If you’re not familiar with Wendy Davis, she’s a state representative in Texas and a prominent attorney whose recent claim to fame was conducting a whopping eleven hour-long filibuster that helped block Senate Bill 5 which included increased restrictions in abortion regulations throughout the state. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Sounds familiar? Remember last year seeing pictures of that woman in Congress wearing hot pink gym shoes? Yeah, that’s her and that’s part of the problem. I believe that if you poll most people in the country they would know what she wore to the filibuster more than the issue she was actually fighting for.
Recently State Sen. Davis has come under fire for her parenting acumen because she chose to pursue an education and oh yeah, a career as well. Heaven forbid, a woman wanting to make something of herself professionally while trying to juggle having kids. The audacity, right? What a bunch of BS. If she were a man (Wendell? Davis) it would just be assumed that even though he has a kid or two he’d branch out and do other things such as getting higher education degrees and whatnot. No one would expect Wendell to stay at home and take care of the rugrats. Wendell would be free to pursue his educational and professional goals, no questions asked. Wendy isn’t so lucky. Her decisions have put her in the hot seat which I feel is a mindset that is best left behind in the 1950s. Not only are we supposed to be living in an age of increasing gender equality, but there are more than enough examples of other women who have already taken the same path with shining success. Women achieving in politics should not be a shock anymore, yet sadly, it still draws the wrong sort of attention more often than it should.
No matter their track record of career and familial achievement, women who foray into politics aren’t exempt from traditional, antiquated sexism from the pundits and media. No one ever comments on the suit Bill Clinton wore to last night’s humanitarian gala. President Obama doesn’t have to worry about being ruthlessly cut down for a new haircut. Yet with female politicians this happens all the time. They’re put under just as much scrutiny as A-list actresses walking the red carpet. The big difference is that these actresses make their money being the object of attention. Our women politicians, on the other hand, they’re not in it for style points. They just want to be a part of government — a leader and a part of change for this great country of ours — not have their choice of earrings or hairstyle criticized on the cover of US Weekly. Until society can become blind to gender bias and stop putting every woman in the public eye on a platform that ranks them based on aesthetics, how are our young women going to know what’s more important?