Opinion: Not all women on same political page

January 9, 2013


As the son of a woman, the husband of a woman and the father of daughters and granddaughters, I celebrate the record number of females who are now United States senators. However, I do see some differences in the way these and other women are treated, depending on their party, policies and beliefs.

Diane Sawyer broadcast a celebratory report last week on ABC’s “World News Tonight” on which she gushed about the “record number” of 20 female senators. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., also praised the Senate female population. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said she won’t be satisfied until there are 50 female senators.

In the Senate, the ratio of female Democrats to Republicans is 16 to 4. Would media approval for these women be different if the ratio were reversed? Consider how conservative females are treated, most notably Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. During her presidential run, Bachmann was labeled a religious fanatic and anti-woman for being pro-life. Her husband, Marcus, was criticized because of his Christian counseling clinic that some allege focuses on converting gays to heterosexuality, a charge he vehemently denies.

The media mostly ignore other Republican women, like Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico — at least for now.

“We’re less on testosterone,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told Sawyer. “We don’t have that need to always be confrontational. And I think we’re problem solvers, and I think that’s what this country needs.” Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, agreed.

So testosterone is to blame for the fact that male senators are so combative and that Congress continues to founder? Imagine a male suggesting that estrogen hampers women from performing well at their jobs. You don’t have to imagine. Some men have said that and worse, to their shame, and society and ultimately history itself was right to denounce them.

But after all the talk about female bonding and how women and men have different approaches to solving problems, what does that mean? Does it mean that a Democratic female senator who is pro-choice on abortion and favors same-sex marriage, bigger roles for government, more spending and higher taxes will be able to find common ground with a Republican female senator who takes the opposite positions? I doubt it.

This double standard seems not only to apply to gender, but also to race. Consider the disparaging things said about Tim Scott, the new senator from South Carolina, a replacement for the retired Jim DeMint. Scott is black, but his race does not endear him to liberals. He probably won’t be embraced by the NAACP, whose president accused him of not believing in civil rights, having received an “F” on the NAACP’s civil rights scorecard, which judges legislators on their votes on “civil rights” issues. In fact, Scott is just as much an example of the advancement of civil rights for blacks as those female senators are examples of progress for women.

In the end, it isn’t about gender or race, but ideology. When they speak of “women’s issues,” for example, the left seems to think that all women think alike, or should. The same for African Americans and civil rights. I think the right correctly sees content of character and ideas as superior to gender and skin color.

In the interview with Diane Sawyer, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said that by nature women are “less confrontational.” Really? McCaskill must never have met the leaders of the women’s movement whose disciples are among her colleagues. The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is no shrinking violet.

I’m not betting on estrogen besting testosterone to “get things done,” forge compromise and diffuse confrontation, especially given the history of some very uncompromising female leaders like Cleopatra, Catherine the Great, underground railroad “conductor” Harriet Tubman, the late Bella Abzug, D-N.Y., or British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In fact, these women exhibited more testicular fortitude than some men, which, in the case of the conservative Thatcher, likely had a lot to do with why her male colleagues dumped her as party leader.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

I found this op ed piece very sexist. The population of the US is 51% female and yet we are "celebrating" the idea that the Senate is now 20% female. It seems that Cal is begrudging women that much.
I also think he could have chosen some better examples than Bat$#%& Bachmann. Olympia Snowe, Condoleeza Rice and our own Nancy Landon Kassebaum come to mind. It's unfortunate that none of those women are no longer in office but it's also an indication of how far down the rabbit hole the GOP has gone.
I also think it's VERY telling that, of the 20 female Senators, only four of them are Republican. It's not just an indication that the GOP is close to gasping it's last breath, but an indication that it's a party that women stay away from in droves. Not that they're very accepted anyway.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 3 months ago

Wow! Cal Thomas Is a Liberal Democrat Now? That is Quite A Shift for him.

voevoda 5 years, 3 months ago

Cal Thomas is confused about history. Catherine the Great was strong minded, but she also was very adept at compromising, building coalitions, and garnering broad support among the people who mattered politically in 18th century Russia. Cleopatra knew how to compromise, too. But that accurate version of history wouldn't suit Cal Thomas, because he is against compromise, against giving up ideological purity for the sake of pragmatic, let's-get-the-job done politics.

The objection to "testosterone" isn't an objection to men; after all, women have testosterone, too. It's an objection to the kind of behavior that a surfeit of testosterone leads to: a posturing, confrontation, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, win-at-any-cost approach to the business of government. We have too much of that kind of approach in government now, including from some of the women, such as Michelle Bachmann. A dose of "estrogen"--which men have, too --might reduce the aggressive behavior, calm tempers and promote collegial relationships. That would be very helpful in ending the gridlock in Congress.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

Get ready for the mid-terms. Ashley Judd is going up against Mitch McConnell and actually has a good chance of winning. McConnell said that Obama has "painted a target on his back". Most people I know think that McConnell did that to himself.
It will most definitely be an interesting election season.

JayCat_67 5 years, 3 months ago

That was eight years ago. Get over it already.

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