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Sat Dec 1, 2018, 08:41 AM

 

A reflection on ageism against women in politics

Ageism is a particular problem for women in politics, who, unlike their male counterparts, didn't have the freedom or opportunity to launch careers at a young age that enabled them to develop the requisite experience earlier in their lives. Because of discrimination or a decision to raise families (something men could do while building careers but women had to do as an either/or) or a combination of both, many women weren't able to start laying the groundwork for leadership roles until later in life. And now, when despite a late start, they do manage to catch up through sheer hard work, smarts and grit, they're dismissed because they're too old - or euphemistically, "it's time for new blood."

It's a Catch-22 for these women - the years they put in are used against them - "she's been around too long" - without any recognition that for many of those years they were "around," they didn't have any realistic opportunity to move into leadership positions. Yet they toiled away under that glass ceiling, supporting the cause with dedication and skill, while their male counterparts whisked past them, onward and upward . But now that the opportunities are available (opportunities they earned), they get no credit, only demerits, for all those years of experience.

Many of the powerful women we see men trying to push aside fall into this category: Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Diane Feinstein - all women who started their political careers later in life. It's one of the reasons I was delighted to see Barbara Lee moved into a newly-created leadership position after being edged out as Caucus Chair by a younger man, likely because she wasn't a fresh enough face.

Unless and until we acknowledge and address this historical double standard and women have had a full opportunity to catch up, I'm not buying the "we need new blood" argument used against older women in power. Thanks to the long history of rampant discrimination, older women (and older minorities, for that matter) ARE new blood.

I, for one, am thankful they fought the good fight and are still willing to stay in the game. Their wisdom and experience enrich and benefit us all.

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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply A reflection on ageism against women in politics (Original post)
EffieBlack Dec 2018 OP
Ohiogal Dec 2018 #1
MLAA Dec 2018 #2
sagesnow Dec 2018 #3
JudyM Dec 2018 #4
dsc Dec 2018 #5
EffieBlack Dec 2018 #6
crazycatlady Dec 2018 #7
EffieBlack Dec 2018 #8
yardwork Dec 2018 #9
EffieBlack Dec 2018 #10
pnwmom Dec 2018 #14
yardwork Dec 2018 #16
nolabear Dec 2018 #11
JHan Dec 2018 #12
dlk Dec 2018 #13
pnwmom Dec 2018 #15

Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 08:44 AM

1. Agree 100%. Effie

Well stated.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 08:44 AM

2. 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏻👏🏽👏🏿👏 Excellent OP.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 08:52 AM

3. You are so correct.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 09:01 AM

4. Absolutely. And true in other fields as well.

E.g., Hollywood women have reported this for years. Ageism across the spectrum is particularly pernicious against women.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 09:05 AM

5. I brought this up a few months ago

When she was first named leader of the Democrats in 2003 she had been in Congress only slightly longer than Ryan was when he became Speaker. He started unusually young to be sure but she started unusually old thanks to having to raise children. She had been in office 15 and a half years when she became Minority leader in 2003, Paul Ryan was in office for 16 and 3/4 years. Not a huge difference.

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Response to dsc (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 12:55 PM

6. Exactly!

 

He was able to start young because he didn't have to choose between raising a family and having a political career. So he first ran for Congress when he was 29 years old.

On the other hand, Pelosi was 47 years old when she first joined Congress after raising her children and working in state politics. In 1969, when she was 29 - the age Ryan was when he first went into national politics - a seat in Congress was not a viable career option for a young mother.

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Response to EffieBlack (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 02:18 PM

7. I didn't realize Ryan was elected at 29

I wonder if all of the Foxbots that call AOC inexperienced are aware of this fact.

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Response to crazycatlady (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 02:27 PM

8. He was actually just 28

 

Born January 29, 1970, sworn in on January 3, 1999. ..

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 02:36 PM

9. Excellent post. Also, you led me to think about African American support for Hillary.

African American voters were strongly supportive of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. I think of the highly respected older women who have played leadership roles in the civil rights movement, from the local to the national level. From the older black women who volunteer at my polling place every year without fail, making sure that all votes count, to the older women who show up with their walkers to march, no matter what the weather, to revered national figures like Coretta Scott King.

Maybe African American voters are more supportive of older female politicians, because of the leadership roles that older black women have played in the civil rights movement?

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Response to yardwork (Reply #9)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 03:49 PM

10. Excellent point!

 

I think you're absolutely rIght!

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Response to yardwork (Reply #9)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 03:20 AM

14. That makes sense. I bet you're right. And also,

black women don't put white men on a pedestal.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #14)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 08:50 AM

16. Lol! They sure don't! Very good point.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 03:54 PM

11. Man, you are on a roll. I couldn't agree more.



And it isn’t just politics. We’re thought of as foolish, inconsequential, god-help-me “cute” and seldom given credit for the amazing abilities we have to give of ourselves in multiple arenas at once. To tout young blood over wise blood is absurd.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 04:15 PM

12. kick

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 02:54 AM

13. Yes, Absolutely!

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 03:21 AM

15. You nailed it again. n/t

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