Now, more than ever, women are running and winning political office! Women now hold 144 of 539 seats—or 27% in the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 117th Congress—the highest percentage in U.S. history. Of those elected, 51 (36%) are women of color. This figure represents a 50% increase from the 96 women who were serving in the 112th Congress a decade ago.
But running for office is not enough! We are more than demographic statistics! More than a constituency to be courted! Representation is good, but a first, not a final step!
What women stand for counts! The conditions of women’s lives and their experiences affect how women see the world. The “gender gap,” the disparity in voting patterns between men and women, shows that women more than men oppose war and domestic violence, are more likely to advocate for gun control, childcare, reproductive rights, violence prevention, education, equal rights, and equal pay.
These issues are critical to women’s lives. But women should not and will not be confined to only these issues. Women must raise their voices and put forward a broad and bold agenda that shows how women, children and family concerns are integral parts of issues involving climate change, income inequality, poverty, welfare, social security, incarceration, health care access and quality, education, and job training. I call this approach, “Casting an Intersectional Gendered Eye on Social Issues and Public Policies.”
The CoVid 19 pandemic and economic recession has hit women, particularly women of color, the hardest.
We are ready to speak up and act!
What casting a gendered eye looks like
A gendered eye takes an intersectional approach to women as the starting point for analysis and asks how social issues, public policy, and culture affect women and, in turn, how women’s inclusion in those discussions transforms the way we interpret the world.
A gendered eye is smart public policy
Pundits, politicians, preachers, and teachers rhetorically use the words “mankind” and “humanity” as if these terms embrace all our different lived experiences. Women are not to be subsumed under this overarching umbrella. Women did not spring forth from Adam’s rib as the Bible says. Nor does one size fit all. Women are a diverse group differentiated by their racial, ethnic, religious, economic, physical disabilities, sexual orientations, gendered identities, and cultural backgrounds.
An intersectional, gendered analysis deconstructs this overarching patriarchal umbrella, enabling women to come to the table from a position of strength and awareness of their commonalities (and differences) empowered to resist the one percent’s divide and conquer strategy to disempower and marginalize the disenfranchised.
As a lifelong feminist, sociologist, gender policy analyst, and progressive activist, I’m committed to critical thinking and political action. I speak up to cast a gendered eye on social and political issues, to help progressive women get elected, and to advise progressive organizations and campaigns to incorporate an intersectional, gendered analyses into their campaign platforms. ballot initiatives, and policy proposals.