“How do women achieve true parity in political representation?” The question is simultaneously simple and impossibly complex, perhaps triply so, when you add progressive feminism to the mix.
What do we want from our politics? Given the relatively pathetic female percentages that Americans see among elected officials, from Congress to state legislatures, how can we insist not just on equal numbers, but also on representation that powers our overall goals as progressive thinkers? Such a demand may seem impossibly naïve after even the charismatic and brilliant politician elected president in 2008 was unable to change the toxic ways of Washington.
But that demand feels more essential than ever, given the determination of the evangelists and the hard right to drag the rest of the country back to medieval chastity belts, Victorian debtor’s jails and Cold War-era McCarthy-style accusations and inquisitions. We need seats at the table where policy is made. “If you’re going to change things,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told The New York Times in 2009, “you have to be with the people who hold the levers.” This from someone who has fought all her life for justice, and who, years before she was appointed to the bench, founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter and ran the ACLU Women’s Rights Law Project.