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Fwd: Review-a-Day: Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would Be President

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  • Greg Cannon
    ... https://www.powells.com/tnr/cgi-bin/wishlist?add=9780814758342
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2007
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      --- reviews@... wrote:

      > Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2007 23:00:08 -0700 (PDT)
      > To: gregcannon1@...
      > From: reviews@...
      > Subject: Review-a-Day: Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who
      > Would Be President
      >
      >
      > Today's Review From
      > The New Republic Online
      >
      > Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would Be President
      > by Jill Norgren
      >
      > <<>
      > Read today's review in HTML at:
      > http://www.powells.com/tnr/review/2007_04_05
      >
      > Voice your opinion by posting a comment on the
      > Powells.com blog:
      > http://www.powells.com/blog/?p=1970
      >
      > <>>
      >
      > Madame Candidate
      > A review by Christine Stansell
      >
      > I.
      >
      > Women's biographies are the pre-eminent form of
      > popular women's
      > history, and the only nonfiction books that female
      > readers will
      > dependably buy. In the past forty years, the genre
      > has flourished,
      > nourished by an unending curiosity about women's
      > lives that feminism
      > generates. Famous men's wives and sisters turn out
      > to have amazing
      > stories of their own (Vera Nabokov, Alice James,
      > Zelda Fitzgerald).
      > Sagas of sisters, spun from strands of rivalry and
      > adoration,
      > are mesmerizing (the Peabodys, the Mitfords).
      > Writers, their struggles
      > for art and life in equal measure inevitably
      > complicated by their
      > sex, are an endless store of plots (Virginia Woolf,
      > Margaret Fuller,
      > Colette). Family relations, marriage, motherhood,
      > isolation, sex,
      > social opprobrium, anger, friendship, and
      > creativity: all are
      > explored in the study of such women's lives.
      >
      > The same cannot be said about political power.
      > Biographies of
      > Jane Addams and Eleanor Roosevelt illuminate the
      > achievements
      > of women at the edges of formal politics. Of those
      > who wielded
      > institutional power, only Eleanor Rathbone, one of
      > Britain's first
      > female members of Parliament, has merited a
      > significant book.
      > True, there are any number of biographies of queens
      > and aristocrats
      > who practiced politics in oblique and unusual ways;
      > and true,
      > there are many studies of women in protest politics,
      > beginning
      > with the great feminists of the nineteenth century
      > (Mary Wollstonecraft,
      > Elizabeth Stanton, Angelina and Sarah Grimké) and
      > running through
      > the civil rights movement (Ella Baker, Fannie Lou
      > Hamer). But
      > it is undeniable that most biographies of women
      > concern love,
      > creativity, and the search for self, rather than
      > ambition and
      > the scramble for the nomination.
      >
      > The obvious reason is that women have been barred
      > from politics
      > for so long that there are few figures of importance
      > to observe
      > and to study. Yet the absence of biography redoubles
      > the difficulties
      > in understanding the lives of those women who have
      > gone into politics.
      > From a distance, they seem a little dull. It is
      > easier to haul
      > them back into the familiar plots of modern
      > womanhood -- thwarted
      > ambition, struggle for self-esteem -- than to
      > imagine what they
      > mostly do and mostly care about: winning elections,
      > lining up
      > votes, passing bills, making policy. For these
      > reasons, Jill Norgren's
      > study of Belva Lockwood (which comes with a graceful
      > preface by
      > Ruth Bader Ginsburg) is a very unusual book.
      >
      > Belva Green McNall Lockwood was born in 1830, too
      > late for the
      > great struggles of abolition and too early for the
      > practical politics
      > of the Progressive era. A child of a poor farming
      > family, she
      > grew up in western New York, known as the
      > "burned-over district"
      > for its spiritual fervor; religion mixed with social
      > reform in
      > evangelical revivals, abolition, and temperance. She
      > wanted to
      > finish school, but her father believed there was no
      > point in spending
      > money to educate a girl. So in 1848, at the age of
      > eighteen, she
      > married one Uriah McNall. "The daughter of a poor
      > farmer, I followed
      > the well-trodden road, and was united in marriage to
      > a promising
      > young farmer of my neighborhood," she said of her
      > choice many
      > years later, unsentimentally and with a touch of
      > sociological
      > asperity.
      >
      > Also in 1848, reform-minded women several counties
      > away to the
      > east, in Seneca Falls, held a meeting dedicated
      > solely to the
      > subject of the rights of woman. Lockwood must have
      > caught something
      > of that spirit, for when her husband died five years
      > later, leaving
      > her with a small daughter to support, she insisted
      > on returning
      > to school, this time to a nearby seminary (the
      > closest there was
      > to college education for girls) in order to train as
      > a teacher.
      > She graduated and made a go of it, supporting
      > herself and her
      > daughter and, during the Civil War, running her own
      > school. But
      > by the end of the war her ambitions had broadened.
      > She sold the
      > school building for a tidy profit, and in 1866, with
      > her teenage
      > daughter, set out boldly for Washington, D.C. Her
      > only motive
      > seems to have been a fascination with national
      > politics, a desire
      > to be what we would call "inside the Beltway."
      >
      > The town was still a muddy, shambling place, all the
      > more so because
      > the aftermath of the war had flooded it with
      > demobilized soldiers,
      > freedpeople, transients, and refugees. Politics were
      > at a fever
      > pitch, with Congress repudiating Andrew Johnson's
      > policies of
      > appeasement to the South and embarking on its own
      > plan for Reconstruction.
      > Belva McNall watched the debates from the "Ladies
      > Gallery" in
      > the new Senate chamber. A respectable,
      > self-supporting widow,
      > she joined a hustling middle class taking shape in
      > Washington,
      > émigrés from small towns and the countryside who
      > found a foothold
      > in a government bureaucracy that had vastly expanded
      > during the
      > war. "Such people resided in boarding houses, toiled
      > as clerks
      > and teachers, and experimented with small
      > enterprise," writes
      > Norgren, who conveys an interesting sense of the
      > social history
      > of the city.
      >
      > Belva McNall was one of the strivers, and she soon
      > married another,
      > the much-older Ezekiel Lockwood, an entrepreneurial
      > amalgam of
      > dentist, real estate agent, and pension-claims
      > agent. It was not
      > a love match, but a practical partnership of two
      > people who were
      > fond of each other. Ezekiel would not share all of
      > Belva's "ultraist"
      > views about women, but he respected her and
      > supported her through
      > thin patches, and he benefited from her practical
      > bent for moneymaking
      > and capacity for taking risks that paid off.
      >
      > Belva Lockwood found a way into national politics
      > through women's
      > rights circles. The prewar movement, comprising men
      > and women
      > whose feminism was born of deep anti-slavery
      > commitments, had
      > gone into abeyance during the Civil War. It revived
      > in the mid-1860s,
      > only to split bitterly over the Fourteenth and
      > Fifteenth Amendments,
      > which guaranteed full citizenship and voting rights
      > to the freedmen
      > but not to the freedwomen, or to any other women.
      > One group of
      > suffragists endorsed the Republican Party's judgment
      > that the
      > freedmen's situation was so dire that it required
      > immediate action,
      > and that an attempt to institute universal suffrage
      > would doom
      > the entire enterprise. The other group, led by Susan
      > B. Anthony
      > and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, saw universal manhood
      > suffrage as
      > the Republicans' capitulation to exigency and a
      > betrayal of democratic
      > principle. They denounced their old Republican
      > allies and demanded
      > a Sixteenth Amendment to enfranchise women.
      >
      > Stanton and Anthony started their own organization,
      > reaching out
      > to recruits just like Lockwood -- younger, mostly
      > free of other
      > political loyalties, and eager for feminist politics
      > that were
      > straightforward, bold, and uncomplicated. Lockwood
      > was taken with
      > the intellectual excitement and vigor of the
      > suffrage milieu,
      > as well as with the opportunity to take on political
      > heft. She
      > moved up in the ranks quickly, and by 1871 she was
      > president of
      > the suffrage group in the capital.
      >
      > It was a moment when suffragists in the
      > Stanton-Anthony wing of
      > the movement were interested in the problems of
      > working women.
      > One way to focus that interest was to protest the
      > disparity in
      > wages between male clerical workers in the federal
      > government
      > and the thousands of women who flooded those jobs
      > during the war
      > and remained in place thereafter. Lockwood took it
      > upon herself
      > to pursue the issue and launched her first
      > congressional campaign,
      > a one-woman lobbying effort to secure a bill
      > outlawing pay discrimination
      > on the basis of sex in federal jobs.
      >
      > Opponents succeeded in watering down the bill to a
      > mild affirmation
      > of equal opportunity, but Lockwood nonetheless found
      > important
      > male allies in both houses who could grasp the
      > demeaning, anti-egalitarian
      > meanings of wage discrimination. Norgren judges that
      > despite the
      > defeat, the experience was valuable for Lockwood and
      > efficacious
      > for working women. The percentage of women clerks
      > paid at the
      > top grade quadrupled in the next decade. It
      > certainly taught Lockwood
      > a lot about Congress: "Broad principle was
      > sacrificed in the name
      > of a modest but nonetheless affirmative statement by
      > Congress
      > in the matter of equal employment rights."
      >
      > Most women's rights reformers were married women
      > supported by
      > their husbands. Lockwood's sustained attention to
      > the problems
      > of working women was unusual. But at the edges of
      > the suffrage
      > movement was a tiny group who, taking to heart the
      > feminist call
      > for women to utilize their full capacities,
      > determined to acquire
      > sufficient training and credentials to enter the
      > heavily defended
      > male bastions of the professions. By the 1870s,
      > token women had
      > squeezed into law, the ministry, and medicine. Maria
      > Mitchell
      > was even named professor of astronomy at the newly
      > opened Vassar
      > College in 1865. There were several hundred women
      > physicians,
      > a handful of female ministers, and a half-dozen
      > attorneys around
      > the country. In 1872, Charlotte Ray, daughter of a
      > prominent African
      > American family in Washington, was the first woman
      > admitted to
      > the D.C. bar.
      >
      > In 1870, shortly after she gave birth to a second
      > child, Lockwood
      > began attending classes at a local law college,
      > setting off a
      > flurry of condescending notice in the newspapers.
      > Characteristically
      > indifferent to notoriety, she completed the course
      > of study with
      > the intent of joining the ranks of practicing
      > attorneys. Although
      > the college refused to grant her a degree because
      > she was a woman,
      > she went ahead and applied for admission to the D.C.
      > bar, which
      > denied her petition because she lacked the requisite
      > degree.
      >
      > It was a tough time to embark on a legal career. In
      > 1873, the
      > Supreme Court dealt a stunning blow to women lawyers
      > in Bradwell
      > v. Illinois, which upheld a lower court's ruling
      > that the Illinois
      > bar could refuse to admit Myra Bradwell, a Chicago
      > attorney who
      > practiced law with her husband (both were active
      > campaigners for
      > women's suffrage), on the grounds of the timidity
      > and the domestic
      > nature of the sex. The situation was uneven and
      > complex: a few
      > state bars had admitted women, and by the time Myra
      > Bradwell's
      > case reached the Court, the state of Illinois had
      > passed a law
      > granting all persons, regardless of sex, the freedom
      > to choose
      > a profession. But Bradwell had a strong negative
      > effect in confirming
      > powerful prejudices against women's ability to
      > engage in legal
      > reasoning and endure the nasty business of
      > litigation.
      >
      > Here Lockwood's story departs from the standard plot
      > lines of
      > the plucky nineteenth-century feminist's story.
      > Blocked at two
      > levels -- by the highest court in the country and by
      > a plain little
      > law college -- she did not write a stirring tract on
      > injustice
      > toward women, or dash off furious letters of protest
      > to the newspapers,
      > or deliver moving speeches to fellow suffragists on
      > the tyranny
      > of the law. She did not tactically retreat, as did
      > Myra Bradwell,
      > who pursued a successful law career in partnership
      > with her husband
      > but did not re-apply to the Illinois bar until 1890.
      > Such were
      > the eminently reasonable and intellectually
      > satisfying responses
      > of many brilliant nineteenth-century women when
      > their ambitions
      > came up against the inevitable dead end.
      >
      > Lockwood did something else. She pulled strings. She
      > got Ulysses
      > S. Grant to sign a letter to the law college -- he
      > was the institution's
      > president ex officio -- requesting that Mrs.
      > Lockwood's diploma
      > be issued. And she formulated her second piece of
      > legislation
      > and maneuvered it into congressional committee, an
      > act that ensured
      > that no qualified woman would be barred from federal
      > court because
      > of her sex or marital status. In essence, she tried
      > to do an end
      > run around Bradwell. When the bill lost in the
      > Senate in 1875,
      > she petitioned to be admitted to the bar of the
      > Supreme Court,
      > betting on a technical loophole. When she lost in
      > the Supreme
      > Court, she went back to Congress. She lobbied
      > doggedly for years,
      > virtually alone, until in 1879 the bill passed. Upon
      > gaining the
      > ability to practice freely in any court, she
      > promptly re-applied
      > to be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court. This
      > time she
      > succeeded, and a few weeks later became the first
      > woman admitted
      > to practice before the Court, sworn in before almost
      > the same
      > lineup of judges who had ruled in Bradwell that
      > women were unsuitable
      > to practice law.
      >
      > "Her genius...lay in accepting misfortune and moving
      > ahead with
      > new plans," Norgren observes. The long trudge, the
      > patience with
      > disappointment and politicians' prevarications, a
      > sure grasp of
      > opportunity, and a habit of calculation are all the
      > stuff of many
      > a significant Washington career, but because
      > Lockwood was an unenfranchised
      > woman, they never took her too far. Still, she made
      > herself a
      > life she could never have envisioned back in western
      > New York.
      > The woman excelled at political truck and barter. It
      > was not the
      > inner life that engaged her, or the grand drama of
      > Woman in the
      > Nineteenth Century (Margaret Fuller's phrase).
      > Lockwood was feminist
      > and egalitarian by temperament and belief, but her
      > understanding
      > of women's need for power made her more interested
      > in practical
      > results than in burnishing principles. The operative
      > word here
      > is "undeterred."
      >
      > In 1884, Belva Lockwood ran for president. It was a
      > time of mounting
      > dissatisfaction with the two major parties, which
      > would crest
      > in the 1890s with the Populists. Greenbackers and
      > Prohibitionists
      > were already organized as separate parties. But
      > Stanton and Anthony
      > were moving against the current, reversing course
      > and cozying
      > up to the Republicans, hoping to help elect men
      > amenable to granting
      > women the vote. Lockwood was fed up with the
      > Republicans and exasperated
      > with Stanton and Anthony, whose views she had
      > crossed in an earlier
      > fray over women's suffrage in Utah. Marietta Stow, a
      > suffragist
      > newspaper editor in California who had flirted with
      > the Greenbackers,
      > suggested in print that it might be time for a woman
      > to run for
      > the highest office in the land. Lockwood wrote to
      > volunteer: "It
      > is quite time that we had our own party, our own
      > platform; and
      > our own nominees. We shall never have equal rights
      > until we take
      > them, nor respect until we command it." Grit and
      > chutzpah won
      > her the nomination of the Equal Rights Party,
      > organized primarily
      > by Stow. Lockwood turned the metaphor into something
      > literal.
      >
      > The charismatic, scandalous Victoria Woodhull, the
      > bad girl of
      > women's suffrage, had entered the presidential race
      > in 1872, running
      > on the imaginary ticket of the People's Party
      > (sprung unbidden
      > from the mind of Woodhull). But she staged her bid
      > as an outré
      > performance piece, a one-woman show. Lockwood was
      > more conventional
      > and more serious, a seasoned politico who conducted
      > herself with
      > the savvy and the skill of a professional, and who
      > believed she
      > had a chance to win a significant protest vote. She
      > established
      > campaign headquarters in her home, staffed by her
      > daughter; printed
      > up publicity materials; and stumped the East Coast
      > cities and
      > California.
      >
      > Newspapers treated the campaign as a comic novelty;
      > but, according
      > to Norgren, they actually gave Lockwood as much
      > respect as they
      > did James Blaine and Grover Cleveland, the
      > Republican and Democratic
      > candidates, respectively. She campaigned on the
      > standard third-party
      > platform of the era: high tariffs on foreign
      > manufactures, currency
      > reform, temperance, and a foreign policy geared to
      > international
      > arbitration -- the latter a position that grew out
      > of her developing
      > pacifism. Cleveland took the presidency in a close
      > election, but
      > Lockwood won some four thousand popular votes, and
      > claimed to
      > have won more, had it not been for Democratic Party
      > fraud.
      >
      > The suffrage leadership was lukewarm and sniffy.
      > Lockwood was
      > an asset when she operated within the association,
      > but she had
      > turned into an upstart. She did not consult any of
      > the reigning
      > women when she accepted Stow's invitation. In her
      > campaign, Lockwood
      > took up mainstream issues that were way off-message
      > for the suffragists.
      > Anthony, on hearing her speak in New York,
      > complained to Stanton
      > that she "kept too little on her own specific ground
      > -- of woman
      > & her disenfranchised -- her speech was too much
      > like a re-hash
      > of the men's speeches!!" She had ventured off
      > feminist turf. Anthony
      > criticized Lockwood for dyeing her hair, the first
      > time (but not
      > the last!) that this issue was raised about a woman
      > candidate.
      >
      > Lockwood was unflustered. Neither her defeat nor the
      > weakening
      > of her bonds to the women's movement bothered her.
      > She always
      > remained proud of her campaign; and she ran again in
      > 1888. Both
      > wings of the suffrage movement openly repudiated
      > her. By this
      > time, however, she had honed her thoughts about the
      > meaning of
      > her campaigns: she saw them as a kind of civil
      > disobedience on
      > the one hand, and a template for continuing action
      > on the other.
      > There was no getting political power unless women
      > tried to grab
      > it, she argued, and the time was ripe: "The country
      > is prepared
      > to-day for a boldly aggressive movement on the part
      > of the women
      > of the country."
      >
      > Lockwood was fifty-eight when the 1888 campaign was
      > over, and
      > she faced the midlife question of what to do next.
      > Her law practice,
      > always struggling, occupied her time and
      > intelligence, but it
      > was never quite enough. She wanted to be a part of
      > bigger things.
      > The peace movement, strengthening in Europe in the
      > 1880s, was
      > her next cause. For many American women who were
      > blocked politically
      > at home (and, in Lockwood's case, bored by and at
      > odds with the
      > women's movement), the international circuit of
      > voluntary associations
      > provided travel, stature, big ideas, and hope for
      > influencing
      > governments. Lockwood's longstanding interest in
      > pacifism took
      > her into the work of the Universal Peace Union
      > thriving on the
      > Continent. She joined the American arm and worked to
      > translate
      > new ideas about international arbitration into
      > policies for the
      > United States.
      >
      > Fame and eminence always eluded her: despite her
      > standing, President
      > McKinley did not appoint her to the American
      > delegation to the
      > first Hague treaty convention in 1899. Still, when
      > others did
      > not make room for her, she insisted on making room
      > for herself.
      > In 1906, now seventy-six and pleased with herself
      > for arguing
      > and winning before the Supreme Court a long,
      > drawn-out multimillion
      > dollar lawsuit of the Eastern Cherokees against the
      > federal government,
      > Lockwood proposed herself for an honorary law degree
      > at her old
      > college, now a branch of Syracuse University. She
      > picked up her
      > degree in 1909 and next set to work trying to wangle
      > the newly
      > established Nobel Peace Prize. She did not succeed,
      > but not for
      > want of trying.
      >
      > A story of Lockwood's disappointments and sorrows
      > winds through
      > the book, but Norgren gives it short shrift. It
      > wasn't the woman's
      > nature to dwell on sadness. She struggled for money
      > most of her
      > life, saw the small fortune in fees she won in the
      > Cherokee case
      > dissolve in legal action with the clients, and lost
      > both her children.
      > At eighty-four, she also lost her home -- then, as
      > now, a premier
      > measure of dignity for an aging woman. Yet she
      > remained nonplussed:
      > involved in world affairs, interested in younger
      > friends, indifferent
      > to the handicap of old age, and very proud of
      > herself. At eighty-six
      > she regaled reporters with the story of her feats.
      > She died shortly
      > after, in 1916.
      >
      > Norgren has the great discernment to see Lockwood's
      > life as large
      > and anticipatory rather than eccentric and
      > half-realized. A legal
      > historian of considerable skill, she ploughed
      > through reams of
      > records to construct an account of Lockwood's legal
      > career --
      > which often spilled over into her Washington
      > affairs. Readers
      > may not be quite as indefatigable as either Lockwood
      > or her biographer,
      > and sometimes the details can be dry. The inveterate
      > reader of
      > women's biographies may weary of Congress and the
      > courtroom, and
      > long to settle down into a story about romance and
      > longing and
      > ambition and disappointment and anger. And all these
      > elements
      > (except for romance) are probably here -- but the
      > fact is that
      > Lockwood, a political creature, worked them into the
      > tissue of
      > political ideas and plans that was her life's
      > substance. Which
      > brings us to another woman who would be president.
      >
      > II.
      >
      > The century between Belva Lockwood's run for the
      > presidency and
      > Hillary Clinton's speaks to the contradictory nature
      > of women's
      > integration into the American political system. By
      > the turn of
      > the century, women's work in voluntary associations
      > had given
      > them access to considerable influence in
      > Progressive-era reform
      > politics. One historian has argued that women had
      > more power in
      > the 1890s than they did in the 1980s. The huge
      > movement that won
      > women suffrage in 1919 was the largest popular
      > mobilization for
      > enfranchisement in history. Yet many factors
      > conspired to keep
      > women out of political office once they had the
      > vote, including
      > the tight hierarchical structures of the two
      > parties.
      >
      > For this reason, since the Nineteenth Amendment, the
      > movement
      > of women into political office has been extremely
      > slow -- so slow
      > that the statistic bruited about in the 1990s was
      > that at the
      > rate things were going, it would take five hundred
      > years before
      > gender parity came to Congress. The handful of women
      > who did serve
      > usually came via the "coffin route," to replace a
      > legislator who
      > died, typically a husband. Before 1978, when Nancy
      > Kassebaum won
      > her seat, exactly one woman had been duly elected to
      > the Senate,
      > Margaret Chase Smith, who entered thirty years
      > earlier. In 1969,
      > Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to be
      > elected to
      > Congress, and there has still only been one African
      > American woman
      > in the Senate, Carol Moseley Braun.
      >
      > The situation really began to change in the 1970s.
      > In 1973, there
      > were fifteen women in Congress -- about the same as
      > in 1953. In
      > 1971, the liberal wing of the feminist movement
      > organized the
      > nonpartisan National Women's Political Caucus
      > (NWPC), on the premise
      > that the masculine monopoly of government was in
      > itself a huge
      > problem for women, whatever the party alignments.
      > The NWPC's impact
      > was immediate and dramatic in the presidential
      > nominating conventions
      > of 1972. Disarray among Democrats over Vietnam and
      > civil rights
      > and mounting tensions between moderate and
      > conservative Republicans
      > created space for women to move in. The numbers of
      > female delegates
      > soared, almost doubling among Republicans to 30
      > percent, and more
      > than doubling among Democrats to 40 percent. NWPC
      > women engineered
      > planks on women in both party platforms, calling for
      > federal child
      > care funding, passage of the Equal Rights Amendment
      > (ERA), strong
      > measures to end job inequities, and the appointment
      > of more women
      > to top positions in government.
      >
      > It was transformative, although not in the way the
      > NWPC expected.
      > The conventions of 1972 mainly emboldened women
      > afterward to run
      > for local and state offices; and over the decades,
      > their numbers
      > at those levels would improve slowly but steadily.
      > But in Congress
      > change was very slow, almost glacial. Among
      > Democrats, the NWPC
      > quickly assumed a place as an interest group of
      > consequence and
      > feminists flexed their muscle in the party. Yet
      > between Watergate
      > and the election of Ronald Reagan, the NWPC clique
      > engaged in
      > a series of self-destructive smackdowns, first
      > embroiling themselves
      > in squabbles in the campaign over Shirley Chisholm's
      > failed bid
      > for the nomination and George McGovern's candidacy,
      > and later
      > in the decade spurning Jimmy Carter for his
      > equivocation on women's
      > rights issues.
      >
      > The NWPC powerbroker Bella Abzug worked herself into
      > the role
      > of wisecracking tough-girl guru for the feminist
      > faithful. She
      > favored a theatrical politics of brashness, which
      > yielded little.
      > At the zenith of her career, she extricated from
      > Carter a position
      > as head of the huge government-funded International
      > Women's Year
      > (IWY) conference in Houston in 1977 and managed to
      > squander a
      > huge opportunity by turning it into an extravaganza
      > of Woman Power
      > and feel-good politics. The IWY handed Phyllis
      > Schlafly, the diva
      > of a counter-demonstration of fifteen thousand women
      > across town,
      > a sustained moment in the national spotlight.
      >
      > The change in the Republican Party was even more
      > constrained.
      > The rise of the far right made it much more
      > difficult for Republican
      > feminists -- the constituency that was pushing for
      > more female
      > representation -- to move up in the party. Through
      > the 1970s,
      > Republicans backpedaled on the feminist reforms in
      > the 1972 platform.
      > In 1980, the Convention dropped the ERA from their
      > platform --
      > the amendment that they had added in 1940.
      > Republicans were hemmed
      > in and outmaneuvered.
      >
      > You would think that Schlafly, who was very much a
      > creature of
      > the gender shift in the 1970s, would have opened up
      > access as
      > she whipped up jihad against the Great Satan,
      > feminism: women,
      > after all, were her shock troops in the
      > anti-abortion, anti-ERA
      > battles. But protest politics did not produce
      > plausible candidates.
      > The Republican women who did stay and run for office
      > tended to
      > be moderates to whom the young turks of the far
      > right were indifferent.
      > They often ran in swing districts where they were
      > vulnerable (Nancy
      > Johnson in Connecticut, for example).
      >
      > So despite the influx of women into the conventions,
      > the numbers
      > of women in Congress did not budge. Still, there
      > were sources
      > of undetected change -- primarily among Democrats --
      > in the late
      > 1970s and 1980s. A new kind of political operator
      > appeared, who
      > had been working since 1972 in state Democratic
      > organizations
      > and campaigns before she ran for office. Ann
      > Richards worked in
      > Texas state campaigns for years, won her first
      > election as county
      > commissioner in 1976, and state office six years
      > later. Nancy
      > Pelosi, the daughter of a wealthy and influential
      > Democratic father
      > in Baltimore, became chair of her Northern
      > California branch in
      > 1977 and California state chair in 1981, winning her
      > congressional
      > seat in 1987. And those Republican women who managed
      > to hang on
      > had similarly long apprenticeships. Kay Bailey
      > Hutchison came
      > up through Texas politics, first elected to the
      > state legislature
      > in 1972, and won her Senate seat twenty years later.
      >
      >
      > The percentages of women in state and local offices
      > steadily rose:
      > 7 percent of state officeholders in 1971, 18 percent
      > in 1990,
      > 29 percent in 2000. There were so many of these
      > positions that
      > incremental gains turned them into incubators for
      > hundreds of
      > fledgling pols. The NWPC dissolved and feminists
      > despaired of
      > Congress, but the party machinery ground on. Thus
      > two decades
      > of change at the lower levels went into the big
      > change at the
      > top in the election of 1992, which put Clinton in
      > the presidency,
      > when the number of women in Congress jumped from
      > thirty-two to
      > fifty-four. Since then, women have gained seats in
      > every election.
      > Every four years the numbers increase by about
      > one-third, around
      > ten more women in Congress. There are eighty-seven
      > women in the
      > 110th Congress, up from sixty-five in 1999 and
      > seventy-four in
      > 2005. If this rate continued, we would have gender
      > parity in several
      > decades. It won't continue, of course -- seats don't
      > turn over
      > that fast; but the trend shows the glass filling,
      > not emptying.
      >
      > The present Congress is 16 percent female. The
      > statistic is pathetic,
      > but also significant. It has inched past the 15
      > percent mark that
      > social psychology identifies as the tipping point
      > where a minority
      > changes from a token symbol of diversity, there on
      > sufferance,
      > to a presence accepted as legitimate and permanent.
      > And it is
      > 32 percent of the way to the 267 female legislators
      > who would
      > create strict equality.
      >
      > Women politicians are too numerous, and a few are
      > too powerful,
      > to be invisible or dispensable. They are no longer
      > weird and exotic.
      > Their sheer variety -- the spectrum of
      > personalities, ages, ethnicities,
      > races, ages, political views, family backgrounds,
      > political views
      > -- refutes the old stereotypes. It is no longer
      > possible to stuff
      > everyone into the primal images and thereby deny
      > them. True, there
      > is no end of references to Lady Macbeth in the
      > critical discussion
      > of Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. But when Pelosi
      > and Clinton
      > -- and, it turns out, Condoleezza Rice and Dianne
      > Feinstein --
      > are all Lady Macbeth, the image loses some of its
      > sting.
      >
      > The normalizing tendency will not squelch ridicule,
      > contempt,
      > and condescension; the misogynist playbook is
      > ancient and cunning.
      > Nor will it stop critics from turning traits that
      > are unremarkable
      > in male politicians into indictable offenses in
      > women. "Opportunism"
      > is the crime of Hillary Clinton, as if opportunity
      > were not the
      > politician's bread and butter. Pelosi is a
      > "self-promoter," which
      > is really saying no more than that she lives and
      > works in Washington,
      > D.C. And so the comparison with Belva Lockwood is
      > illuminating,
      > because it was Lockwood's instinct for opportunity
      > that took her
      > out of women's politics, with their intact
      > principles, into the
      > thick of things.
      >
      > "She was certainly as much of an opportunist as any
      > male politician,"
      > Norgren reflects. She was unabashedly
      > self-promoting. "But she
      > was deeply interested in politics...and knew that
      > public office
      > would never come to women without a fight." As
      > Lockwood embroiled
      > herself in the grimy business of Washington, she
      > lost the cultural
      > protections that the suffrage movement afforded
      > their own: the
      > image of the idealistic defender of Woman, above
      > partisanship.
      > But she was willing to surrender the myth so as to
      > move about
      > the political world, unimpeded, and take up big
      > issues just like
      > men did.
      >
      > In 1914, when Lockwood was eighty-four years old and
      > still lacked
      > the right to vote, she spoke to reporters about
      > American women's
      > political prospects. She was typically optimistic
      > and even-handed.
      > Women would be elected to the Senate and the House,
      > she predicted
      > with confidence. (In fact, Jeannette Rankin's
      > election to the
      > House from Wyoming was only three years away.) As
      > for president,
      > that, too, was within reach. "If [a woman]
      > demonstrates that she
      > is fitted to be president she will some day occupy
      > the White House.
      > It will be entirely on her own merits, however. No
      > movement can
      > place her there simply because she is a woman." Is
      > Hillary Clinton
      > "fitted to be president"? The question will be
      > answered over the
      > next year, as she will be scrutinized for "her own
      > merits." But
      > whatever voters decide, we owe her, and Nancy
      > Pelosi, and the
      > other female pols across the spectrum gratitude for
      > devising a
      > new plot. The biographies of these women will be
      > composed of the
      > workaday, disenchanted materials of political lives
      > -- perseverance,
      > competence, canniness, and, yes, a facility for the
      > quick grab
      > -- that Belva Lockwood cultivated and prized.
      >
      > Read the review online at:
      > http://www.powells.com/tnr/review/2007_04_05
      >
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