Nothing is Going to Change Until We're in the Room
White guy, white guy, white guy, white guy, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, white guy, white guy, white guy who looks like he just ate a sour pickle.
That's my one line description of the health care summit the president called when pulling out all the stops to try, in the spirit of harmony and peace, to meet with Republicans to fix a very broken health care system. Or, should I say, it was a genius photo-op event to portray the President as the calm voice of reason while at the same time making the GOP sweat about how this was playing back at home with the constituents?
Aside from whether the summit was more serious policy discussion or brilliant political stagecraft, I have to put the obvious question out there -- where were the women? You know, the women who make the bulk of the health care decisions for their families? The ones who make sure all the insurance paperwork gets submitted? The ones who fight to find health coverage for their families when a few ear infections and a broken bone get a whole family labeled uninsurable because of "pre-existing conditions?"
Sure, there were some staffers in the background and an expert or two wearing skirts. But other than that -- not so many women lawmakers, at least compared to the sea of older white guys. Of course, when women only make up about 17 percent of Congress, it is sort of hard to have them represented at the table on anything -- there just aren't enough of us!
“If more women were in the room, might the debate have been different? If there were more women in Congress ... might our politics be less rancorous and might our elected officials get more accomplished? There’s a school of thought that is emerging that suggests the answer is yes.”
A school of thought? An emerging suggestion? The funny thing about that remark is this -- no one is screaming at Dan Rather for making such a wild, crazy suggestion that women might run things differently and get us different results! Yet, when Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter essentially suggested the same thing recently, she was criticized by the right for being a sexist!
Fortunately, one Congresswoman spoke up at the summit. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) reminded us that when women aren't included, how an entire issue is viewed becomes skewed. And she wasn't just talking about politics -- she was also referring to medical studies that are relied upon in treating women that don't include women in the studies!
Unless we're willing to do something about it, though, neither of these phenomenon -- lack of inclusion of women in medical studies and too few women in Congress -- will change. I know it's hard to step up to the plate on that one, but surely there are more women out there with the intestinal fortitude to go "woman a mano" with the guys.
Photo, Getty Images
Joanne Bamberger writes about the intersection of motherhood and politics at her place, PunditMom.