Saturday, November 6, 2010

Women in American Politics

The role of women in the history of politics in the U.S has undoubtedly been increasing over the years. A lot has been done by women themselves in this regard. Women have actually proven that they are not lesser beings intellectually. As a matter, if one were to look back to the time when politics was a no go zone for women, one might even wonder; how did people even survive? Women have a natural predisposition to nurturing due to their motherly instincts; something that is absolutely necessary for the good of any country, and indeed for the whole of humanity. As we speak, women in the U.S. hold several high offices. There are more women in the congress and the senate today, than at any other time in history. However, one question that one might ask is; can we do better? Are we ready for a woman in the ‘big seat?' That no woman has ever occupied the great office in so many decades in the history of the states is a very worrying thing.

True democracy ensues from convictions of the intellect. It must flow from the heart. Now if no woman has ever reigned in the states, can we say that we have reached the threshold of democracy yet? Is it true that the top job belongs to the boys? Here we look at the trends of women involvement in the politics of the United States and whether these trends point to a ‘happy ever after.'
Women in Politics

To have an idea of where we are, we must critically re-evaluate our past. We must put aside all irrational decisions made in the past, in order to come up with a country that future generations will celebrate.

A major irrationality that prevailed in the past was the thought that women could not vote. This was informed by the patristic thinking of the early days. Perhaps nature is also to blame in this unfortunate thing. This is because politics in the past were not a simple contest. It sometimes became bloody, and of course women were ‘weak.' One thing that men succeeded in doing for a long time was convincing women that they are inferior. The biological structure was at the service of men. This has informed decisions in political lives of many, not just in the United States but in the whole world.

If the rights of individuals are dictated by gender, someone is likely to be exploited. The rights of women for a very long time, until recently actually, were limited. Men had decided that only they could determine who ruled America. Of course not all men were allowed to vote, only men who were white (Hughes and Paxton, 2009). As a matter of fact even this came through an evolution. At one time it was only aristocrats, who of course were white, who had these rights.

The battle for a place in society for women has been a long one. It had already started in the reign of Jackson Andrew. Women during this time had begun fighting for their rights (Hughes, 2007). Even though in many ways they didn't succeed at the time, they at least were allowed to express their concerns. This set the stage for what we have today; women with a voice. At the time women were fighting for rights such as the ending of slave trade, the right to determine themselves, the right to some freedoms, and the end of property as a requirement to vote. Women succeeded in ‘death sentence as punishment for rape.'

Elizabeth C. Stanton wrote what she called the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848 which was echoed as a major step towards equality. This was actually informed by the disparities in the declaration of independence, and was thus seen as a great achievement for women (Karlson, 2002). The people who championed these causes were mainly women.

During World War I, women got a taste of employment, albeit a better one, because many of them found jobs in the military. When war was dispensed with, women were back to their old roles of taking care of families. Those who could still found jobs were given lower salaries than men in the same jobs. This was tough for women, and for the first time, women wanted some fairness (McGerr, 1990). A movement that was founded to address the issues related to women was already up. Women eventually succeeded in getting the Equal Pay Act set in 1963. From then on everyone was supposed to be treated not on the basis of sex, but on what one could do. It was not so long ago when there existed facilities like hotels, clubs and other organizations where women were excluded. Blacks were also excluded. While giving his acceptance speech, President Barrack Obama gave an example of this when he mentioned that less than twenty years ago, his father was not allowed into a restaurant because he was black.

This faced severe opposition and criticism. Strikes and protests became common within women circles. Eventually places like these were made common to all.

In 1971, an important chapter in women's political space was opened. This was the year that the organization for women's political affairs was founded. The National Women's Political Caucus was meant to ensure that women got enough education in order to have an equal ground in political endeavors. The organization does through workshops, and fundraising for women candidates. This organization is also responsible for ensuring that the best female candidates go through into leadership positions in government.

Despite the granting of the voting right in 1920, the voting trends were all in favor of males. Only in 1994, did we have more than two women in the Senate; a clear indication that women have really had a long unrelenting struggle. In the congress the story was the same.

In the elections that saw Barrack Obama elected president, there were two key women in those campaigns: Hilary Clinton, and Sarah Parlin. Clinton attempted to run for the top job, and she got incredible support one must say, considering the previous male dominated voting trends. This is an indication that many Americans have already changed their perceptions about women. It is quite possible actually, that in the next polls, a woman candidate will be given the mandate to lead this mighty nation. A lot of ground work still needs to be done for this to be realized though.

Amazingly, women form over fifty percent of all voters. Why do they not produce a female candidate and give her their support? Are women quite convinced that they can actually lead? Why did they not vote for their own? (Center for American Women and Politics, 2009)