Limits and ambitions

A new report says we don’t have more women in politics because they just aren’t that interested:

Extensive research shows that when women run for office, they perform just as well as men. Yet women remain severely under-represented in our political institutions. In this report, we argue that the fundamental reason for women’s under-representation is that they do not run for office. There is a substantial gender gap in political ambition; men tend to have it, and women don’t.

“Ambition” is a bit of a misleading way to put it. Here’s how the study’s authors break it down:

We link this persistent gender gap in political ambition to several factors. Women are less likely than men to be willing to endure the rigors of a political campaign. They are less likely than men to be recruited to run for office. They are less likely than men to have the freedom to reconcile work and family obligations with a political career. They are less likely than men to think they are “qualified� to run for office. And they are less likely than men to perceive a fair political environment.

Most of these things, in my mind, just go back to the fact that we have a fundamentally unfeminist society. Women are saddled with more family obligations, and we have a government that has been unwilling to step in and lighten the load. Girls are bombarded with the message, from a young age, that they should aspire to be pretty, not powerful. (Or that pretty is powerful.) So is it any wonder that grown women doubt their qualifications? Also, saying that women are less likely than men to “be willing to endure the rigors of a political campaign” fails to note that, compared to white men, the campaign trail is a helluva lot more rigorous for women. No wonder they’re less likely than men to “perceive a fair political environment.”
But to me, none of that speaks to ambition. Within the social constraints that are placed on women by a sexist society, how can you expect them to sign up for elections in droves? The two parties are basically boys’ clubs, the media is completely misogynist, there is virtually no government support for working mothers, and women get the message from a very young age that they have to work twice as hard and be twice as good to expect half as much. It’s hard to separate out all this junk and figure out how many women really do harbor higher career ambitions. And how many said they don’t because of these very unfeminist realities about our society. “Women may now think about running for office, but they probably think about it while they are making the bed,” as Beloit College political scientist Georgia Duerst-Lahti put it. For example, would it really be fair to call a single mom with three kids and two jobs “not ambitious” because she doesn’t realistically think she can run for political office? Please.
These are big-picture problems — ones that feminists are working to solve, of course — but huge and pervasive problems nevertheless. Do these things keep women out of politics? Undoubtedly. But are they a problem of ambition? No. I’d wager a guess that if you reform the media, create better support systems for working mothers, and if the two parties actually made an effort to recruit women candidates, we’d see a huge spike in “ambition.”
Until that grand day, of course, we need a backup plan. So I refer you to the She Should Run campaign, which encourages people to push women to run for office, even in this imperfect world. The good news is when you actually ask women to run, they say yes at rates similar to men. I guess they suddenly discover they had ambitions, after all.
(So after I’d written all this I saw that Echidne had a wonderful post along the same lines. Check it out. Great feminist minds…)

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38 Comments

  1. theblondeknowsbest
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Two important things that women can do: support each other and make their ambitions known. So, here it goes.
    I will run for Congress within the next ten years. Let’s start validating our sisters and encouraging them to run.
    The traditional concept of ‘leader’ does not coincide with traditional femininity, let’s create a new template.

  2. erinelizabeth
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know-the report says so, and I’d believe it. There’s also been reports women don’t like science, and that’s true enough, right?

  3. erinelizabeth
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Um, that last comment, if not apparent, was dripping in sarcasm. Stupid html tags!

  4. Noah
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    All due respect, this wasn’t a post, it was a rant replete with conclusory shibboleths that don’t advance any useful discourse on why more women don’t run for office. You believe that women are second-class citizens who don’t choose to assume more family obligations than men but are “saddled� with them. I am sure that my wife and many other women who actually do choose to assume family obligations thank you for your condescending attitude. Then you link to a series of posts alluding to sexism in the Clinton campaign as purported evidence why it is much harder for a woman to run than a white male –all the while ignoring that Mrs. Clinton was the frontrunner for many, many months, that she trounced every white male candidate she faced, and that she was so formidable she kept Gore and Kerry out of the race. Mrs. Clinton’s gender gave her a reservoir of support among older women that no male candidate received from any other class, aside from Obama and the black vote. Then you launch into the same tired shibboleths of victimhood, including this one: “The media is completely misogynist.� This statement is breathtaking in its absurdity and is advanced without any supporting authority. I suggest you are misusing the terms “completely� and “misogynist.�
    None of that is at all useful to really figuring out why women don’t run. The more productive answer is that women don’t run because they assume greater familial responsibilities and often can’t spare the time. One solution, advanced by many people, is to make as many elected offices part-time as possible. All state legislatures started that way, and there is no necessity for having full-time legislators, or full-time city councilpersons. This would bring more young women into the political pool, and then, as their children get older, they will be sufficiently established to run for office that might by necessity be full-time – Governor, Congress, President.
    Even with all that, it is not at all clear that women would run at the same levels men run. Men and women achieve different rewards from competing, a biological factor that is routinely discounted in politically correct discourse. Even still, it is not healthy for a democracy to be pulling most of its elected officials from only one gender. Even if women aren’t as inclined to run for office as men, we need to do what we can to actively encourage it, for the good of the country.

  5. Noah
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    All due respect, this wasn’t a post, it was a rant replete with conclusory shibboleths that don’t advance any useful discourse on why more women don’t run for office. You believe that women are second-class citizens who don’t choose to assume more family obligations than men but are “saddled� with them. I am sure that my wife and many other women who actually do choose to assume family obligations thank you for your condescending attitude. Then you link to a series of posts alluding to sexism in the Clinton campaign as purported evidence why it is much harder for a woman to run than a white male –all the while ignoring that Mrs. Clinton was the frontrunner for many, many months, that she trounced every white male candidate she faced, and that she was so formidable she kept Gore and Kerry out of the race. Mrs. Clinton’s gender gave her a reservoir of support among older women that no male candidate received from any other class, aside from Obama and the black vote. Then you launch into the same tired shibboleths of victimhood, including this one: “The media is completely misogynist.� This statement is breathtaking in its absurdity and is advanced without any supporting authority. I suggest you are misusing the terms “completely� and “misogynist.�
    None of that is at all useful to really figuring out why women don’t run. The more productive answer is that women don’t run because they assume greater familial responsibilities and often can’t spare the time. One solution, advanced by many people, is to make as many elected offices part-time as possible. All state legislatures started that way, and there is no necessity for having full-time legislators, or full-time city councilpersons. This would bring more young women into the political pool, and then, as their children get older, they will be sufficiently established to run for office that might by necessity be full-time – Governor, Congress, President.
    Even with all that, it is not at all clear that women would run at the same levels men run. Men and women achieve different rewards from competing, a biological factor that is routinely discounted in politically correct discourse. Even still, it is not healthy for a democracy to be pulling most of its elected officials from only one gender. Even if women aren’t as inclined to run for office as men, we need to do what we can to actively encourage it, for the good of the country.

  6. Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    “The more productive answer is that women don’t run because they assume greater familial responsibilities and often can’t spare the time.”
    First off, that is EXACTLY what she said (read the “making the bed” quote.
    The whole point is that women don’t “assume” more familial responsibilities; it is because (generally speaking) they are brought up to believe they must and men are brought up to believe they shouldn’t.
    I think the most productive question is why do men have this “spare time” and it seems that all the wimmens are just dying to do more ironing?
    Please.
    P.S. I’m also suspicious of anyone who uses the term “shibboleth”–especially when used twice. It’s a bit pretentious, no?

  7. leah
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    “Men and women achieve different rewards from competing, a biological factor that is routinely discounted in politically correct discourse.”
    That’s because it’s completely unproven biological determinism. If “poltically correct” means discounting crap science and accepting the null hypothesis, then I guess I’m politically correct (and proud of it).

  8. Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    So is it any wonder that grown women doubt their qualifications?
    It’s not about qualifications or having the time. It’s about likelihood of success. We don’t just want them running, we want them winning. If more powerful people supported female candidates, more would run and win.

  9. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    ANN “But to me, none of that speaks to ambition. Within the social constraints that are placed on women by a sexist society, how can you expect them to sign up for elections in droves? ”
    I thought it all directly spoke to ambition. Specifically, those are factors that are squelching female ambition for higher power (competing family demands; dealing with intense appearance scrutiny, etc). Remove those barriers and women’s interests in politics would likely increase.
    NOAH “You believe that women are second-class citizens who don’t choose to assume more family obligations than men but are “saddledâ€? with them. I am sure that my wife and many other women who actually do choose to assume family obligations thank you for your condescending attitude.”
    The point she was making was that women ARE typically saddled with the responsibilities and men are not. Of course many women choose that role. But many women are also shunted into that role because a) They’ve internalized the belief that that’s what they need to do in order to be a good woman/person; b) men are shunted out of that role so women often by default need to take on that role.
    There is a parallel with men – to what extent is it a “choice” to be a breadwinner rather than stay-at-home father when you receive a life-long set of messages that men are supposed to work and not stay home with the kids.
    LEAH “That’s because it’s completely unproven biological determinism. If “poltically correct” means discounting crap science and accepting the null hypothesis, then I guess I’m politically correct (and proud of it).”
    I don’t see any reason to accept/reject the idea that there are biological or evolved differences in this domain. Rejecting the idea of biological differences out of hand is junk science as well.
    The more relevant point for this discussion in my mind is that there are clear institutional barriers that lead to women having less ambition for higher office.

  10. Morph
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Dear Noah:
    If you’d like me to take your tl;dr seriously next time, please refrain from repeatedly and pointedly referring to Senator Clinton as “Mrs. Clinton.”
    If you’d like to continue to have your tl;dr dismissed, then carry on. You’re doing a hell of a job.
    ~’M.

  11. Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Noah! All due respect, but you are a TROLL.
    Noah claims: Men and women achieve different rewards from competing, a biological factor that is routinely discounted in politically correct discourse.
    This is a really ridiculous statement (one of many in his comment). That men and women achieve different rewards from competing is a societal factor, not a biological one. Women who are competitive are punished, men who are competitive are praised. Anyone who doesn’t see examples of this phenomenon 24/7 in every facet of society (especially in the completely misogynist mainstream media) is BLIND.
    Wake up and smell the sexism. And until you do, please don’t post any more pretentious rants. Some of us are busy trying to change the world, thank you.

  12. rileystclair
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    “This statement is breathtaking in its absurdity and is advanced without any supporting authority. I suggest you are misusing the terms “completelyâ€? and “misogynist.â€?”
    Noah, i know this is supposed to be a site for newcomers to feminism and all, but the only way you can make such a statement with a straight face is if you haven’t read anything posted here at ALL. the wonderful women who run this site post examples of media misogyny so stomach-churningly often it’s pretty impossible to read feministing for more than a week without encountering multiple examples.

  13. ShelbyWoo
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Women who are competitive are punished, men who are competitive are praised.
    Here, here! Add to that, women who don’t take on most or all of the family responsibilities are punished, men who take on any (even if it’s just a little) of the family responsibilities are praised.

  14. Amanda Leigh
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Noah: I aggree with your second paragraph starting at “One solution…” But that’s about it. In regards to the rest of the blog, Ann (correct me if I’m wrong) is calling the author’s use of “ambition” into question. I know plenty of women with ambition that are not in politics. It’s not that women aren’t ambitious. It’s that society is not user friendly and is quite unfeminist.
    While reading the “report” and why “women are less likely” to do A, B, and C I continually asked WHY?!?! And I agree with Ann’s statement that it “just go[es] back to the fact that we have a fundamentally unfeminist society.”
    Finally, TheWickedWench said, “P.S. I’m also suspicious of anyone who uses the term “shibboleth”–especially when used twice. It’s a bit pretentious, no?”
    I agree. Twice, really?!?

  15. SarahMC
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Why do the authors of these studies, and the writers who report on the studies, completely ignore the influence gendered socialization has on women’s ambitions and interests?
    “Ambitious” is pejoritive when used to describe women in politics. And yet it’s some big surprise more of us aren’t in the game?
    Noah, your comment comes across like a Crap Email From a Dude (for any Jezebel readers). How patronizing can you get? And of course, you completely discount the role socialization plays in shaping us as men and women.

  16. exelizabeth
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I have been involved with politics. I worked on campaigns for two years after I graduated for college, and I thought I wanted politics to be my career. For the 2006 campaign, I worked 80 hours a week and I didn’t get a permanent job out of it.
    Part of the problem is that Democrats are really bad at mentoring their youth. They just expect you to be dedicated because you’re “fighting to good fight,” but don’t invest in actually retaining your skills. I didn’t find a mentor, I searched for a job in politics for over six months after the election, and I couldn’t find one. No one stepped forward to mentor me. If I would have had a mentor, I likely would have stayed in politics.
    And I live in Washington State, where we have a female governor and two female senators (no congresswomen yet, but we’re hoping for Darcy Burner this year!) and the highest proportion of women in our legislature (I’m pretty sure at least).

  17. exelizabeth
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Lol, SarahMC, that’s so true! There really should be a “Crap Post from a Dude Trolling Feminist Blogs” feature.

  18. heller
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Noah, so I am assuming that when you and your wife got married or had kids that you sat down together and decided who would stay home (or work a reduces schedule). I am assuming that in this discussion the two of you discussed the option of YOU leaving your career to take responsibility for the bulk of family obligations?

  19. heller
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    oops-sorry about the typo and grammatical errors. I should wait until I am finished being pissed off before I post.

  20. sly
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I think the study’s methodology is flawed. From the summary I read it sounds like they interviewed a bunch of mostly male politicians & then came to the startling conclusion that sexism played no role in the political ambitions of women. I do think its a complicated subject however, with as many different reasons as there are women candidates. For the biggest races, sure, media sexism can play a role, I’m not sure it does at the city or county level though (those races tend be won on the basis of network, not media).
    And since the road to Governor or Senator usually starts with the road to mayor the question is why don’t more women pursue local office? Familial responsibilities certainly play a role. One of the reasons, my female classmates told me, that fewer women seek MBAs than seek JDs or MDs is that a MBA is more likely to force a delay in marriage & family. The same is true with a political career; which is why some of our most famous female politicians, say Ann Richards & Nancy Pelosi, delayed entering until their children were older. That makes it more difficult, obviously, to win high office while still middle aged.
    I do have a number of female politician relatives however. Their interest & success (like a lot of male pols frankly) was based either on following family members into politics (husbands, fathers, etc) or–and if we expect broad numbers of women to enter politics then this is the important part–early interest in activism. In fact, though Ann Richards didn’t formally enter politics until later, she was active even when she had young children. I think if we’re to see large numbers of women enter politics it’ll be because we captured their attention and imagination in college.
    Fortunately, I do think that society’s notion of leadership has changed with the success of women trailblazers. I honestly believe most of our female politicians have been highly admired, and their popularity has tended to validate feminist approaches to leadership.

  21. Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Should a woman try to be in politics and a mother at the same time they will get comments such as this: http://www.newstalk650.com/incoming/20080423/children-places-they-dont-belong
    “Amber Jones, what the hell are you trying to prove?
    The 27-year old newly appointed leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party showed up at the Leg yesterday for a media appearance, with her six month old baby in tow.”

  22. Commodore08
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Ambition is just one of these words that is supposed to represent some innate personal quality that people either have or don’t. Like most of these supposed personality traits, it’s completely a result of social factors and social stakes. Ambition in particular is always used to apologize for the status quo. Why are poor people poor and rich people rich? Well, it certainly couldn’t have anything to do with structural social problems. oh, no. Poor people are just unambitious, of course.
    Anyway, Ann and others, you should read this book, “It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office,” by Jennifer Lawless. It goes into all these issues in more depth and turns the idea of ambition on its head…
    Also, MW’s definition of shibboleth (to save others the time it took me to google it): a word or saying used by adherents of a party, sect, or belief and usually regarded by others as empty of real meaning b: a widely held belief c: truism, platitude 2 a: a use of language regarded as distinctive of a particular group b: a custom or usage regarded as distinguishing one group from others

  23. aliceinreality
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    wow, this makes me mad. i’m a girl with pretty strong political ambitions, and i don’t like being told that i just “never had the interest.”
    >_

  24. orchid
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    wickedwench wrote: The whole point is that women don’t “assume” more familial responsibilities; it is because (generally speaking) they are brought up to believe they must and men are brought up to believe they shouldn’t.
    This is exactly the problem. Only when it is not considered almost “perverted” for a man to choose to be the more domestic partner, living in a female led household, will the abusive patriarchal paradigm have any chance of changing.
    To put forth any idea based on the numbers of women in politics or science, or any of the “traditionally male” professions or pursuits as “evidence of their disinterest is far off the mark.
    I completely believe that many more women would be in politics if they were married or in a relationship with a man who did the housework, cooked and in general performed the role of a “wife”. And if the message was not hammered into them that they are outside “their place”.
    I find it very disgusting the gender strait jackets we are taught to accept.
    Our society is stuck in the male-dominated structure and it is this, pure and simple, which serves to keep women outside those roles which threaten the patriarchy.
    david

  25. M.Aloisius
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know how many women are elected to government and how many run?
    I did go through city/state/federal/smartvoter and manually count for parts of California government (I may be off by a little bit due to not double-checking :) :
    California US Legislature:
    38% women
    28% candidates in next election
    California State Senate
    25% women
    22% candidates in the next election
    California State Assembly
    28% women
    27% candidates in the next election
    San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors
    27% women
    23% candidates were women in last election (Nov 2006)
    Now these numbers show women are being heavily underrepresented. The only positives are that the women from California hold some of the top positions (Speaker of the House/third in line to the presidency, Speaker for the State Assembly, Majority Leader for the State Senate, etc.)
    Since I did upcoming elections on most of these, it isn’t possible to tell if there are less women running this election or that women are more likely to be elected when they run.

  26. Nimue
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I recently read a series of essay by psychologists on why women are underrepresented in the sciences, engineering, tech, and maths. One article was about a study showing that women are not “willing” to work as many hours as men, and hence have less career success. The author was oblivious that there are social factors that affect people’s “willingness” to work 60+ hours per week. He was using willingness in the same way that this other author has used “ambition” — as a black box concept, a pre-cultural personality trait, totally unshaped by societal expectations.
    In response to other comments, I believe about 18% of US national politicos are women. It’s about 32% in Rwanda, which is doing the best on this issue.

  27. Mina
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    “In response to other comments, I believe about 18% of US national politicos are women. It’s about 32% in Rwanda, which is doing the best on this issue.”
    Only 32%? I heard closer to 49%, but maybe you’re talking about more politicos than the Inter-Parliamentary Union took into account: http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

  28. jamespi
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    heller,
    I had that discussion with my wife and it went poorly at first since she felt since she had experienced the pregnancy, had given birth and all that comes with it, she should have more of a say, especially if she was the one who wanted to stay home, any tips on how to combat that or is that just the way it is? She has since gone back to her career but it was quite sticky for a long time. Can a man or a husband honestly say to a woman that we are completely equal partners and this choice should be totally 50/50? I’m sure that happens a lot, i just havent seen it yet.

  29. Peter
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Extensive research shows that when women run for office, they perform just as well as men. Yet women remain severely under-represented in our political institutions. In this report, we argue that the fundamental reason for women’s under-representation is that they do not run for office. There is a substantial gender gap in political ambition; men tend to have it, and women don’t.
    I’m calling bullsh*t on this.
    Many countries in europe, and particularly Scandinavia have close to 40 or 50% female representation in their national legislatures.
    I really don’t think there’s a gender specific, causal relationship for women not wanting to serve in politics. I think there’s a lot of structural reasons for why women in this country find it harder to be elected to public office.
    I’m quite sure the pro-family public policies the scandinavians, and other european countries have, make it easier for women to have political careers. I’m sure there’s lots of other structural reasons too.

  30. qwerty
    Posted May 30, 2008 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    “Extensive research shows that when women run for office, they perform just as well as men.”
    Citation?
    How do you gauge political performance objectively?

  31. Posted May 30, 2008 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Thoughtful post. There’s a similar controversy over lack of women in engineering and IT jobs, with studies into whether women are simply “interested” or not:
    http://www.gender-pop.com

  32. A male
    Posted May 30, 2008 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    “But to me, none of that speaks to ambition. Within the social constraints that are placed on women by a sexist society, how can you expect them to sign up for elections in droves?”
    I do not believe that women in general lack ambition. They can have goals as high as men do. For example, Sen. Clinton is hardlly the first woman/girl to declare she will be President. (Condoleezza Rice said as much when visiting the White House at 11 years old. And she became a PhD, served on the board of directors for a variety of influential corporations, and became Provost at Stanford. Then her political career – sheesh. She’s like one of my favorite women, and she should have had her boss’ job. Her or Colin Powell.) The difference between men and women is the barriers on the way to achieving those goals (like in the OP example, being a single mother of three), that some may feel it is not worth the battle.
    P.S. One of my nursing instructors went through school including getting a master’s degree while caring for both her ailing parents and with two children. She got straight A’s. She said that people should be able to get all A’s if they applied themselves. Her own method of studying was doing so until she could recite pages of text from memory. Note: a single masters level nursing text may have 1400 pages with no pretty illustrations or photos – another instructor showed it to us. (THAT masters student also has two children, is active in their school activities, cares for horses, and teaches undergrads full time, while making her own clinical rounds at the hospital.) With this challenge in mind, I got a 3.87 GPA my first year (one B – shit – but then that was a class that only 14 students out of 38 passed, and they had to continue school on probation. All but three made it to graduation in the RN program, and perhaps only one is not yet working as an RN – because she is picky). This was the first time ever I had ever gotten A’s with no B’s, and for two semesters straight. (The killer class was a summer program.) After my symptoms began showing themselves, well, then I had a semester of 2.5.

  33. A male
    Posted May 30, 2008 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    “It’s not about qualifications or having the time. It’s about likelihood of success. We don’t just want them running, we want them winning. If more powerful people supported female candidates, more would run and win.”
    Considering the fact that so few voters actually turn out (e.g., one can be elected President with support from only about a quarter of registered voters – even then, those who bothered to register), and there are more female voters, female candidates could win on numbers alone, if ordinary people voted. Some Australians make much of the fact that they are legally obligated to vote.
    At the very least, more Americans should learn more about important issues rather than being swayed by such as a simple “Read my lips: no new taxes,” or crying during an emotional public appearance (1972 Democratic candidate Sen. Muskie defending his wife back in the day). If prospective politicians got shot down for every misspeak, inaccuracy, untruth or questions about their private lives, there wouldn’t be many left. And folks would have a hard time trusting those about whom there is claimed to be nothing wrong.

  34. Destra
    Posted May 30, 2008 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Since I was a little girl my two ambitions in life were to become a lawyer, and to become a Senator.

  35. Posted May 30, 2008 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Oh Noah,
    You had me till the word “biological”. May I offer a DVD prescription:
    Please rent Adams Rib.
    Biologically, I am not identical to other women, certainly not a lot like Serena Williams. Are you biologically more like a defensive end, Ru Paul, me? It doesn’t matter.
    Biology is more than genitals. Cultural conditioning is more than a husbands point of view. If you have a daughter or plan to have one some day, I hope you wont limit her because of what you think she is biologically capable or not capable of.

  36. tangotulip
    Posted May 30, 2008 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Perhaps women are ambivalent about going into politics because they’ve been scared straight by the spectacle of their predecessors being demonized and accused of engaging in “oppression olympics” every time they open their mouths to speak out about the problems women face in the world. I’m just saying.

  37. Virago
    Posted May 30, 2008 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    “You believe that women are second-class citizens who don’t choose to assume more family obligations than men but are “saddledâ€? with them. I am sure that my wife and many other women who actually do choose to assume family obligations thank you for your condescending attitude.”
    Thanks for your condescending attitude on speaking for women who “choose” to assume family obligations. I’ve seen enough studies, surveys, and testimonies as well as my own personal experience to know what women think on this topic. There is a big difference between choosing to assume family obligations and being forced to do the majority of the childcare and housework because your husband refuses to help out while expecting you to pick up after him and give him sex on demand. It doesn’t matter if the woman works full-time or is a SAHM. The story is always the same. As for speaking on behalf of your wife, I’ve read your troll views, and I can imagine the kind of relationship you probably have.

  38. heller
    Posted May 30, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Jamespi-In this case it does sound like your wife CHOSE to stay home. My comment was really just for Noah, who does not seem to have given much thought to why a woman would CHOSE to stay home.
    For instance, from the outside, it might seem like it was my choice to stay home. My husband and I did not want to put a baby in childcare. When I decided to have a baby I got really sick and exhausted, but not sick enough for early maternity leave, so I ended up having to quit my job. Then I had horrible post-partum depression. all told, I couldn’t work for 9 months. By the time I could work again, I couldn’t find a job that paid nearly what I was making before. I also couldn’t get health care. I had to schedule my hours around my husbands hours, because he has to keep working full-time so that we would have health benefits. If more employers offered flex-time, telecommuting, and some benefits to part time workers, we would have actually had a choice about who stayed home. In fact, we wouldn’t have had to choose. We would probably both be working part-time, and taking care of our kids part-time.
    I agree with your wife. It shouldn’t be exactly 50/50. Since our society is generally misogynist, women should “get the extra chip” in a relationship. Since your wife if going to be subtly and not-so-subtly discriminated against, deferring to her makes your relationship somewhat equal.

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