Jewish Journal

Michele Bachmann Is Setting Women Back

by Tamara Shayne Kagel

September 26, 2011 | 2:50 pm

There are a lot of unfortunate sentiments that have come from the Republican Party of late – Santorum’s rebuke of a gay soldier, Perry’s love affair with the death penalty, Romney’s cowardice on healthcare.  But none will have the lasting impact that Congressman Michele Bachmann’s idiocy will have on the plight of women in politics.  Bachmann is pretty and feminine and running for President.  She is similar to Sarah Palin of course in that way – they are unmistakably womanly.  It’s easy to imagine them taking care of their kids, laughing with friends, or even getting frisky in the bedroom.  They dress well and aren’t afraid to wear a lot of pink tops, red lipstick, or knee-high black boots.  And yet, they both just say the stupidest things.  Normally, when members of the GOP dig themselves into a hole I wouldn’t be one to complain, but Michele Bachmann, like Palin is giving women a bad name – women like me.  And I’m really annoyed about it all.  Because I’m not going to change and I deserve to be taken just as seriously.

There have been incredible female American politicians: Hilary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Senators Feinstein and Boxer, Geraldine Ferraro, Congresswomen Pelosi, I even thought pretty highly of Meg Whitman though I didn’t vote for her.  But none of these women are fun and flirty.  Not that I think that’s something any candidate needs to be.  Of course, all candidates should be judged on much more important things like their abilities, positions, character, etc.  And I would never suggest that the incredibly accomplished aforementioned women should be anything they are not or change in any way.  But let’s say that you are not a hard-nosed, austere, hard-hitting woman who exudes masculine energy.  Let’s say you are fun and flirty or pretty and like four inch heels; well, this kind of woman also shouldn’t have to change.  She should also be judged on her knowledge of the issues and positions and character. 

Which brings me back to Bachmann and Palin.  They have or least had the potential to break the mold.  They are the first women on the national political scene that have remained womanly.  They exude softness and femininity instead of projecting a tough masculine persona.  I am in no way suggesting one is better than the other.  But women should have the freedom to be whatever kind of woman they want and still pursue whatever they want to do. Women shouldn’t have to become like men to compete equally with men.  Feminism for me is not about allowing women to become more and more like men.  I don’t think women will truly be equal with men till we can compete equally while still feeling girly if we want. 

Bachmann really had the potential to break through this glass ceiling.  People were taking her seriously as the potential GOP nominee.  So it pains me, every time I hear another stupid thing she says because she is setting back women – specifically the type of woman I am and likely will continue to be.  And it’s especially heartbreaking because if Palin really was the first woman to attempt this cross-over and Bachmann is the second, I’m worried that a pattern is emerging.  If all the hot womanly politicians are idiots who think homosexuality is bondage and exploit people’s fear about safe vaccinations that prevent cancer and that carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, then the American public is going to continue to perpetuate the stereotype that feminine women are ditzy and the only women we can take seriously in politics are that ones that have short hair and wouldn’t even wear a low-cut shirt to bed. 

The rest of the world doesn’t seem to have this problem.  There are hot female politicians all over the world, none of them seem to need to write notes on their hand and seem of them seem to have topless photos floating around the internet to boot!  So I’m taking Michele Bachmann’s stupidity very personally right now.  How are we ever going to get a woman that looks like her to be taken seriously when the only examples so far are so close to lunacy, most of the country will never take them seriously?  At this point, I just want her gone - off the political stage so that we still leave some room for a similar type of woman to be taken seriously in politics.  My dream isn’t just to have a woman in the White House one day.  It’s to have a woman in Louboutin heels standing in the White House.

Tamara Shayne Kagel is a writer living in Santa Monica, CA. To find out more about her, visit www.tamarashaynekagel.com and follow her on twitter @tamaraskagel. © Copyright 2011.

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Tamara Shayne Kagel is a twenty-something fixture on the Los Angeles scene currently living in Santa Monica.  Currently, Tamara is a successful freelance writer (just ask her...

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