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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Senatorial sexism

A group called the Ulster County Democratic Women has sent a letter to New York Gov. David Paterson, urging him to appoint a female to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Julie McQuain, the group's president, told a Freeman reporter on Thursday that the group is not advocating for any particular woman, only that whoever is appointed be female.

Excuse me?

Aren't these the same people who, just five months ago, said it was an insult to Democratic women to suggest that Clinton supporters would back GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin simply because Palin and Clinton have genitalia in common?

Now, all of a sudden, any woman will do?

Allow me to repeat something I wrote last August, when commenting about Palin's implication that fellow women should back her simply because she is female: Supporting someone solely because of their gender is as bad as not supporting someone solely because of their gender. It's sexism either way.

My hope is simply that Gov. Paterson appoints to Clinton's seat the most qualified person for the job.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Dr. JAM said...

Perhaps you need to re-read the letter from UCDW. To paraphrase, it says that there are many qualified women to choose from in NYS, NYers had elected a very qualified woman and that since there is not equal gender representation in Congress, it makes sense to fill Senator Clinton's seat with another qualified woman.
To wit "As you know, we have no shortage of qualified, successful women statewide, of all ethnicities and from many professional realms, who contribute much to our great state. Our energetic and diverse population is a great asset. With many working mothers, female heads of household and women business leaders it is vital that we are adequately represented in our government. Yet, according to Eleanor’s Legacy, the US ranks only 69 th world-wide in women office holders. Surprisingly, NY is only 23 rd in the nation, not the standard of leadership that Democratic women, the majority of our party, have a right to expect. . .We do not write to press for a particular candidate--many are qualified, but to ask you not to go backwards by replacing the first woman elected by the people to serve as Senator from NY with another man."

So, it is not just *any* woman,UCDW would like to see representing NYS in the Seanate, it is a *qualified* woman. Just like not all men are alike, neither are women a monolith. Gov. Palin, while a woman unfortunately was, IMHO, not qualified to be Vice President and especially not President.

January 16, 2009 at 8:26 PM 
Blogger Julie McQuain said...

In this post Schiffres ignored the reality that New Yorkers finally voted to send a highly qualified woman to the US Senate for the very first time, then voted to reelect her. It certainly should give the Governor pause to complete that highly qualified woman's term by appointing a man to the office.

The idea that only one person is "best qualified" to be US Senator from a state with 20 million people, something more than half of whom are female, is just silly. He suggests that because UCDW did not recommend a specific candidate in our letter that any old Democratic woman would do, however unqualified or unsuitable by implication. The fact is there are a number of highly qualified women with support among our members so we declined to "endorse" one, as a group. Individual members certainly have made their preferences known to the Governor.

Half of the population, and more than half of Democrats, still are nothing close to equally represented in elected office. Does Schiffres mean that 16% in the US Senate is just fine? That the US should be satisfied at only 69th in the world in women office holders, or that New York State is just fine at 23rd in the nation?

Everyone must understand by now why African Americans (and many others) are rightly thrilled about President-elect Obama, yet some still don't understand how important it is for women, and for girls, also to see themselves represented appropriately.

One last thing, there's no comparison between asking our Governor to appoint a highly qualified woman to succeed Senator Clinton for the balance of her term and his reference to the cynical and insulting "any skirt'll do" selection of Governor Palin to be the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. Now THAT was sexist, and dismissive.

January 16, 2009 at 9:28 PM 
Blogger Sheila Isenberg said...

Having worked at the Freeman many years ago, I am familiar with - and was actually a victim of = the sexism prevalent in that newsroom at that time. Have things changed? I would hope so. Many of us struggled for many years to achieve gender representation and diversity in leadership, and to a certain extent, we have succeeded. But there are still many areas which need improvement, as the city editor's blog indicates.

January 17, 2009 at 5:03 PM 
Blogger Sheila Isenberg said...

Having worked at the Freeman many years ago, I am familiar with - and was actually a victim of = the sexism prevalent in that newsroom at that time. Have things changed? I would hope so. Many of us struggled for many years to achieve gender representation and diversity in leadership, and to a certain extent, we have succeeded. But there are still many areas which need improvement, as the city editor's blog indicates.

January 17, 2009 at 5:03 PM 
Blogger Sheila Isenberg said...

Having worked at the Freeman many years ago, I am familiar with - and was actually a victim of = the sexism prevalent in that newsroom at that time. Have things changed? I would hope so. Many of us struggled for many years to achieve gender representation and diversity in leadership, and to a certain extent, we have succeeded. But there are still many areas which need improvement, as the city editor's blog indicates.

January 17, 2009 at 5:03 PM 

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