After the last big “Year of the Woman” in American politics – 1992 – galvanized by Anita Thomas publicly accusing Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, it looked like women were on the road to gender parity in public office.
Twenty years later, we’re still only 17 percent of officeholders, while women are still at least 50 percent of the population. Hello there, Taxation without Representation?
In this regard, the US is way behind other countries. Many nations, from Spain and France to Rwanda and even Iraq, have tried to fix the rigged system with political parity laws, requiring parties to run female candidates by quota, or even reserving legislative seats for women. But the Q-word freaks Americans out, and mandated parity would never fly in the Land of the Free.
Women only seem to be players in American politics because of the marquee females in politics – HRC, Palin, Condi, Pelosi – whose notoriety proves the rule, and provides, as Rutgers Center for Women in Politics Director Debbie Walsh put it, “a veneer of accomplishment.”
This year, however, a record 18 women are running for the U.S. Senate (12 D, 6 R) and 163 running for the House (116 D, 47 R). So in a few days, we will know whether 2012 goes down in history asboth the year of the War on Women and another “Year of the Woman” in American politics.