything it's that there's still a whole lot of consciousness raising to do about this. I was struck by these amazing pictures of the protests in Virginia over the ultrasound legislation. This one says it all for me: