10
Jun
10

gendered politics and logical fallacies

totally beat you to the seat

You might have gathered, even underneath wall-to-wall coverage all the awesome stuff going on right now, that 12 states held their Congressional and/or gubernatorial primaries yesterday. It doesn’t have too much to do with this post, but it’s very reassuring that democracy and the political noise machine keep running hot even when it seems like the whole world is in tatters. Jon Stewart, of course, puts it best:

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Thank you indeed. Still, buried beneath the gender and sexuality mess that this Daily Show segment comments on and contributes to, there’s an important point to be had about elections in today’s climate: female candidates are doing incredibly well. The media, always quick to look for a trend, has seized on this narrative with all kinds of extrapolations, like in this Huffington Post by Cal Professor Robin Lakoff:
Women are still seen as newcomers to the old-boys’ networks, not involved in the wheeling and dealing characteristic of modern electoral politics — uncorrupted and maybe even incorruptible. …We don’t envision them playing games along with men in their smoke-filled rooms. Women are pure. Women raise our children. So we are loath to see women as no better than anyone else.
Only a little bit of selective editing went into that quotation, but you can doubtless see that the media’s really into turning this trend of serious women as serious candidates into something other than a case of quality candidates (or perhaps not so quality candidates) running quality races. Still, there are plenty of outlets that see the dubiousness of that logical leap. Take it away, Washington Post:
[Female candidates’] male opponents attacked them — relentlessly, in some cases — apparently unworried about being seen as picking on a woman. The women touched on their gender, but did so sparingly. And they made few appeals to traditional women’s issues.
Word. I doubt many voters voted for yesterday’s successful women because they’re women; more likely, voters liked the candidates’ positions, records, ideological identifications- the factors that usually inform our choices of candidates.
Still, that’s an encouraging thing. We should always select the best candidate for the job based on what we know about them, regardless of their gender/race/sexuality/jump shooting/liquor shooting. Hopefully the long trend we see towards greater numbers of female major players will continue as a result of their qualities as candidates, not their abundance/lack of “femininity.”
And, by the way, Washington voters have been doing just that for years– powerhouse senior Senator Patty Murray has been in the Senate since 1992, when junior Senator Maria Cantwell won her first Congressional election. Yeah, we’re pretty cool.
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