The current flap about Hillary Clinton playing the “woman card” is nothing short of ridiculous.
As a woman, I know what it feels like to be trivialized (called “honey” and “girl”), talked down to (“mansplaining”), ignored, talked over, interrupted and denied a seat at the decision-making table.
I also know what can happen to one’s career if one stands up for oneself or responds in kind. So much for the “woman card.”
Why aren’t we talking about Donald Trump playing the “man card”? After all, he’s trying to be some sort of alpha male by appealing to other men who wish they had the guts (and the money) to just say whatever they want. You know—a guy who puts down women based on looks, presumes women have less stamina to pursue their ambitions, makes unwanted physical advances, bullies to get his way, ignores a woman if she’s not a “10” and prefers to hire women without children—all while telling everyone how he respects women. (Trump not too long ago said: “[A female employee] is not giving me 100 percent. … She’s giving me 84 percent, and 16 percent is going towards taking care of children.”) An alpha male never makes apologies or excuses his behavior. He is self-focused, self-justifying—and believes that everyone else is there to help him, serve him, entertain him and sleep with him. It isn’t that the alpha male doesn’t provide opportunities for smart and capable females; it’s that he’ll only do it when it benefits him—and he can’t help seeing women with sexist presumptions about how they should look and act.
If merely being female is playing the “woman card” and gives women some kind of advantage, then why are there so few women in positions of power? Only 12 percent of seats on corporate boards in America are held by women. Women have headed their governments in the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Lithuania, Liberia, Bangladesh, Denmark, South Korea, Norway, Chile, Poland and many countries—but not in the United States. Less than 20 percent of congressional seats are held by women, and we are actually losing ground on getting into elected office at the state and local level. In 1998, we ranked 59th in the world in the percentage of women in our national legislature; in 2014, we were 98th, just behind Kenya and Indonesia, and barely ahead of the United Arab Emirates. Less than 25 percent of statewide offices are held by women, barely higher than in 1993.
Women make up half of California’s population but hold less than 30 percent of state, county and local elected offices. Of more than 400 cities in California, only 51 have female majorities on city councils, and 69 cities have no women serving at all. That’s actually better than most other states.
While we’re used to seeing lots of women heading charitable functions and raising money for good causes locally, the statistics on women holding public office here in the Coachella Valley are depressing. In both Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, just one of the five councilmembers is a woman. Coachella has one of four; Desert Hot Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta and Indio each have two women out of five councilmembers. As for Cathedral City and Indian Wells … not a single woman can be found on their city councils. At the Riverside County level, there are no women on the Board of Supervisors.
This lack of women in political positions has consequences. Arend Lijphart, a former president of the American Political Science Association, says there are “strong correlations between more women legislators and more progressive policies on issues like the environment, macroeconomic management, support for families, violence prevention, and incarceration.” Worldwide studies that have found women legislators introduce more bills than men regarding civil liberties, education, health, labor and other important issues affecting day-to-day life. In addition, research indicates that nations that elect women to key national leadership roles enjoy increases in economic growth, largely based on a more participatory style and the ability to manage difficult situations requiring cooperative approaches.
Hey, that “woman card” sounds pretty good!
When Donald Trump accuses Hillary Clinton of playing the “woman card,” and attacks her for “enabling” her husband’s womanizing, keep in mind his own philosophy about marriage, as written in Trump: The Art of the Comeback: “I tell friends whose wives are constantly nagging them about this or that they’re better off leaving and cutting their losses. I’m not a great believer in always trying to work things out, because it just doesn’t happen that way. For a man to be successful he needs support at home … not someone who is always griping and bitching. When a man has to endure a woman who is not supportive and complains constantly … he will not be very successful unless he is able to cut the cord.”
Compare that mentality to the fact that Clinton found a way to work through public humiliation to keep her marriage and her family intact. She was supportive in making her husband successful. If the woman card means not living by the alpha male philosophy, then I don’t mind voting for a woman just because she is a woman.
Meanwhile, my woman card apparently got lost in the male.
Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at Anita@LovableLiberal.com. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.