When Sarah Palin was introduced to the American people as the running mate of John McCain I had several friends say, “Wow! You must be thrilled!” As a scholar, of course. More women, more writing about women. What surprised me is that some people thought that I would vote for any woman. Just because she is a well, a woman. This most recent primary was very positive for women politicians in general and Republican women specifically. But again, surprisingly, some women spoke out about how these particular pro-choice women are not helping to showcase women or feminism as it should be. This article in the New York Times points to some of those tensions.
As someone who has been studying Republican and Democratic women politicians for over a decade, I can say that this recent wave of women winning primaries is very good for reaching the critical mass of women politicians that Witt, Paget and Matthews wrote about in 1995 in their important book Running as a Woman: Gender and Power in American Politics.
Today 17% of women are senators. I’m not so caught up in what women are winning. I’m caught up in that they won.