I’m Not Waiting Until The Polls Close To Say It This Time: Virginia Democrats Have Got To Put More Women On The Ticket

 

So this puppy just landed on my doorstep:

I’m not waiting until November 2017 to say this:

One out of nine candidates as a woman is an insult to women. One out of nine candidates as a woman is a gigantic reveal of sexism. One of out of nine candidates as a woman four years after the choices were zero out of nine candidates as a woman shows you how entrenched this is.

Four years ago, I wrote I Waited Until The Polls Closed To Say This: It’s Insulting To Have Only Men Running On Women’s Issues, which was subsequently picked up by Talking Points Memo and run as It’s Insulting To Have Only Men Running On Women’s Issues in Virginia.

I wrote it on November 5, 2013, literally as I watched poll results come in. My hands were shaking and I wrote so fast. I was furious and had been balling it up for months. Not anymore.

I am working to elect Democrats in my community. I am knocking on your door, calling your cell phone, and asking for your money and vote. I am also openly mad about the failure of Democrats in my community to live our stated values, which is what’s happening when we have a woman problem.

So here’s the deal for you non-Virginians: Arlington prides itself as being the most progressive corner of the Commonwealth.

If the most progressive means putting men forward for nearly all of the elected positions, count me out. I want to be clear that I strongly support each of these leaders as individuals and will vote for them this year. They are wonderful people.

That said, it’s simply inexcusable that the choices are nearly all men. The “women won’t run” excuse is flimsier than a high-quality pantyhose. Our progressive pipeline in Virginia is brimming with talented, capable women who are ready and eager to lead, and Arlington is not an exception to this rule.

How are we to evaluate conversations within the Democratic Party about easing up on abortion rights and women’s rights at a time when women hold so few of the power-holding positions? Exactly as they appear: Dismissing the importance of abortion rights to a progressive agenda is part of a broader, stubborn problem of marginalizing women within the party that purports to be our party.

I write this as an ardent supporter of our Lieutenant Governor and candidate for governor, Ralph Northam. I have personally raised this issue with him. I’m pleased to say that not only has he always resolutely stood for women’s rights, he did not get defensive and say ‘well, I’ve always stood for women’s rights.’ He did not grab for the second-most frequent excuse you’ll usually hear, which is blaming women for not having the self-confidence to run (not the issue; there are women trying and the old boys — many of whom position themselves as the new boys — are coalescing behind other candidates). He listened, acknowledged the problem, and said he would make certain to appoint women into key positions. This is a step.

Some of the speed bumps on the road to hell are the shushings of Democratic Party operatives (even non-self identified Democrats) who dismiss women running for office as “the establishment.” Look at your freaking GOTV fliers. Denying that putting few women into the elected positions is an issue, much less a progressive one, means that you are part of the problem.

It’s 2017. Let women lead.

 

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How To Stop Conversational Manspreading: A Self-Help Guide For Men

Manspreading is not just a physical thing.

manspreading on the subway

It’s a conversational thing. Conversational manspreading is when men dominate a conversation or insert opinions into areas they just shouldn’t comment on.

It sounds like men using a question and answer period to insert an opinion. It sounds like stating opinion as fact. It sounds like men challenging women on their own lived experience. It sounds like former Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) saying Hillary Clinton should smile more, even though he is ‘with her’ electorally speaking. It sounds like, well, conversations with men dominating that happen in classrooms and workplaces every damn day.

Conversational manspreading is not the same thing as mansplaining, or men explaining to women things they already know, although mansplaining can certainly be a tactic in the conversational manspreading toolbox.

So often we see self-help directed toward women as a way to rise above sexist inequality. Women are told we are underpaid because we choose the wrong careers, or we need to find the self-confidence to speak up, or we need to learn how to negotiate, even though new research shows that contrary to conventional wisdom, women ask for raises as much as men — we just don’t get them.

In this spirit, I’d like to offer some self-help tips for men so that they can find a way to rise above the insecurity and awry feelings that lead them to take up more conversational space than they need. Here goes:

  1. Don’t tell a woman what she goes through when she has her period, or how she should think about her own anatomy or reproductive matters in general — just don’t. Ever. Even if you happen to work in the reproductive health field.
  2. Don’t comment on how much or how little others are eating or exercising.
  3. Don’t interrupt women.
  4. Do not “shush” women as you disagree with them, either with sounds and/or your hands.
  5. If you are answering every question or speaking to every point raised in a meeting, you are speaking too much.
  6. Don’t tell someone how to feel. Don’t tell someone to smile. Don’t tell someone to lighten up.
  7. If you are a man and dominating a conversation about feminism with your own opinions, you’re doing it wrong.
  8. If you’re a white person and you’re dominating a conversation about racism with your own opinions, you’re doing it wrong.
  9. If you agree with something someone else said, say so. Do not present their opinions as your own.
  10. Don’t respond to queries for questions with your opinions.
  11. If you don’t have the lived experience, spend almost all of your time listening.
  12. If you don’t have the lived experience, do not explain how those who do should respond to injustice.
  13. Don’t tell activists they are doing it wrong.
  14. Don’t respond to police brutality with a nervous call for everyone to calm down and remain peaceful.
  15. If you are all over a listserv like every other post, stop it!
  16. Don’t mansplain. Don’t mansplain what mansplaining means to the one woman sitting at your table of four (I sat next to that at a restaurant once and it took every fiber of my being to not whip out the video camera).
  17. Don’t say something flirty or cute to someone who works below you, ever. It’s not a joke.
  18. If you consider yourself a progressive man, all of the above still apply to you. Do not assume you are perfect.

Add in your tips for men to stop the conversational manspreading in the comments!

Cosmo Says Male-Dominated Workplaces Are Great Places To Score A Date

For decades, Cosmopolitan magazine has been enthusiastically converting the mainstream, feel-bad-about-yourself mythology of girl-meets-guy into a mainstream, monthly infection. You’re supposed to only want guys (duh), and be validated through men (it’s so exciting!), and make yourself pretty so he’ll like you (eat a smaller lunch and tone those glutes!) and taking this matter into your own hands is empowering (and here are some bonus sex tips to help make him moan, because the sex is about the pleasure, or at least his).

Telling women that male-dominated workplaces are great places to score a date is taking this yuck to a whole new level.

From The Best Places to Meet a Guy (emphases mine):

Hot spot: A Fortune 500 or tech company

The draw: How’s this for a fab job perk? Twenty-two percent of people met their spouses or long-term significant others on the job, according to a survey by Vault.com. But all careers are not created equal, guy-wise. If you’re searching for a new position, consider working for either a Fortune 500 company (75 percent of incoming full-time associates at top banks, many of which are in the Fortune 500, are guys) or a tech company (men make up 75 percent of the technology workforce, according to the National Science Foundation). Hint: Once you’re in, join the office Super Bowl pool.

Find it near you: Visit hoovers.com for a list of companies. The following Fortune 500 companies have an impressive guy-to-girl ratio: 

    • California: 75 percent of new hires, as of their latest report, at Cisco Systems, an Internet networking business, are male; cisco.com.
    • Nationwide: At Dominion, an energy company, 78 percent of staffers are male; dom.com. And 70 percent of Hewlett-Packard employees are men; hp.com.

Hot spot: A political rally or campaign

The draw: The hottest political organization these days is the Save Darfur Coalition, which is dedicated to ending the genocide in Darfur, the western region of Sudan in Africa. Stars like George Clooney are getting involved in the movement, and the number of members (read: smart, passionate guys) is rapidly increasing. If you feel fired up for the cause too, check out upcoming rallies, vigils, roundtables, and concerts. Or join a political campaign. The best part: Many senatorial and gubernatorial campaign teams are male-dominated. The atmosphere is intense (you’re all working hard toward a goal: the candidate winning), and there’s a set end point (the election), which lends itself to a live-for-the-moment attitude that’s conducive to love connections.

Find it near you: Visit savedarfur.org/events or electionprojection.com for a list of candidates by state.

Yes! This is real! ZOMFG. Cosmopolitan is proudly presenting the glass ceiling as an aphrodisiac. Why rage against the machine when you can run your leg alongside it? You are being encouraged to research companies run by dudes not so you can demand answers or take away your business (which would be totally valid ways to seek empowerment), but so you can seek a job for the purpose of finding someone to bang you. Not once is it suggested that seeking a job in one of these boys clubs might be about advancing your career or the status of women (which would also be totally valid ways to seek empowerment). Nor is it suggested there is something wrong with these ratios.

But wait! Not only are men doing it pretty much by themselves in the big companies for the big salaries, they are also doing it in politics. It’s even “the best part” that “many senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns are male-dominated.”

While holding individual women and their sexual choices responsible for the second-class status of women is not a feminist activity, we have every right to be concerned that Cosmopolitan is suggesting that women should go into male-dominated workspaces on the prowl for mating partners. This kind of sludge serves to reinforce sexist ideas about women in the workplace and suggests that we might be working hard and showing enthusiasm not because we care or want to get promoted, but because we want to get laid. All while managing to simultaneously avoid addressing and also celebrate the skirts off the power differential of a man pursuing a more junior woman in the male-dominated workspace.

Cosmopolitan calls itself a “cheerleader for millions of fun, fearless females who want to be the best they can be in every area of their lives.” In 2014 it’s hard to believe the best we can be is holding fewer than one in 10 of the top-earner slots in Fortune 500 companies and maybe also taking it on the copy machine.

If you would like to see Cosmopolitan stop turning “Lean In” into “Sleaze In,” drop them a line at inbox@cosmopolitan.com.

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