Politics & Policy

Sex and the Mile High City

It's still a man's world, a roomful of powerful women complain.

Denver — “Grandma, grandpa turned gray and you turned blonde.”

As Democrats prepared to convene in the Mile High City, California Democrat Barbara Boxer stood before a group of “Unconventional Women” on Monday afternoon, relaying a kids-say-the-darndest-things story. Grandma Boxer responded, she reported, “Yes, it’s a miracle from God.”

Or maybe it was Miss Clairol.

#ad#Boxer’s real-life humor provided a bonding moment with all the unnatural blondes in the room, but it masked a bitterness that was the reason for the women to get together and have their own events here. The Unconventional Women forum, organized by a coalition of feminist groups, gathered at the Denver Performing Arts Center to lick their collective wounds.

“Rumors of our progress are greatly exaggerated,” fumed liberal Democratic congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from New York, not sharing Boxer’s light touch.

Don’t misunderstand. At least there was Hillary. Thanks to her run for president, “Every woman in America is standing a little bit taller,” Maloney proclaimed to the other unconventional conventioneers, adding that Clinton “won the debates, in my opinion.”

But Maloney captured the feelings of many in the theater in calling the Democratic primaries “the best of times . . . and the worst of times” for women. During the primaries, the dark underbelly of misogyny was revealed, as skits on Saturday Night Live made clear, Maloney said. Her defeat was therefore a “symbol of the work and barriers that are there for women.”

Maloney’s still fighting the lost Equal Rights Amendment (literally). “We tell our daughters they can do anything [but] we can’t even say they are equal in our Constitution.”

Michelle Obama obviously feels her sisters’ frustration, being careful to herald Hillary Clinton for “those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters — and our sons — can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.” Claire McCaskill, who was also at the Unconventional Women forum earlier in the day, told Monday night’s convention that John McCain won’t “stand up for the dreams of our daughters,” because he doesn’t buy-in to bogus complaints of a so-called wage gap.

When Michelle Obama talks about “the world as it should be,” the Unconventional Women think: a female candidate. Sure, it’s great that women have some stage time at the convention, but they won’t consider it real progress until the show is all about one of us. Not only is the Democratic nominee a man, the convention is clearly run by them or “we wouldn’t plan political events in the busiest two weeks of every mother’s life,” former Massachusetts liberal Republican governor Jane Swift declared Monday, bemoaning the convention’s back-to-school start.

#page#

Smith, among the bitter ones, bemoans the state of the world (much like Mrs. Obama) and of politics. “I don’t think the guys are going to be able to revive the profession and reputation.” Swept up in the victimology. this old-boy-network charge draws some nods and applause, investigations into the misuse of government resources in the Swift administration notwithstanding. If it a woman, it’s different. We’re owed.

Swift, of course, speaks from a position of a woman trying to do her best in multiple vocations, a frequently impossible task to pull off full-time. It’s odd to hear women so wedded to the word “choice” during abortion debates refuse to recognize that role that choice — in favor of family commitment, rather than career advancement — plays in what so many professional feminist and politicians portray as gender oppression.

#ad#The good news, though, is Joe Biden. Yeah, he’s a man — but he’s a submissive one. He has a cameo in a documentary Blanche Lincoln and Barbara Boxer’s daughters put together about the women of the Senate, 14 Women (it’s dated: there are 16 now, and Boxer is counting on 18 before long). After we hear about the regular bipartisan get-togethers the women of the Senate hold, Biden declares “they get together and cross party lines like we used to.” Apparently duos like Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy, John McCain and Russ Feingold, etc., don’t count because . . . well, we’re so over white men in politics.

Rest assured, guys. You’re still good for something. Some of you are bringing sexy back. At the Unconventional Women event, Dem Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar shared a personal story. One day, she saw her husband walking with a pink box. What was he doing? “I’m going to Jim Webb’s wife’s baby shower.” Sen. Klobuchar gushed to the gathered gals: “That’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

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