Are Female Voters to Blame for the Failure of Female Candidates?

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During her remarks at this year's Newsweek/Daily Beast Women in the World Summit , former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reiterated one of her favorite maxims: "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." According to a new study, it looks like the ladies' room in hell will be quite crowded. Just in time for International Women's Day, which was March 8, London-based company Business Environment released a study of 1,000 women, and let's just say the results didn't exactly scream, "Girl power!" The study found that 25 percent of female managers expressed reluctance to hire a woman who has children or is of a child-bearing age, while 72 percent admitted to judging female coworkers for what they deemed inappropriate dress, compared with just 60 percent of men. The findings seem to confirm earlier data, including a 2010 study from the Workplace Bullying Institute, that found that when women are accused of workplace bullying, the targets are almost always other women, in numbers that outpace the number of men accused of bullying other men. So why should we care if a few women engage in a bit of Mean Girls behavior around the office water cooler? Because the long-term ramifications for all women are much greater than just a few hurt feelings. The bullying directed by some women in the workplace appears to rear its ugly head in the voting booth. Though women have comprised both the majority of the population ( 51 percent ) and the majority of the electorate ( 56 percent ) in recent years, women have struggled to translate these numbers into any representative majority in elected offices. According to the 2012 Project at Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics, the U.S. currently ranks 71st worldwide in terms of female elected officials -- just behind someplace called Turkmenistan. While there have been some high-profile successes here and there, Governors Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez being recent examples, last election cycle the number of female members of Congress dipped for the first time in more than three decades. This step backward in the House, combined with our country's inability to elect women -- of either party -- to the highest or even second-highest office in the land (something nations like Pakistan have done) begs the uncomfortable question: if women are the majority of American voters, then does the blame for the dearth of women leaders lie with women voters? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gov. Sarah Palin, and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann may have little in common, politically speaking, but one common bond they all share is running, and failing, at the highest level and on the biggest stage in politics -- and being a lightning rod for female voters while doing so. Though some female voters were their biggest supporters, many others were their toughest critics, with few occupying the middle ground. According to the Associated Press , these two extremes are not limited to these three women, who many consider polarizing: An AP analysis of data from the 2006 American National Election Study Pilot Test found that when it came to selecting a candidate for president, gender matters more for women than for men. But it's a two-way street; women are more likely to vote for a candidate because she is female, and also more likely to dismiss a candidate because of her gender, according to the analysis. While it would be easy to dismiss the opposition of these women among women as being partisan-based, it's not that simple. It was noted during the panel discussion on female leadership at the Women in the World Summit (a panel that featured Gloria Steinem and Jill Abramson of The New York Times , among others) that while Hillary Clinton enjoyed support from women over 50 during the 2008 election, she trailed behind two male opponents for the support of younger women (Barack Obama and John Edwards, respectively). Polls showed that Sarah Palin's favorability rates were always higher among men even before her personal baggage and struggle to answer questions about her reading habits came to light. At some rallies headlined by Palin during the height of the 2008 presidential campaign, the gender ratio in the crowd reportedly skewed 70-percent male to 30-percent female. "If you look at Sarah Palin, men supported Sarah Palin more than women did," said Anne Kornblut, who covered the 2008 election for The Washington Post . She added, "Women also look at women's appearances and judge them just the way men do, and sometimes more harshly... I think women are critics across the board in ways you may even consider sexist if you didn't know who was saying it." Tiffany Dufu, president of the White House Project, a nonprofit organization committed to increasing female leadership at the highest levels, including the White House, was more circumspect. "Yes, female voters are tougher on female candidates. Male voters are tougher on them, too. Any individual who does not fit the leadership status quo has to meet a higher bar." Congresswoman Jackie Speier recalls being surprised by the reaction of female voters to her candidacy for Congress: "When I first ran for Congress in 1979, I was 28 years old, and I kept hearing, 'I'm not going to vote for her just because she's a woman,' and it wasn't men saying it but women." Kornblut, who also authored the book Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win , adds, "Women look at women running for office and say, 'I couldn't do that. I'm a mom with two small kids, and I couldn't be governor. How could she do that?' Or they say, 'Why is she so ambitious? Why does she want to do that when she has a family at home?'" Rep. Speier echoes this sentiment: "For whatever reason, there's a competition that some women see when other women succeed. We've got to change that dynamic. Men see an opportunity of both rising. Women see a threat that somehow if one woman succeeds, another falls." So how do we begin changing that dynamic? "I think we change it in part with our young girls in soccer and baseball and playing a team sport, so they recognize the power of working together," Rep. Speier said. "When I was a youngster, that wasn't available, but it is for this generation. I'm hoping it will have an impact on how they view each other as they move forward." (Click here to see my interviews with Rep. Speier, Angelina Jolie, and other speakers at the Women in the World Summit.) In the new book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World , CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King weighed in on the competitiveness that so often seems to rear its head among professional women. "It saddens me when women think there's not enough to go around, because there's more than enough," she said. "It's a big old pie out there. I believe that when you're good at what you do, it only makes me better." If only more women agreed. Keli Goff is the author of The GQ Candidate and a contributing editor for , where this post originally appeared.

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Why Wasn’t Don Cornelius Ever on the Cover of “Ebony” or “Black Enterprise”?


DON CORNELIUS had many stories, and he liked to keep most of them to himself. But there was one that he recited many times, never concealing his pride in the retelling. It was 1972, and James Brown was making his first appearance on “Soul Train,” the television show Mr. Cornelius had created two years before. As Mr. Brown looked around at the ...

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Kony Victim Comes Out Against Kony 2012 Viral Video [Video]

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KultureKritic reported on criticism of the Kony 2012 video both here and here, but, at least up until now, the media hadn’t done much reporting on what Ugandans thought of the video. But on CNN yesterday, one of Kony’s victims came out against the Kony 2012 video. Evelyn Apoko was kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army when she was only 13, and was ...

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Time To Rush “Rush” Off The Air

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For years, Rush Limbaugh has virtually gotten away with making some of the most outrageous and insulting statements about everyone from Blacks and minorities to women.  But his now infamous comments regarding Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke hit a new low, even for Rush.  Attacking a  woman whose only crime was to testify, Rush proved that he has absolutely no respect for women and our voices in society.  And his non-apology “apology” satisfied no one, not even his own advertisers.  It’s seriously time for Rush to start rushing off of our airwaves everywhere. RELATED: Rush Limbaugh Has Lost 42 Sponsors Since “Prostitute” Incident Rush Limbaugh Defended Joseph Kony And Lord’s Resistance Army Since the Sandra Fluke scandal, several stations have already dropped “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” Over 40 advertisers have pulled their spots from the broadcast, and several members of Congress have spoken out against Rush and his deplorable remarks.  And on Wednesday night, Sen. Carl Levin, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he would like the Armed Services Network to also drop the show.  As a woman, and as a mother, I couldn’t agree with these leaders more.  It’s time for Rush to go. There’s no place in our discourse for someone who calls an innocent woman a “slut”, a “prostitute” or worse.  Freedom of speech doesn’t give people with a platform and bully pulpit to openly spew hatred.  In 2007, Don Imus thought he could make bigoted comments and get away with it, but he soon learned that racism would not be tolerated.  Similarly, Rush will wake up to the reality that sexism won’t be tolerated either. In November, voters will head to the polls and decide who will lead the country for the next four years.  A majority of these citizens — like the majority of our population itself —will be women.  And these women (myself included) will not forget the vicious attack against Sandra Fluke.  Nor will we forget the lack of leadership from Republican leaders in calling out Rush Limbaugh.  Women, and the men who love us (including our fathers and grandfathers), will not forget. Rush foolishly thinks he provides some sort of entertainment.  We are not amused, Rush, and neither are your advertisers.  During this Women’s History Month, how dare you insult us.  Someone please turn his mic off. SEE ALSO: Radio Stations  Pull Out Of Rush Limbaugh Show Rick Santorum Thinks NY Press Is Out To Get Him

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The Economist Charts How Long World Leaders Stay in Power, Check Out Africa

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The Economist details how long world leaders stay in power. From the article: Countries in the Middle East tend to hold on to their leaders longer than anywhere else (a little over eight years on average). Africa comes next at more than seven years. Latin America, cursed for decades by coups, has in a more democratic era maintained its tendency ...

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The Economic Impact of Birth Control

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by Yvette Carnell Much of the attention given to the asinine birth control debate has centered around Catholicism vs. Women’s Health, and when that’s not at the center of the firestorm, it’s the Republican fiction – pushed by Limbaugh – that somehow the taxpayer is footing the bill for the pill. The bigger issue though, the one largely absent from ...

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Help Meryl Streep (and Other Iron Ladies) Teach Rush Limbaugh a Lesson


By now the five remaining people on the planet who didn't know that Rush Limbaugh embodies the very worst in politics, pop culture and possibly all mammals ever, have joined the rest of us in this knowledge. But for those of you that have been under a rock in recent days, allow me to fill you in on this latest dispatch from Rush Limbaugh's race to the bottom. Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke , a woman he doesn't know, has never met and knows next to nothing about, a slut. I take that back. He knows something about her now, namely that she's smarter and more courageous than he is. Fluke provoked Limbaugh's ire when the Georgetown University law student dared to testify in support of contraception coverage before a Democratic hearing after previously being denied the right to testify in a male (and conservative) dominated congressional hearing on the matter. Fluke's testimony highlighting the fact that many women rely on contraception to address medical issues unrelated to preventing pregnancy, apparently struck Limbaugh as humorous. (Hey -- who doesn't find ovarian cysts hysterical?) He then continued to riff on Fluke, speculating on her sexual habits in a manner I will allow you to read about for yourself because just thinking about the comments and frankly, their source, gives me the creeps. On Saturday Limbaugh "sincerely apologized" to Fluke clearly seeing the error of his ways due to some serious self-reflection on his part. At least we're supposed to pretend it's due to his self-reflection, and not due to the fact that his advertisers are ditching him faster than he ditches wives. (At last count he's on number four and considering she's not much older than Ms. Fluke, part of me wonders if perhaps this was all some grotesque attempt at flirting on his part that simply went awry. After all, who wouldn't want to be the fifth Mrs. Limbaugh? Raise your hands high, ladies!) As un-amusing as this whole situation has been, I can't help being amused by the timing of it all. March happens to be Women's History Month. Talk about starting it off with a bang. While we all know that for at least the next month we can look forward to hearing occasional references to our country's greatest women sprinkled in speeches, news items and, of course, school reports, what you may not know is that despite years of trying we still don't have a national museum to honor the contributions of women. Before any eye rolling or shouts of "pay down the deficit!" begin, did I mention that the planned National Women's History Museum won't cost taxpayers a single dollar? It will, however, require congressional approval for the land on which it will eventually be constructed; approval that despite years of negotiations (and efforts of the saner members of Congress on both sides of the aisle) has remained elusive. If you need further proof of just how gridlocked and embarrassing Congress has become in recent years, consider this. We have a National Postal Museum, which was opened in the nineties, but recent efforts at making a National Women's History Museum a reality have repeatedly stalled. That means that the postal service, which may be the only body in America with a lower approval rating than Congress, was deemed worthy of its own museum honoring its contributions to this country, but after years of near-groveling women still haven't been deemed worthy of one. Did I already mention the part about how the museum won't cost taxpayers a dime? So what's the hold up? In a nutshell, for the museum to be constructed on land in close proximity to the National Mall, congressional approval is required. As National Spokesperson Meryl Streep (who could also be called the museum's most devoted evangelist) recently explained in an interview with the Los Angeles Times , "It's a political football... It's a thing that everybody in Congress agrees with but then they attach it to something that no one agrees with." To her point, on more than one occasion the necessary bill has made it out of the House only to miss garnering a vote in the Senate before the end of the legislative session. But in at least one instance it was intentionally stalled. The reason: political posturing over the politics of women's health. Sound familiar? In 2010, Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Demint, among the chamber's most conservative members, placed a "hold" on the bill. Initially the two senators expressed budgetary concerns. You know, despite the fact that the museum will not use taxpayer dollars. Perhaps someone pointed that out to them because they later argued the museum would unnecessarily duplicate others. But according to USA Today , the real reason allegedly behind their concern? An organization that opposes abortion wrote a letter to both men expressing concern that the museum would not sufficiently honor women who have opposed abortion rights. (Apparently every single political issue on the planet somehow comes back to we ladies and our reproductive organs.) For the record, the museum is a nonpartisan effort with supporters representing both major political parties. The National Women's History Museum Act of 2011 was introduced last fall where it was approved in the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee but months later we're still waiting. Waiting for our male-dominated Congress to get its act together enough to agree that honoring the contributions of women -- especially when it won't cost taxpayers a cent -- is one issue that should transcend partisanship. Meryl Streep, who recently clinched her third Academy Award for playing a history-making woman, Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, believes so strongly in the museum that she donated a million dollars to help make it become a reality. You may not have a million dollars to spare (few of us do) but you can help too. Here's how: 1) Write to your member of Congress and tell him or her that you support the National Women's History Museum, specifically you support the federal government approving the land necessary to make it become a reality. (Click here to see how to contact your elected officials and to see a sample letter.) 2) Support the National Women's History Museum online. The only way the museum can succeed without federal support is through private contributions. Click here for more details about how to get involved. In fact, why not make a donation in Rush Limbaugh's name? It seems only fitting that he help build the museum where thanks to him, Sandra Fluke's portrait is likely to hang someday. Keli Goff is the author of The GQ Candidate and a Contributing Editor of where this post originally appeared.

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Black Googler Network & @Google Present: Baratunde Thurston, “How to Be Black” [Video]


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Class Warfare in America: A State by State Guide to the War on Working People


The past year has brought an unprecedented series of attacks on public employee unions in state legislatures across the United States. The most dramatic such assault came in Wisconsin, where newly elected governor Scott Walker pushed through legislation that effectively eliminated the right to collective bargaining for his state’s 175,000 public employees.1 Yet while Wisconsin became the crucible through which much of ...

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Back to the Future: All Roads Lead to Selma, Alabama


Last night, we watched Willard Mitt Romney give another lackluster speech following his victory in Arizona and extremely slim win in Michigan. Once again devoid of passion, it was as if he was reading someone else's words without any clear vision of what his platform would be in office. At the same time, you had Rick 'I don't believe in higher education' Santorum give his own speech as if he didn't lose yesterday. And whether it was Romney or Santorum speaking, it's important to note that neither mentioned the other by name last night, indicating therefore that they're in it for the long haul. The truth is, it really doesn't matter who becomes the eventual GOP nominee because all of the contenders and the Republican Party as a whole have proved that they would indeed like to take the country back -- back to a time when systematic maneuvers suppressed the votes of people of color and the marginalized. While they try to regress us back, we must do something today for the sake of our collective future. From March 4-9th, my organization, National Action Network, will partner with congressional leaders, activists and everyday citizens as we once again make the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. We will begin at the Edmund Pettus Bridge this Sunday, march at least 10 miles per day, stay in tents along Route 80, convene rallies and teach-ins along the way, and finally gather in front of the Alabama State Capitol on Friday, March 9th. After the state of Alabama passed the most draconian anti-immigration legislation, and at least 31 states now have voter ID laws on the books, we must take immediate action if we hope to preserve any notion of progress. The Selma to Montgomery March consisted of three different marches in 1965 that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. Beaten with billy clubs and attacked with tear gas, it was the third march which lasted five days that made it to Montgomery after soldiers from the Army, members of the Alabama National Guard (under federal command), FBI agents and federal marshals eventually protected the demonstrators. It was because of these marches, and the national and international attention they garnered that Congress rushed to enact legislation that would protect voting for all Americans. It was called the Voting Rights Act, and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it into law later that year on August 6, 1965. It's amazing that almost 50 years after this historic legislation was enacted that we now find ourselves under attack yet again. After countless sacrifices -- including many people of all races that literally gave their lives for equality -- we are watching the very gains we achieved being slowly and covertly stripped away. It's important to remember that our Selma to Montgomery March next week isn't about the past, however -- it's about the future. Your future, my future, our children's future and the future of this very nation. Without any validation, individual states are passing these strict voter ID laws that are clearly designed to disenfranchise the poor, people of color, the elderly and young folks. Instead of allowing utility bills and other items that were used for years as appropriate forms of ID for voting, supporters of these new laws would like nothing more than to discourage people from participating. Rather than making the process easier and open to all, they are working diligently on finding new ways to suppress the vote. The state of Alabama is where the civil rights movement found its heart. Today, when voter ID laws have crept into dozens of states, and one of the toughest and most reprehensible anti-immigration bills passed in Alabama, we will gather once again in the deep South and march. Congressman John Lewis, who helped lead the march in '65 will join us, as will leaders from across the country. To learn how to participate in the Selma to Montgomery March, please visit . Whether you march along this historic route with us, or help organize buses, or participate in any fashion, make sure you do something. We have fought far too long and sacrificed far too much to allow anyone to repeal justice. Say no to voter suppression and anti-immigration laws. Let's remind the world once again what's at stake here. It's time to go back to the future: all roads lead to Selma on Sunday.

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