I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t make the cut for finalists in the Washington Post’s “Next Great Pundit” contest. I’m not quite sure why the Washington Post is doing such a thing. Last time I checked with Katie Orenstein from The Op-Ed Project, major newspapers didn’t exactly have a shortage of good opinion material to choose from — most submissions never even see the light of day because they receive so many.
But I figured that this contest was just made for me, even though the pessimist/realist in me knew it would be difficult to snag such a gig so easily. Turns out about 5,000 other people had the same idea I did, and, unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the ten finalists.
But I thought I’d share my entry with you anyway. It seemed a shame to let a good blog post go to waste! And who knows — maybe there’s another good punditry opportunity around the corner!
I just bought my nine-year-old daughter a “This is what a feminist looks like” T-shirt. When I explained that being a feminist means that girls can do whatever boys can, she gave me her best pre-teen eye roll and said simply, “Duh!” I love that she believes she can do or be anything, but lately right-wing conservatives are getting in my way on that message.
Right now she feels empowered in the way only fourth-grade girls can. I don’t have the heart to tell her that if she chooses a political career, she should prepare herself for the mocking and ridicule that seems to be the status quo today.
When my daughter proudly proclaims that she’d make a good President (and I think she would!), how do I explain that some won’t want her in that position and might, as the Republicans have done with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, speak condescendingly of “putting her in her place” in an effort to take her down a peg and minimize her effectiveness as a leader?
Those who dislike powerful women have plenty of choice words. Hillary Clinton is a shrew, Madeleine Albright has a turkey neck, and Olympia Snowe is a Benedict Arnold and a Jezebel for voting her conscience on health care reform rather than blindly following the mandates of her party. Even “good” GOP women like Sarah Palin and Meghan McCain haven’t been safe from the personal attacks of those who are threatened by the possibility of women encroaching on men’s perceived political space.
Even more troubling is that this growing disrespect toward women is finding its way into policy-making.
Senator Jon Kyl is against maternity benefits in health care reform because he doesn’t need them (though I’d like to hear what his wife and daughter have to say on that). And Senator Orrin Hatch wants to limit reproductive choice even in private policies that aren’t impacted by federal dollars. Conservatives have apparently decided that the new tactic in their playbook is to advance their political agendas by engaging in conduct they would never tolerate if hurled at them. That frightens me for my daughter’s future.
The last time I checked, Republicans have daughters, too. In light of this growing path away from women, I’m not sure how they go home at night and face those girls who probably have the same dreams as mine.