RUNNING AS A WOMAN by Linda Witt

RUNNING AS A WOMAN

Gender and Power in American Politics

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A gripping exploration of women as politicians--and a primer for those befuddled by what the ``women's vote'' really is. Witt (a journalist), Paget (a political scientist), and Matthews (History/UC Berkeley) offer an authoritative, detailed exploration of women on the political scene from Jeannette Rankin's bid for Congress in 1916 to the triumph of the self-styled ``Thelma and Louise'' of the 1992 elections--Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. In doing so, the authors blend their expertise seamlessly to illuminate the rocky road of women who have sought political power. Early on, they explain, women in Congress were widows who inherited their husbands' seats. Among the pioneers elected on their own merits were California's Helen Gahagan Douglas, who wheeled a shopping cart into Congress to spotlight economic distress, and Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who wanted no part of being a feminist. But as the women's movement gained strength, more women sought office--though, faced with the burdens of raising money and attacks on their femininity, most tried to blend with male politicians. Later, campaigns of the 1980's played to the ``gender gap.'' The Democrats counted on Geraldine Ferraro's vice-presidential bid to pull the women's vote, but Republican analysts played to women's concerns about the economy and crime, and won. According to the authors, Anita Hill turned that around, and soon women coalesced around women: Checks poured into organizations like Emily's List, which funds women candidates, and women ran and won on women's issues, proclaiming their ``different voice.'' Facts, numbers, and charts add weight to moving anecdotes from women like Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, Texas Governor Ann Richards, and others. What's in the future? The authors predict that as more women enter politics, campaigns will become issue-oriented rather than gender-oriented. Thoughtful personal reflection and nitty-gritty political scheming: an important contribution to the always fascinating story of the scramble for power. (B&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-920315-5
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993




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