Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Grrrl Power In The Senate

Sixteen women now in the United States Senate. Eek! They are everywhere! Hide!

Women are also around 51% of the American population, and the mismatch between this little fact and the male dominance of most of American politics is one of those topics which brings in the most extreme and unproven theories about why women are so rare in the corridors of power as to be, perversely, quite noticeable. All you need is one Hillary Clinton, talked about everywhere, to make it look to a misogynist as if the immediate takeover of the world by estrogen-crazed petticoat armies is already well advanced.

What isn't discussed quite as often is the way a two-party system with the winner-takes-all thingy makes it much harder for women to be elected, especially to the Senate, where a Senator represents the whole state. Now, women are fairly used to being represented by men but neither women nor men are quite as used to being represented by women, and all sorts of deeply hidden fears crop up when it looks like that lady with the mascara is going to be a stand-in for Joe Sixpack. Or Jane Sixpack, but note how we tend to think of the "man-in-the-street" in this context.

Countries with multi-party systems tend to have more women in politics. Also more representatives of various types of minority groups.