Thank the Universe for Women Senators

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter if we elect women. Yesterday, seven Democrats voted with the anti-choice Republicans to avoid tabling Ben Nelson’s amendment that would have restricted women’s ability to pay for abortion coverage with their own funds, if they received federal subsidies for health care. A no vote was a vote to keep the amendment alive.

Voting Yes to table the amendment, and thus, effectively, to kill it, were all the Senate’s women except two––Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is running for Governor of Texas at the end of her current term, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has been tap-dancing for the daddies for a very long time. All the other women, including Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, voted to table the amendment.

It was the outrage expressed by the women that brought this issue to a head. Barbara Boxer asked, pointedly, for what medical procedure men would be forbidden to use their private funds. Dianne Feinstein railed against the unfairness of using health care as a fulcrum to leverage more restrictions on abortion. Even Claire McCaskill–-she who repeated every shopworn “ambitious women are harpies” claim against Hillary Clinton––said bluntly that she could not support such restrictions under any circumstances. Read my lips, Harry––if we have to take health care reform down to keep our right to privacy, we will, and then we’ll point the finger at you.

There is still the reconciliation session when the House’s loathsome Stupak amendment will have to be meshed with whatever the Senate approves, and no doubt the ugly Dems–the ones Rahm Emanuel insisted we should elect in swing districts––will try to further legislate away our rights to fulfill their religious beliefs. But I believe that the resolve of the Senate’s women will strengthen the hands of women and men in the House to do what’s right.

Should it matter whether your Senator is male or female? No. Does it? Oh, yes. And it will, until powerful men stop trying to make women bear the burden of political horse-trading. Most likely, that won’t happen until women have more parity in both Houses of Congress and around the world. You don’t trade away the rights of the strong.

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Sexism and the Press

Quoting from Dana Milbanks' story, referenced above, concerning the announcement that Sarah Palin’s daughter is pregnant:

"Upward of 10,000 reporters in and around the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, idled by McCain's decision to truncate the Republican convention because of Gustav, suddenly discovered that their plans for the day had been knocked up."

This is offensive. And this: "the Juno of Juneau."

Locker room talk about the serious issue of teen pregnancy, and the deliberate fun being made of a teenager trying to deal with big problems, is uncalled for and should be off limits in the media, particularly in the Washington Post, which usually has some devotion to classic journalism.

But Milbanks and others have proven this year that they don't know how to cover female politicians without reverting to high school.

Talk about Palin's stands on birth control and sex education and abstinence all you want, but don't poke fun at the daughter by referring to a popular movie and don't use cute phrases like "knocked up," which imply that pregnancy is something done to a woman and not something she participates in.

I don't see this attitude as differing from the way Clinton was treated, with all the remarks about her thick ankles, "witch’s cackle" and "nutcracker" attitudes.

Stereotyping and denigration based on physical conditions or attributes may be part of political cartooning, but they should be off limits in news stories, and such tactics undermine any serious attempt to parse political events. Journalists–yes, even opinion writers–need to grow up and act like men and women, or your editors need to impose a time out.

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