Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Definition of Juvenile

What do college freshmen who sit outside the cafeteria line and hold up rating cards for young women as they exit the line with their trays and Not Larry Sabato have in common?

They define juvenile, i.e., "displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity."

At the risk of being accused of lacking a sense of humor, I have to say that the NLS contest to rate the "hottest" woman candidate or wife of a candidate is demeaning.

The contest equates the women leaders who run for office with the supporting cast of spouses who help men run and reduces both to unwilling beauty queens. The contest diminishes the victories of successful candidates like Anne Crockett-Starke. And, the contest illustrates the double-binds that women who seek to lead confront. Can one be both feminine and competent? See, Women and Leadership: Beyond the Double Binds by Kathleen Hall Jamieson for more on this subject.

Virginia is in the bottom ten of all states in the percentage of women in our legislature. In part, this is because of the double standard women confront when they seek to serve us as part-time citizen legislators. If they are single, they must put up with rumors about their sexuality. If they are attractive, they must put up with rumors about who they are sleeping with. If they have small children, they are attacked for putting themselves first and worst.

Men, e.g., Mark Earley and Bob Marshall, have large families with small children that they left to serve in the legislature without criticism. Yet, Eileen Filler-Corn met a barrage of negative sniping when she sought election to the House of Delegates because she had two school age children at home.

Men don't have to put up with stuff like the NLS contest, or the ongoing running commentary women face regarding their looks, clothing choices, hairstyles, etc., as a price of public service.

No wonder more men than women indicate an interest in running for office. See, Fox, Gender, Political Ambition and the Decision Not to Run for Office at page 5.

Bottom line here for me ...

Grow up, NLS.


Not Larry Sabato said...

Claire, god bless. Hang in there while we crown a champion.

CG2 said...

Love the picture. Would that either you or Larry had such a body. Then, it might be worth having a contest among the guys.

Seriously, is this silly contest the best way to build your reputation as a serious surveyor of the Virginia political scene?


Not Larry Sabato said...

Again, I'm really sorry we disagree, but this is an important vote.

Ben Kyber said...

This exchange is quite possibly one of the more entertaining things I've ever seen.

For the record, I'm with Claire. I wouldn't vote in that contest. Its pretty bad.

CG2 said...

Thanks, Ben. It is actually quite remarkable that NLS has been able to run this contest without much fuss or ado. But, I guess that's simply a testament to how few take him seriously on this or, increasingly, on other subjects.


Virginia Centrist said...

" Again, I'm really sorry we disagree, but this is an important vote."

Ha ha ha ha