Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our Time – Our Turn

Two events happened this week that lit a flame under me about politics as relates to women. One was Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, and the other was a comment "bomb" that Craig Smith (the Clinton’s sort of “go-to” guy for forever) dropped on me at an Austin Ready for Hillary fundraiser.

In her Academy Awards acceptance speech for Supporting Actress for the movie 'Boyhood,' Patricia Arquette said…


To which Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez and Shirley MacLaine reacted:

Women in media are fed up with being paid less than their male peers. Check out some of the shocking and depressing results in this recent report from The Women's Media Center.

The second event was the Ready for Hillary fundraiser, which I sponsored in Austin because I have always supported women in politics and always will, because gender matters.  Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and author of Lean In says Stereotypes are very reinforcing because as human beings we expect what is familiar. In tech, girls don’t code because girls don’t code. The same goes for politics. The halls of congress are sparsely populated by women (20%) because the halls of congress are sparsely populated by women. Female perspective is relevant and important. Gender matters.

Before I tell you the Craig Smith "bomb," here are a few Very Smart Gals who were at the Ready for Hillary fundraiser.  (l-r) Debbie Tate, Lulu Flores, Jan Soifer, yours truly, Shannon Sedwick and Nan McRaven.

Debbie Tate, who comes from a long line of political activists, is the Director of Development and Communication at The Center for Child Protection. Lulu Flores, the immediate past chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus, has been a dedicated social activist her entire life. Jan Soifer is the hard-working Chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, and a trove of entertaining stories about Austin politics. Shannon Sedwick – well who doesn’t know Shannon - Austin’s venerable actress, comedian and owner of Esther’s Follies. Nan McRaven, McRaven Consulting, provides PR primarily to tech and education organizations and is a long-time member of the Austin Community College Board of Directors and a highly respected community leader.

The morning of this fundraiser, I'd seen an article in the NY Times saying that Hillary Clinton was going to "finally play the gender card." I was anxious to ask Craig Smith about this, because I believe women want to be acknowledged for the power they possess as voters, and when I did, his reply sort of blew me away. 

I can’t quote exactly but it was something to the effect that high-income women over 60 years of age are a huge block that could or could not make Hillary, or any woman, a viable presidential candidate.  Then he said (again, not a direct quote) that high-income women over age 60 secretly want to vote for Hillary (a woman), but they fear for their incomes (higher taxes) and they fear for the security of their neighborhoods/homes (terrorism). The conversation went on, but this was particularly provocative, and stimulated many more questions in my mind.

If you would like to support the campaign to get Hillary Clinton into the presidential race, you can do that here. If you would like to support all women running for public office, you can do that here.

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