October 2, 1992 · Cavalier Daily

Potential Tokenism Ruins Feminist Cause

A discussion of several female Congressional candidates, including Lynn Yeakel, Carol Mosely, Barbara Boxer, and Diane Feinstein.


Cavalier Daily Oct 2, 1992 - Potential Tokenism Ruins Feminist Cause.pdf
Pat Riccards
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Potential Tokenism Ruins Feminist Cause
Pat Riccards
Feminists have issued the call, and several women have seen fit to answer it.
Over the past several years, feminists have highlighted the in the U.S. Congress regarding the presence of women in the legislative process. But with the of Lynn Yeakel in Pennsylvania, Carol Mosley Braun in Illinois and Barbara and Diane Feinstein in California, the makeup of Congress appears to be on the verge of a facelift.
Yet, while voters hope these women have entered the race for noble reasons, whether to help their individual or the nation as a whole, to put forth an individual program or to simply work to improve American life, there is the ever present reminder that the future of government is not in all of the candidates [sic] best interests.
A case in point is Yeakel, the ever-slipping opponent for Sen. Arlen Spector's seat. Her primary victory was quick and effective. But she ran her campaign based on one issue, the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill affair. Yeakel feels, as many do, that Hill was treated unfairly by the Senate in general, and in particular by Spector and his ruthless cross-examination.
This outrage at Spector’s behavior prompted Yeakel to enter the race. She wanted to punish Spector for his actions, and in the process gain a spot for herself on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Unfortunately, Yeakel forgot to put together an effective campaign strategy and an effective platform. In her quest to be the savior of women everywhere, she forgot to deal with the campaign issues at hand.
Yes, Spector and Yeakel were, several months ago, in a statistical dead heat. But as last week’s state poll shows, Spector has opened up a 21-point lead over his Democratic opponent.
Several people think Spector is only ahead because more men were asked or the poll consisted of some other unanticipated discrepancy. But a breakdown of the poll shows Spector leading even among women in Pennsylvania, even if it is by only a point or two.
Why can’t Yeakel run a closer race, in a state that is usually viewed as democratic? The answer is simple. Yeakel is uninformed on the issues, as her failure to recognize the 1991 Civil Rights Bill by another name indicated. She has mispronounced the names of several towns she has visited within her own state. candidate who can work on their behalf.
This belief is preposterous. Spector has one of the best documented voting records on women's issues. He has worked for child care in the work place and is even a proponent of abortion rights.
The problem facing this nation is not the Pennsylvania race itself but the image and possible that it presents. It is dangerous to believe that a candidate should be elected based solely on physical characteristics. Choosing candidates based solely on sex undermines our current desire to vote in a more effective Congress.
Yet there are people who not only believe all of the female candidates in this year’s race should win, but also that women must gain Senate and House seats until they possess the 51 percent that their share of the population calls for.
This premise is ridiculous. The purpose of the election process is to vote for whom the constituency feels will best serve them. It is not to provide a more balanced representative body, nor is it to create a greater strife in the male versus female debate.
If a candidate, male or female, wishes to serve in office they must undergo the election as any other candidate. This means appealing to all voters, preparing an effective campaign platform and following through, to the best of their abilities, on promises made.
What remains puzzling is that if women really desire such a high representation rate in the Congress, why are they not running office?
We have made a great deal over the 10 female Senate candidates. Yes, it is a rather impressive number, but why are aspirations only set the Senate? There are currently 435 seats up for grabs in the House, meaning there are close to 870 major party candidates involved in the House races.
Yet, simple math would tell you that 51 percent of the candidates are not female. In fact, the number of women running for the House is nowhere near 440.
Are women being intimidated from running? Are they victims of a biased system? Are thye being set aside in a “male-dominated” institution?
Or, are they simply not actively pursuing public office?
Citizens cannot be blamed for not wanting to pursue public office. Personal life becomes a thing of the past. Long hours keep you from your loved ones.
And, what many people believe, the salary is not enough to maintain the two separate residences needed.
But, just as we can sympathize with a candidate choosing not to run, we cannot be asked to serve as a politically correct populace designed solely to rid the world of the male presence. Simply because a candidate is a woman does not give her the right to demand a seat from her constituency.
This is not an argument that politics or government is fair and just. On the contrary, there is indeed a desperate need for a greater balance of gender and race in our representative bodies.
But election based these criteria poses the threat of tokenism in our representation. This practice will result in the demise of equality within the Congressional chambers.
The general public already feels that a token woman is placed in the president's cabinet. For several decades, the mention of the position of labor has drawn giggles and the following question “who is she?”
We do not want to do the same to the Congress, for it is already the butt of enough jokes. We must vote on candidates based on their ideas and plans and not their sex.
Otherwise, we are destined to be represented by a candidate who sells well to the public, rather than who delivers the goods when the time comes.
And isn’t that how we got into our problems in the first place?
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Date Added June 29, 2015
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Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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