The Year of the Woman, Round TwoOctober 22, 2010
By now you’ve probably heard about Ginni Thomas’ early morning phone call to Anita Hill, asking her to apologize for what Hill did “with” Ginni Thomas’ husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. This phone call has set off quite a firestorm, reigniting the memories and vitriol associated with Hill’s sexual harassment testimony during then-nominee Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings, which he described as a “high-tech lynching.” The interest people are showing in this new development demonstrates how much this incident is still with us as a nation — those hearings 19 years ago still have an emotional and political charge.
Hill’s treatment at the hands of a Senate panel perceived as condescending is widely credited with ushering in the “Year of the Woman” in the 1992 election. Three female senators were elected, bringing the total to seven women senators, which was the most there had ever been. Currently, we have an all-time high of 17 women senators. Ironically, this election could be the year the gains of 1992 are reversed, as many female representatives and senators are locked in tight races such as those in Illinois, Arkansas, Alaska, Washington, and other states. This election could be first time since the late 1970s that the number of women in Congress actually declines. In other words, we could backslide in our progress. (Check out the Fall AAUW Outlook magazine in a few weeks for a story about this potential regression.)
We can’t let this happen. Our country is best represented when its elected officials actually look like its citizens, which means that women and people with diverse backgrounds and experience must be included. AAUW works to encourage women to run for office through our Elect Her initiative and voter education programs, so get involved today to foster women candidates and encourage voters to turn out on November 2.
Let’s make 2010 the “Year of the Woman, Round Two.”