Thursday, January 31, 2008

My (not-so) new woman crush

The purpose of a woman's life is just the same as the purpose of man's life—that she may make the best possible contribution to the generation in which she is living. —Louise McKinney

I adore Anne McLellan. I think she's simply fabulous. This afternoon I had the opportunity to hear her speak at the Hotel MacDonald and I am simply in awe. She talked about women in politics and how we need more female leadership and so forth. She is such an engaging and passionate speaker. I could have listened to her all day.

It is true, we do need more women in politics. But it's a steep mountain to climb.

McLellan talked about how she's traveled across the country with the Liberals, talking to women, especially young women, trying to convince them to get into the political realm and it's just so hard. Politics is seen as such a sport/game/blood battle that it's not something a lot of people want to sign up for. Especially as a women, it's a constant fight. Look at Belinda Stronach, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Iris Evans, Rona Ambrose... I don't think any of us would really care to trade places and fight the fights that these women did/do on a daily basis. They tend to either be seen as manly/butch (Thatcher) or as a sex-object/ultra-feminine (Belinda/Rona). And they work so much harder to even be there in the first place. I was at an event with all of the cabinet ministers where they all outright acknowledged that Iris works harder than any of them -- at the legislature ridiculously early in the morning until ridiculously late. It's not a fun or easy job. Not than anyone claimed it ever was.

A buddy said to me after, that the thing with women getting into politics is that there really is no proof that they add the "female position" on issues in the end (she did her masters on this apparently). Because women have to act so much like men in order to be taken seriously, something gets lost between womanhood/motherhood/women's issues and the political sphere. Which is an interesting point. Also, it's freakin' hard to be a mother and be in politics. I can't imagine. Especially provincial/federal politics where you are away from home for long periods of time.

I've said time and time again how much I respect and admire my own mother for her political aspirations and the work that she's done in my community. I was blessed to have such a positive female influence in my life. She's brilliant, she's tough and she taught us to think for ourselves (even if she didn't agree with what we were saying necessarily). We had a lot of discussions about politics and religion and current issues/events.

I think that because of the sense of community you have when you are at the municipal level, it'd be a lot easier to be a woman/mother in politics in that sphere. As you get into the higher levels, you become distanced from that community. Especially if your home base isn't in the city where you spend much of your time.

The hard thing now is that people claim they want younger people in politics, or more women in politics... but it's hard to get people to take you seriously. Whether it's because you're a woman, or because you're young. There's a certain amount of credibility that you need to establish first. Where does one start?

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