Kirsten Gillibrand: The women’s movement is stalled

I’ve got me a bone to pick with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

It was my mom who actually got pissed while watching Morning Joe last week and brought this conversation to my attention where Gillibrand, Tina Brown and others discuss the state of women in politics. No, it wasn’t the part where she talks about how women can be useful politicians because we’re better listeners than men — it was her contention that women don’t want their voices to be heard. Literally.

She says:

One of my biggest worries right now is too many women are sitting on the sidelines – they’re not engaged, they’re not interested, they don’t want their voices to be heard – they think their voices don’t matter, they think their vote doesn’t count. And  this is a pervasive problem – and one that really impacts elections. For example, in the last election, the democrats lost – 51% voted for republicans, the previous election 56% of women voted for President Obama. So women’s voices do matter, they do create an impact on the electoral results, but the reality is that we still have 17% women in the Senate, less than that in the House, and this was the first year the percentage of women in the House went down – and that is a terrible statistic.

And what I want to do is to work on getting women off the sidelines to at least engage in the issues – if they don’t even want to run for office, at least care and then weigh in, have your voice be heard so whether it’s equal pay, whether it’s access to capital for women-owned businesses, whether it’s national security and terrorism, whether it’s health care, affordability of daycare, affordability of college – those are an array of issues that women care about and letting them be heard on those issues, so we have to shake things up. I think your conference Tina was extraordinary, it was a discussion about women worldwide are facing and why they’re not engaging why their participation can make such a difference in a community or on the world stage.

So this is something that Nora, Tina, and Mika – all of us – we have to take responsibility as a nation to do something about this because the women’s movement is stalled. We are not moving forward, we are literally fighting the same battles of our mothers and our grandmothers and if we don’t wake up and we don’t start engaging, we will not like what we find and that’s exactly the kind of thing Tina and I were talking about at her conference…

Sigh. I’ve always been a huge fan of Gillibrand and her support for issues like LGBT and reproductive rights, but it’s statements like this that completely invisibilize the millions of women in this country who are out there pushing the movement forward. I can’t help thinking about the tons of women’s organizations who’ve helped her get elected. I also can’t help wondering how many women supporters and donors she has. And lastly, I won’t lie that it pisses me off she seems to imply that it’s just folks like herself and Tina Brown who are trying to engage women.

Let me be clear that I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with trying to mobilize women who aren’t politically active, because of course there are folks out there who aren’t. But how can you say they don’t want their voices heard when you’re the one speaking for them? Because that is one of the biggest lessons we here at Feministing have learned — young women do want their voices heard, they just need a platform to do it. We’re here, we’re engaged, and we sure as hell don’t have a stalled movement. Our hundreds of thousands of readers every month at this blog alone is proof of that.

Rant over.

(You can get full transcript on MSNBC.)

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