A Seat at the Table: Women in Politics

Women have been breaking down barriers and shattering glass ceilings since the beginning of time. 2018 is no exception. Women like Joan of Arc paved the road for female leaders, but women such as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have kept the fire alive. This year has proven historic with a record breaking number of female candidates vying for a seat in the House of Representatives skyrocketing from 298 to more than 400.

With so much incredible growth happening so rapidly, many people are wondering “why now”? What has sparked this “revolution”? To put it simply, more women have begun to realize they are only powerless when they believe that they have no power. With the election of President Trump in 2016 and, more recently, the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh many women feel silenced and trapped within a patriarchal government. Trump’s election resonated tremendously with democratic women, causing their numbers to rise dramatically in both local and national races. While these events may have been what inspired them to run, it is not what has kept them in. At the heart of their campaign every woman candidate is here to create gender equality and remind America that the future is female.

One of the breakout stars of this political year, is Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. She made a name for herself by defeating the long standing (20 years!) Congress Representative Joe Crawley in a New York primary. Just last week, she became the youngest woman ever to be elected to congress. Part of her victory has been credited to her Puerto Rican-American roots which connects her to the extremely diverse area which she will represent. Born and raised in the Bronx, NY many people saw her as the underdog, which only strengthened her campaign. More locally, Kate Brown ran for her second term as Governor in Oregon. Her race ended victoriously after her run with a moderate Republican candidate, Knute Buehler, who her gave her quite a fight in a traditionally blue state.

Not only have women proved themselves different from their male candidates in their gender, but also in policies and agendas. Studies have shown that women prioritize things such as education, healthcare, and immigration more than male candidates. This gives voters who also prioritize these things a candidate that truly represents what they really want. Unfortunately for women, the media would rather focus on what they wear or their familial life rather than their policies. This is something we obviously don’t see with men, putting women at a disadvantage with voters. A common misconception women in office deal with is the feeling of needing to shed their mother identity in order to be deemed tough enough to survive in a male dominated, political climate.

Although this midterm stands to be historic for women, a record number of women in office will not magically change the gender disparity, but it will strengthen the fight for equality. And remind us all that now more than ever women need a seat at the political table because the future is female.

 

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/09/02/american-woman-in-politics-sizzle.cnn

https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2017/nov/29/female-political-leaders-women-change

https://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article219698240.html

Picture: Pinterest

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