What do the Midterms Mean to Congressional Women?

Last updated on September 25th, 2023 at 08:39 pm

Sarah Palin’s Mama Grizzlies were extinctified in the recent midterms (can I use that expression, Sarah? I made it up myself!).

What the heck happened to all those Republican women? Those strong-hearted Mama Grizzlies like Angle and O’Donnell and Fiorina? Women didn’t do so well. Women got elected, sure, but there will be no more women in Congress as a result of those elections than there were before.

CNN reports some basic facts about women in American government, and they’re sobering:

  • Record number of new GOP faces in Congress in 2011 will be women
  • Overall number of women in Congress will not increase, however
  • Women make up 17 percent of Congress
  • U.S. ranks 90th in the world when it comes to number of women in national legislatures.

“In fact,” CNN goes on to reveal, “this election year will mark the first time in nearly three decades that women have not increased their ranks in Congress.” There is something that must be pointed out, however, with regards to America’s ranking in the world: other countries have quotas that ensure enough women serve.

Still, 17 percent is not too impressive and it doesn’t sound like we took step forward, which is no surprise considering we’re talking about a Republican victory.

Before you start saying the Democrats are afraid of strong Republican women, think about this:

Sure, 113 GOP women challenged incumbents compared to 80 Democrats but the Democrats had a 46 percent success rate compared to only 28 for the Republicans. And Democrat women still far outnumber Republican women in Congress.

Sarah Palin can try to co-opt feminism for her own non-feminist purposes but the numbers don’t lie.

And leadership roles? Fuhgeddaboudit!

The Democrats had a female Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. She will likely remain minority leader.

Three women, all Democrats, will be losing their committee chairs:

  • Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) Chair, House Rules Committee;
  • Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) Chair, Small Business Committee, and
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) Chair, House Ethics Committee.

If you’re keeping track, that’s three Democratic women out of leadership positions, four if you count Pelosi. CNN reports that only one woman is likely to assume a committee chair position:

The only woman expected to take over a House committee is [Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen, who is likely to become chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The new Republican Speaker of the House is a male. And not one single member of his leadership team is a woman. All men. Boehner’s Boys they’re already calling them. Crazy Michele Bachman tried to break into that Good Old Boys club but failed. She dropped out of the running on Wednesday.

The highest ranked Republican woman will be ranked fifth from the top, counting the Speaker. This will be Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who it is believed will retain her vice chair of the House GOP Conference.

I guess Republicans don’t mind women in the House, they just want them in the kitchen.

So what is it with Republicans and women? You can say in defense of the GOP that there are too few Republican women with seniority to assume leadership roles but whose fault is that? It’s not the fault of Democrats that there have been few GOP women; after all, we elect plenty of our own. The blame points squarely where it belongs: at the GOP Good Old Boys club.

The accusation of misogyny has been laid before their door already, and it’s still on the table. The recent elections featured many female Republican candidates but few were elected and none of them were given leadership roles. This doesn’t sound like a female-friendly bunch.

And let’s face it, where the general elections were concerned and Democrats played a part, you can’t pretend that Angle, O’Donnell and Fiorina were candidates who could be or should be taken seriously. It was a joke, right? Had to be. It wasn’t sexism that defeated the Three Amigas but “stupidism,” the tendency of voters to reject outrageously, catastrophically incompetent candidates.

I mean it was a joke, right? Tell me it was a joke.

But Republicans have a difficult time coming to grips with their racism and they have a difficult time coming to grips with their misogyny. They like to throw both back at liberals and make the claim that liberals are racists and misogynists but the facts just don’t bear this out. The GOP is its own worst enemy, so anti-everything that it’s created a tent too small for anyone but a few rich white men and their sycophants.

Why a woman would even want to join this group is beyond me but to each his own. The point is that the Republicans are not interested in advancing a feminist agenda; they don’t believe in feminism because deep down in their heart of hearts they don’t believe women are as good as men. Look at the bimbos in push-up bras they line up to sell their propaganda on FOX News. If they took women seriously, you wouldn’t be seeing that.

But they don’t, and I think that says it all.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson

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