Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Women in New Hampshire Politics

There has been a fair amount of coverage about the way that women are in pretty much all positions of political power in New Hampshire right now. On the one hand, yay. On the other, it's not coincidental that NH state reps make practically nothing, and Amanda Hess makes good points:
What does it mean that the first state ruled by women is also the state where local politicians are valued the least? Seelye notes that the state “has a long history of volunteerism,” and serving as a local rep is so low-paying that it “amounts to an act of volunteerism.” Maybe nonwealthy men were unable or unwilling to seek office. Maybe women were more easily accepted into a version of public office that was seen as a public service as opposed to a high-status, high-paid political gig. After all, volunteering is a historically feminine realm, where women have been able to find meaningful unpaid work while their husbands followed a traditional career track.
As someone who is not an expert but has lived and voted in New Hampshire for a decade, I'd also point out that there are a ton of female state reps, yes, usually married women who don't work outside the home, but there are also a lot of retired people. The difference is that the young-ish women are the ones more likely to rise through the ranks and seek higher office rather than resigning after calling for eugenics.

So . . . yes, it's good that this system has managed to promote women. But I still think that a system that makes it virtually impossible for anyone who isn't independently wealthy, retired, or being supported by a spouse to get into local politics is ultimately problematic and needs to be changed.

1 comment:

  1. In his defense, he wasn't talking about shipping them all the way to the *actual* Siberia first....

    No? Yeah, I got nothing. Is it too much to hope that it's age related dementia speaking rather than deep-seated prejudice?