Friday, November 23, 2012, 16:39 by Tanja Cilia
Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo is an Iraq War veteran, and, incidentally, America’s first Hindu Congresswoman on the Democratic ticket. Her Oath of Office, come January 3, will be the first ever to be administered over the Bhagavad Gita. Her father is Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard. Aged 23, she was the state’s first elected official who resigned voluntarily to go to war.
Tammy Baldwin is Wisconsin first openly lesbian Senator, which is ironic, considering that the state gave a 59 per cent yes vote to a 2006 homosexual marriage ban. She is one of four openly homosexual House members of the 112 U.S. Congress, the other three being fellow Democrats Jared Polis of Colorado, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.
Ladda Tammy Duckworth lost both legs and severely damaged her right arm when serving in the U.S. Army as the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the Iraq War, when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the cockpit of her helicopter and exploded. She is the first Thai-American elected to Congress in Illinois’ 8th congressional district, defeating incumbent Joe Walsh.
Mazie Hirono, who has represented Hawaii’s 2nd district in Congress since 2007, was elected to represent Hawaii in the U.S. Senate. She was born in Japan, immigrating to Hawaii with her family as a child. Hirono defeated Republican Linda Lingle 62 per cent to 37 per cent. She was raised in the Jodo Shinshu tradition, and is one of the two Buddhists to be elected to the House of Representatives; Hank Johnson of Georgia is the other one.
These four women ran the race to be the change as well as to make it, and not just because there were not a part of the “angry white male machine.”
I am assuming they did not fill in application forms that said, in part, Positive Discrimination! Female Minority Candidates Wanted: Non-Caucasian, LGBT, Congenital or Acquired Disabilities…
And yet, Duckworth, who would have qualified for the above on two counts, was disparaged by her opponent, Rep. Joe Walsh, as a “…female, wounded veteran…ehhhh. She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat…” Duckworth herself has said of the incident, “I hope this is the worst thing that happens to anyone in the 106th during this deployment. This is not so bad. There is always somebody worse off than you are. I’m just glad it was me and not one of my guys out there.”
I suppose Walsh found other words with which to denigrate those women of the 19 per cent in Congress who do not happen to share his political views; unless he regretted venting his spleen, if only for the way his malevolence backfired. In all, 20 women have seats in the American Senate. But of course, for many, it is nowhere near enough.
In Malta, we don’t really have a pool of foreigners, persons with disabilities, or other representatives of minorities who are ready to sacrifice themselves on the altar of politics as they do in the USA.
Ironically, a woman who decides to compete “with the men” does so on the platform that she is “like all women” and, presumably, therefore, understands our wants and needs. They tell us that it’s time that women being voting for women - rather as if they know what we do, or don’t.
They mention buzzwords such as glass ceilings while daring us to ask them about role reversal and who does the school run in the morning, and chide us for being complacent (i.e. not like them).
We all know that if women had to run Parliament, or at least be there on parity with men, there would be flexi-time, job-sharing, and teleworking as a matter of course. More money would be voted for healthcare, education, and eradication of poverty. Is this a sexist comment?
Alas, the much-vaunted “quotas” and “positive discrimination” will never give us a Rwanda-like legislature, which is 56.3 per cent female, or one akin to that of Andorra, which is 53.6 per cent female, or even like that of Sweden, at 45 per cent female.
A quota is not positive discrimination; it’s crumbs for the dogs, off the table of a rich man. Why should a man who is more competent than a woman be ousted, so false justice may be seen to have been done through an arbitrary system?
We are told to celebrate the differences between men and women, and in the same breath, it is pointed out to us that these differences must be redressed by (presumably) employing women who are less qualified then men, in order to “make up numbers”.
Dozens of papers - some with titles just this side of eccentricity - purport to explain why despite this so-called enlightenment, bias still exists against the distaff side.
We have The Portia Hypothesis, a study by Bentley Coffey (Clemson University, Department of Economics) and Patrick McLaughlin (George Mason University, Mercatus Center), which claims that female lawyers with masculine-sounding first names have better odds of becoming judges than colleagues with feminine names…at least in South Carolina.
We read about symphony orchestras that have adopted “blind” audition procedures where candidates perform behind a screen to conceal their gender. This, parenthetically, has led to more women being assumed.
Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner, had mooted a “gender quota”, wherein all publicly listed companies are to have at least 40 per cent of their boards composed of women by 2050. She said nothing about shop floors and minor staff. Would Reding be offended if anyone suggested she is where she is, because of a decree like the one she would like to see enacted?
Whatever happened to meritocracy?