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Backtracking in the Halls of Power

It’s not the greatest time for women’s equality in the halls of power. First of all, as the final result from this year’s election come limping in, it’s confirmed: This is the first time in decades that women have not made strides in our representation in national government. We’ve backtracked.

How did this happen, when 2010 was supposed to be the year of the women? It’s complicated: Some feminist thinkers theorize that since the Republicans swept in running on anti-women policies, the voters who leaned in that direction might be less than thrilled by so many powerful women looking to gain office. In other words, the theory is that many of the same voters who vote for women tend to vote Democratic, thus the loss. It was also just an anti-incumbent year, and several of the strong congresswomen who won in the last few cycles ran for re-election and got pushed out by that tide.

Whether any of these theories explain the numbers or not, it’s a stinging moment for women. The U.S. ranks well behind other countries in terms of female representation in government and whatever your politics, that’s just ugly. Women’s advocacy groups are regrouping and getting ready for another round.

But it’s hard not be feel defeated. Just yesterday, Senate Republicans killed the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help end gender discimination at the workplace (and which I’ve written about previously for The Sisterhood.) If this is the result of our current Congress, what kind of bills are going to come out of the next one?

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