On air: Are women taken seriously in politics?

Following your response to Mark’s post this will be one of your topics today. Here’s the discussion you’ve already been having.

Obviously, i don’t think there is one. But this issue came up for a few reasons;
Firstly, the comments of Silvio Berlusconi have got people talking in a country which has fewer women politicians than Afghanistan. It does seem that the top man in Italy relates to women in power on one level only :

– he once told delegates at a conference that he noticed “some extraordinary pretty legs around here” …

– recently he told reporters that “”Rightwing women are definitely more beautiful than leftwing ones”

Alright, Silvio is Silvio you might say, but in Spain , the PM has given 9 out of 17 cabinet posts to women (“too pink” is the verdict of the Italian PM ), and it seems that Europe’s press can’t get enough of them.

Some articles concentrate on their glamour and attractiveness, rather than their fitness for the job, in a way that wouldn’t apply to a man.

At the meeting today, Chloe suggested asking “Do men make better politicians “, which is not dissimilar to a debate we did last year and featured Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but a look around the blogosphere (even before you start looking at all the Hillary stuff) suggests that in some quarters the debate isn’t that advanced.

We’ve decided not to do it on the show today but would rather you told us whether it should move from the blog- to the radio show.

115 Responses to “On air: Are women taken seriously in politics?”

  1. 1 steve
    April 17, 2008 at 14:33

    Oh jeez, don’t get me going. First of all, I think ANYONE who is involved in politics is inherently unqualified. To want to be a politicans means you want power, status and attention in the modern age. Things were different before the camera, TV, and instant communications. You had people more genuinely in for leadership rather than self serving reasons (ie either love of power, attention, or lining one’s pockets). so I think it’s wrong for women to be singled out, as the men are just as bad when it comes to politics. The people we need to be leaders don’t want to be politicians in the first place, so all we have left is the scum that want attention and power. I just wish psychologists would do studies on politicians to reveal to those in denial what is so obvious.

  2. 2 John in Salem
    April 17, 2008 at 15:26

    Jeez, Mark… why not pick something easier, like abortion or gun control?

    If the debate is about the differing media and cultural responses to women in politics it would be worthwhile to talk about on air but not if it’s whether women are more or less competent than men.

  3. 3 Will Rhodes
    April 17, 2008 at 15:28

    Nothing at all wrong with women politicians – as long as they can do the job who cares what gender they are.

  4. April 17, 2008 at 15:50

    Of course, you should discuss this on air! For the simple reason that these discussions inform, if even in some small way, contemporary notions about leadership in our various contexts. Whether in Italy, Jamaica, the US, cross-cutting issues about acess, fairplay, gender, human rights and equal opportunity, etc are also impacted by this kind of conversation. Consciousness needs to be raised in terms of facilitating the best and brightest leaders in the modern world. Hence, why we need this discussion on air.

  5. 5 Janet T
    April 17, 2008 at 15:50

    Will- I agree,
    but they do seem to be judged differently, at least in the US, other countries seem to do better with this issue.
    In the US if a woman is tough- “what a bitch”, but if she shows emotion it’s “oh my god she’ll fall apart with her hand on the nuclear button”
    I think the US is very much a patriarchal society- with the Senate being the glass ceiling for Women in politics. It may take the next generation to change this- or a better candidate with less baggage.
    And Steve I agree with one thing- you have to be slightly off to want to be in politics.
    Janet in Oregon

  6. April 17, 2008 at 15:52

    Of course, there are other ways of facilitating this reality but media play a crucial role in terms of broadening out, as well as highlighting in a special way, some of these issues and their impact on peoples’ lives across the globe.

  7. 7 steve
    April 17, 2008 at 16:10

    @ Janet

    Look up “narcissistic personality disorder” and you’ll see what Politicians are. It’s not just “slightly” off. You wouldn’t want these people babysitting your kids, so why should they “babysit” the entire nation? We need to stop voting for mentally ill people.

  8. 8 Ros Atkins
    April 17, 2008 at 16:13

    Right Steve that’s your one ‘narcissistic’ on this thread! I think veterans of the whys blog will know your views on politicians, and your enthusiasm for this word. But let’s not get bogged down on it as we have in the past. as you said ‘don’t get me started’, so on this case we won’t.

  9. 9 Mark Sandell
    April 17, 2008 at 16:17

    Agostinho, i remember WHYS doing a link up with RJR in Jamaica when Portia Simpson Miller was elected. Did she change attitudes in Jamaica when she was in office ? How did the press treat her ?

  10. 10 steve
    April 17, 2008 at 16:18

    Okay Ros, but why keep on bringing up all these topics about politicians, which all prove my point, if this isn’t something that can be discussed? Look at every single topic you have about politicians. They all prove my point. Imagine if you had a topic about the Hillary Clinton thing and her dodging sniper bullets in Bosnia, despite knowing it was filmed, despite having written about it in the past, she still told a lie thinking everyone would believe her. Classic symptom. But I will respect your wishes, but it doesn’t make much sense to bring up a subject and then say you cannot discuss all aspects of it.

  11. 11 Virginia Davis
    April 17, 2008 at 16:37

    For the most part, “politicians” are defined by the patriarchy. As this changes, for instance in Spain, definitions will change. It is interesting how much interest and excitement is being generated by the two Democratic nominees for US president.
    Both men and women can be competent leaders.

    Bobby Sands once said “Everyone has a part to play.” I sent the Harvard text on conflict resolution to 6 County Sinn Fein during the run up to the Good Friday Agreement and almost immediately the language/concepts changed in Irish Republican texts.

    Virginia in Oregon

  12. 12 David from Australia
    April 17, 2008 at 16:54

    Look at what some men politicians have done to this world. They can not agree on climate change, they are really bullies around the place, they have caused enormous trouble in the world today, they stick to each other like glued cardboard, they can not cook for themselves and they think they are better than women. I think we should revisit the word better! Leave women alone. They are as good if not netter than some men. By the way without women, men would not survive.

    By the way I am not a woman, I am a man but will never belittle a woman.

    One person who understands that a woman is as good as a man is the Prime Minister of Australia Mr Kevin Rudd, a real man of vision and I am proud to say so.

  13. April 17, 2008 at 18:12

    Thanks for your question Mark.

    Unfortunately, I missed the discussion about the former Jamaican PM on WHYS. However, I think that it would be too convenient to try and respond to your question with either a simple yes or no answer. So bear with me, while I share some related information.

    Firstly, there are conflicting views on the subject of gender in Jamaican politics, even now. Mrs. Simpson-Miller’s short legacy as PM, some argue, in part owes to why she is now the Leader of the Opposition. Many felt and, probably still feel, that her presidency of the former ruling party cost them the elections last September. Among others, she was criticised, and very seriously so too, for “not being statesman-like” (enough?) or “Prime Ministerial”.

    Indeed, some of the attack ads used against her in the elections, which were similar to those used by her opponents in her own party during the campaign to be president, classified her as an unlearned virago, incapable of (good) leadership. She was often portrayed as not especially smart and, therefore, unable to bring the “polish” needed (?) for the effective execution of as awesome a task as leadership of Jamaica.

    Apparently, these ads worked because her favourability ratings plumetted from a high of approximately 76% – a record for any Jamaican politician – to low forties/ high thirties in the approximately year and a half of her leadership. Of course, there is the needed reminder as well, that those elections were the closest in the country’s history, with only a two seat difference in Jamaica’s sixty seat parliament.

    Significantly, these election were also called at a time when the country had just come out of a devastating hurricane (Dean) and morale was very low. Added to which, there were widely reported disagreements between her and the upper levels of her party about an appropriate date for calling elections due, in part, to the hurricane as well as other factors.

    As it stands, currently, we may even be going back to the polls. A recent Supreme Court ruling has deemed one of our Government MPs ineligible to sit in the House because he had dual citizenship status at the time of winning his seat. He was both an American and Jamaican citizen. His case, as you may imagine, is not unique, we are told, in terms of elected MPs in the House. So there are lots that have and are impacting this discussion, some of which are perhaps fate, others of which are the direct consequence (?) of Mrs. Simpson-Miller’s leadership (style) and how that is/ was understood regarding attitudes towards gender in popular/ political leadership in Jamaica.

    Entrenched issues about class, education and, sadly, race also came to the fore during her leadership. Mrs. Simpson Miller is not originally from what some claim is the traditional class background of others of her male colleagues. She is also said to have completed her university education much later than many, because of disruptions to that process during her early life which started in rural Jamaica. The popular perception, of course, is that most politicians in Jamaica are from a middle-class background, which if even not urban-centred, has affiliations with groups like those because of similar values, etc. Regarded, therefore, as “downtown” (read black for many) in origins, she is said to not have appealed to many after her teflon armour began wearing thin and the criticisms, especially from the media, were coming fast and furious.

    As you might imagine, like most other places, race is an especially problematic issue for us in a majority black country, where certain representations of identity are classified as “uptown” and, therefore, acceptable and “downtown” and, you guessed it, not unacceptable. In this case, “black” (whatever that means!) was not considered the desired ideal, though there are conflicting views on this.

    So, to come back to your question – Mrs. Simpson-Miller’s leadership certainly shone the light rather brightly on the subject of access and how that is related to other inter-connecting issues of education, class background, gender, race, among a slew of others. Unfortunately, most of the discussion was couched in what I think is not the most appealing language and has left a somewhat bitter aftertaste for many. So, I am not altogether sure how to respond to your question, in truth.

    In the meantime, let me introduce you to my blog address, as I plan to write about some of these issues there, as part of my ongoing research into this subject. Here is the link: http://rawpoliticsjamaicastyle.blogspot.com/.

    Thanks for obliging me.

  14. 14 Mark Sandell
    April 17, 2008 at 18:17

    Thankyou for a very comprehensive answer Agostinho..

  15. April 17, 2008 at 18:28

    You are welcome! Grateful I could share in the disussion.

  16. 16 Jens
    April 17, 2008 at 19:45

    It is simple.

    Politics is too seriouse to be left in the hands of politicians, independent of gender.

  17. April 17, 2008 at 20:49

    ehhhm, well there are a few reasons why they can’t make good politicians and/ or leaders. First, they are illogical, untrustworthy, and unpredictable. Why do you think that we used to names storms after them? That is until the PC movement forced a change.

    Secondly, most Women go through PMS every month where they have uncontrollable mood swings. They become irritable nervous wrecks who need a gallon of ice cream to make it through the day. they are basically injured for seven days with a bleeding open wound. You never know, they might start a war for no apparent reason during this time.

    Women lack skills in math, science, and negotiation required to be a good politician. They never let facts muddy their opinion. This is especially a detriment in cultures where women are looked down upon. I mean look how many times did Ms. Rice go over to Palestine and claim she had made headway only to have the leaders ignore her once she left?

    Last, let’s not forget women can get pregnant. What do you do if your representative or leader has to take 4 months off to have a baby. Then you are not actually being represented by the person you voted for.

    I can’t believe you people missed these obvious reasons. There are plenty more but theses are the most profound.

    (disclosure: this is satirical. Please don’t start posting nasty comments for this reason only. However, do know that there are many people, men and women alike, who follow this mentality and they vote, oh yes they vote. It is so hard for me to get them to Hate Hillary Clinton for the right reasons, and not the wrong ones. lol)

  18. 18 Abi
    April 18, 2008 at 05:28

    There is nothing wrong with women being in politics and doing a good job as leaders. Margaret Thatcher and Golda Mayer are classic examples.

  19. April 18, 2008 at 13:13

    Hi Steve, Akbar here in Tehran

    The stereotyped view of Mr. Berlusconi to women, is typical of Mediterranean men, flattering and light-hearted: But it does little for the image of women in general.
    We are crying out for women politicians in Iran. The fate of women is appalling. Covered and packaged like mummies, they carry the main burden of housekeeping, breeding, shopping, and playing second fiddle to their men folk. None of the men in the region care. Neither the Arabs nor Afghans or Pakistanis have the slightest interest in the issue. Leave them as they are, they say, otherwise all hell will break loose. Let hell break loose, otherwise we will remain in the Dark Ages for the present century and possibly the entire third millennium.
    Try telling the man in the street that his wife has a right to work in Iran, to contribute to society, to relax for a couple of hours each day and get away from the stove. Day after day, it is the same routine of grueling house chores, washing nappies, and standing over the cooking pot, watching the rice simmer, and her varicose veins bulge out. Women are like chattels, he’ll say. The general view is, let them suffer, keep them down, encourage ignorance so that they become easier to handle. One housewife said: “I wish I was your pet dog; at least you feed it, cherish it, and look after it.”
    Please, Steve, could you be a little more sympathetic? Man is naturally jealous and ambitious. So are women: But should we keep them down because we are afraid of a little competition or challenge?

  20. 20 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 14:22

    @ Akbar:

    Hey, I’m all for equality. I just think politicians, regardless of sex, are unqualified to be be leaders. They should have equality , and lay side by side, in a mental institution….

    Your country has far more issues than mine does when it comes to women. But you can have extremists on both sides of the gender “War”. I saw a car with a bumper sticker a couple days ago that said “A woman’s place is in the House, Senate, and the Oval Office”. Imagine if a male said something like that. There would be holy hell raised.

  21. 21 Will Rhodes
    April 18, 2008 at 14:28

    It does seem that the top man in Italy relates to women in power on one level only :

    – he once told delegates at a conference that he noticed “some extraordinary pretty legs around here” …

    – recently he told reporters that “”Rightwing women are definitely more beautiful than leftwing ones”

    Now you see, I don’t find anything wrong in that. Mr Berlusconi has an eye for the women and he has an eye for making a few quid (dollars). A lot of the time they do go hand in hand – except Mr Berlusconi is more open and vocal about his views – why this causes offence I really don’t know. OK, for a male politician in the PC world we are having to slumber through at the moment it will be seen as a sexist remark – but, and this is the important part to me, if he had said that the ‘nice-legged’ woman was an idiot because she was a woman, then you would have more of a problem.

    What people need to do to get some level of understanding is look into the whole culture of Italy – I think many would be fascinated with it.

    Overall – as I said before, if a woman can do the job she is elected to do – who cares about gender – what I do take offence to is women being promoted to a position that would, under normal circumstances, be above her abilities in comparison to a male colleague.

    Have a look at the feminist debate on my blog.

  22. April 18, 2008 at 14:28

    I would hope that a person is elected to parliament because he or she represents the views of his/ her constituency. If people believe a woman would represent their idea’s better than a man then hopefully they would elect a woman. I think people vote on personality and as a result of would best suit them not just gender.

    Its interesting how the female german vice chancellor has not been mentioned in discussion yet? Is she not being taken seriously ?

  23. 23 CarlosK
    April 18, 2008 at 14:54

    Hi All

    Definitely not!

    We here in Jamaica had the opportunity to choose a “classy lady” and the media, her own party members and the opposition trashed her! The media even commented on the fact that she wore a dress twice! She was dragged through the muck.

    The fact that she has black skin and from working class background did not help her as well. The elitist, white and brown skin, conspired and brought her down to the ground. The elections ended September 3, 2007 and even todate there are still negative editorial cartoons being published of her dressed as a virago.

    Women are definitely not taken serious in politics in Jamaica. And you should see the fellow they replaced her with as Prime Minister! This goes to shows that egotistical males and females would rather be lead by any man even an incompetent one than a capable and qualified lady.

  24. 24 Ahmad Hammad
    April 18, 2008 at 15:16

    Well Mark, It is really a great question…

    After anchoring a few tv shows with the politicians of my country, I have learned that in politics both women and men are equally eloquent. They are alike in their blood chemistry and political dynamics.

    Pakistan has elected a woman Speaker of the Parliament. She is doing well. After being elected, she said that she would behave like a mother. Being a mother is particular to the women only and thus they know how to do justice to the offsprings, how to resolve the issues with love and care.

    She was of the view that a woman could handle the sessions better than a male speaker. She said that it was woman who knew the tactics as to how she could introduce peace among two quarrelling childern.Therefore, for a woman speaker it doesn’t remain difficult to handle the extraordinarily charged opponents. She could subside the conflicts and resolve the issue far better than the male speakers.

    We, the Pakistanis, were simply unaware of this secret weapon the women had to try into the politics too.
    Honestly I am, alongwith a lot of other Pakistanis, much impressed by this quality of women of which we never knew before Dr. Fahmida Mirza.
    And now I am of the view that, yes, women should participate in the politics. They will be taken seriously by the society once they successfully applied their tactics to bring change, introduce peace and subside the major issues.
    That’s true that for the time being, people don’t take them seriously but the things are fast changing.

    We should introduce the eastern part of women to the west I believe.
    In the east, women are valued, loved and respected. We, in general, still hesitate to make them a selling agent or a brand embassador.
    We do trust in their qualities, but unfortunately fear of trying them in politics. By and by, this scenario will change too. Fatima Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto and Fahmida Mirza are the icons of Pakistani women in politics now.

    However the real challenge lies with the social injustice in our societies. The dictators tailor the judicial system that suits them. And this toppling plays havoc especially to the meager. Elongated dictatorship and thereupon the suspension of basic human rights make the society seem like a jungle where “might is right” become the basic feature of the society. And in such a society, women are considered to be the meager-most creature. And of course, not taken seriously in any arena, leave aside the matter of politics.

    In a just society, and this is what ours is going to be, women are taken seriously in every field. A motherly Speaker of the House is expected to turn us even more moderate and proud of our women!

  25. 25 Katharina in Ghent
    April 18, 2008 at 15:29

    @ Hannah:

    Angela Merkel got into the headlines just this week because she went to the opening of the new Oslo opera house and wore a dress that was somewhat generously cut around her neckline – plenty of pictures and a report where you could feel the drewl coming out of the reporters mouth… really sad. What really strikes me is how the democratic debate boils down to: “who do we trust more, a white woman or a black man?”, their programs don’t interest anyone anymore. If they did, then Hillary would probably in the lead, because she has a much more concrete plan about what she wants to do.

    The problem that we see in Europe a lot with female politicians is that they know that they are only token women so that the Prime Minister can show that he cares about equality, so these women are in their position mainly out of the grace of him and therefore they don’t dare to bring in their own ideas, and also don’t help to improve the position of the rest of the women in the country. This holds true especially for women who work for conservative governments, but you can see it on both sides. Only the smaller parties like the Green party in Austria, which was actually founded by a women, really mean what they say and live up to their promise. But the big parties… forget it. Too many male networks.

  26. April 18, 2008 at 15:31

    I’d like to invite people to read a related article on women and politics:

    The Guardian writes:

    “An Italian politican preoccupied with fashion, hair and fake tan, and prone to emotional outbursts? […] This week it emerged, to no one’s great surprise, that the newly re-elected Italian prime minister seems to have something of a problem with women in government.”

    “Berlusconi isn’t the only person who has been critical of Zapatero’s decision to appoint nine women to his 17-strong cabinet… One conservative commentator in Spain described Zapatero’s female-majority cabinet as his “battalion of inexperienced seamstresses.”

    Full article at:


  27. 27 Peter Gizzi UK
    April 18, 2008 at 15:45

    When I vote I choose the person I consider best qualified for the job. Should that be a woman I vote for her. Sadly today the death was announced of Gwyneth Dunwoody a truly accomplished politician. Sadly also today many politicians both men and women are there to line their pockets. Politics takes second place.

    Angela Merkel is mentioned. Should she become President of all Europe I will have had no say in her appoinment? I regard her as rather devious, though that again can be said of many politicians.

    I do notice that countries where there are fewer women in power tend to be the more religious ones?

  28. 28 muthee Mwangi
    April 18, 2008 at 15:50

    Hi WHYS
    Regardless of what many people think, women are increasingly being taken very serioiusly in politics these days.
    Personally, like Wangari Maathai would put it, i wouldn’t care about the anatomy below the belt as that between the ears when confronted by a choice during voting.
    If the Burmese junta doesn’t take Aung Sung Su Kyi seriously, i don’t think she would be languishing in prison.
    It is patriarchal societies that need to style up.

  29. 29 Alessandra Granelli
    April 18, 2008 at 15:52

    One of the distinguishing marks of my Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is to underline, as often as he can, that the main role of women into society is to be pretty, a little silly, stay at home, make food for the man coming back from work and take care of babies. An idyllic prospect for every girl, no doubt.
    This is the picture that his TVs keep on strengthening and showing to million of persons and to girls who think that in Italy to be a “winner” is enough to have a nice bottom and to get married to a soccer player.
    So it isn’t a big surprise that a man like that doesn’t take women in politics seriously. Zapatero’s Government is an example of a real grown up Democracy.
    The more Berlusconi talks the more i think he mistook the epoch to rule the Country, 1922 would have been perfect for him. At least he would have shared the same big ego with a bald headed friend.
    Women should be taken seriously in politics, or in any job, as much as men. A person shouldn’t be judged for wearing trousers or a skirt, a person should be judge for his ideas and cleverness. I think Zapatero hasn’t chosen those women because they are women but because they are well-qualified.

  30. 30 Anthony
    April 18, 2008 at 15:52

    Well, I watch cnn and c-span when I’m not listening to the BBC or World Have Your Say, and first off, I do believe that there are a lot of politicians who care about the good of the people, and second, the women are taken just as seriously as the men. If you don’t believe me, check out c-span.org or the congressional hearing feeds on CNN. If everything was as bad as everyone is saying, the U.S. would be in a MUCH worse situation than it is right now.

    -Anthony, LA, CA 🙂

  31. 31 Katrina Koch
    April 18, 2008 at 15:55

    While I laughed out loud at Dwight’s satirical comments, I have a more straightforward observation. Women in politics have to deal with an issue that men don’t face: the “nice-ness” factor.

    In order to prove that they are strong enough for office, women have to be just as conniving and calculating as male politicians. But when women portray these characteristics, they appear less “feminine” because they aren’t being “nice.”

    In Tuesday night’s debate, Hillary Clinton showed that she can dig up political dirt with the “best” of them. According to an interview with on NPR’s All Things Considered, one voter “said she was leaning toward Clinton because she liked Clinton’s confidence and the way she marshaled facts.” Not everyone liked her “confidence,” however. Apparently, her political digging created an overly aggressive (too male?) image, because Wednesday she tried to portray a different image.

    From http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/04/17/say_shes_really_nice_clinton_t.html:

    During the question and answer session, a supporter asked Clinton what she should say when she went canvasing on behalf of the New York senator in the Keystone State. “Just knock on the door and say ‘You know, she’s really nice,'” Clinton said to loud applause. “Or “you can say … ‘She’s not as bad as you think.'”

    Until we can get past this emotional game of “nice-ness” women politicians feel the need to play, I don’t think women in politics will receive the same amount of respect as men in politics. (Yes–that was purposely left vague.) 🙂

  32. 32 gary
    April 18, 2008 at 16:04

    I see no reason why women should not fill slightly more than half of all professional positions. They are certainly as intelligent as and demonstrably more durable than men are. Mr. Berlusconi’s comments, and indeed all sexual innuendo, are simply ways used by many men to make women feel self-conscious. Some people find it necessary to make others feel ill at ease, so that they may feel more in control. I think this explains Mr. Berlusconi’s comments.

  33. 33 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 16:12

    @ Gary

    “I see no reason why women should not fill slightly more than half of all professional positions.”

    Why only “professional” positions? Why when women seek “equality” they only seek it at the top? Why not be half of janitors? Half of slaughterhouse workers? Half of crime scene cleanup crews?

    Why is it always only the top positions? Half of Board Members, half aof politicians, but eewww? clean the blood of a slaughterhouse floor? no thanks…

    Selective equality means you aren’t really equal.

    “Mr. Berlusconi’s comments, and indeed all sexual innuendo, are simply ways used by many men to make women feel self-conscious.”

    Again, you aren’t holding women responsible for their actions. Nobody is forcing them to feel self conscious. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”. You clearly don’t think women are equal if you think they need to be a pedestal and protected from themselves.

  34. 34 Nick in USA
    April 18, 2008 at 16:31

    Are we talking about voters or elitist Harvard grad party leaders and campaign funders? If it’s the prior I’d say they are treated fairly, but as for the latter, I would have to say no. In my opinion, these types of inequality problems can all be solved by instant run-off voting. The people who are responsible for getting a candidate elected are an elite group of well educated white guys who tend to promote from within. The voters need a real choice, not a choice between the lesser of two evils. If we commit to a new election system and campaign finance reform, we might actually get some women in powerful positions.

  35. April 18, 2008 at 16:54

    Ofcourse they are.Otherwise you would’nt have had a woman prime minister in Sri Lanka–Srimavo Bandaranayake,India– Indra Ghandhi, Gt.Britian– Magrate Thacher- the iron lady and once again in India The woman behind the Prime Minister Soniya Ghandi,A couple of chief ministers in various states in India.
    How-ever, Woman ,Wine and Electricity has to be controled by men. If not we will have shocking results.

  36. 36 lydia nayo
    April 18, 2008 at 17:03

    Doesn’t the answer to the question depend on who you ask? The Berlesconi example being prime? The guy who doesn’t take well to politicians being but another?

    Media attention to female politicians is different, isn’t it, from constituent attention being paid to politicians, of course. Constituents want a public servant, with the capacity to be responsive and responsible, without regard, sometimes, to their gender. TV wants ratings, and if that means focusing on Mrs. Clinton’s pantsuits and her cankles, so be it.

  37. 37 Devadas. v via email
    April 18, 2008 at 17:54

    Indiragandhi in the 70s and 80s was the strongest prime-minister after nehru in india till present. Godameyer, Sirimavobandaranayake, there are umpteen examples of powerful women who skated through the politics of power and left a mark in history.
    Woman or men just remember “all are part of a piece and piece of a whole”.

    By this theory its up to the individuals deciding on male and female issue in politics for me by this theory of part of a piece and piece of a whole male or female there is no distinction as its part of a whole scenario.

    But sadly in india 33%reservation for womens bill cant be passed due to the opposition of male chauvanists members of indian parliament who has still this male dominance theory at heart ignoring this part of a piece and piece of a whole theory.

    Devadas. v, India

  38. 38 Scott Millar
    April 18, 2008 at 18:00

    @ Steve

    Aren’t woman already doing the “lowly” jobs you speak of? There is, yes, certain objective validity in the point you make. But there isn’t a conspiracy by women and “their friends” to only get the good jobs. When people speak of aspirations and strive to achieve something great, it is natural that it will be something great they propose.

    -Portland, Oregon

  39. 39 Kwabena via email
    April 18, 2008 at 18:02

    A persons competence has nothing to do with the gender. Personally i will look at issues and not gender when voting.


  40. 40 Obeds via email
    April 18, 2008 at 18:03

    Leadership is not about gender but it all has to do with what agenda the person who wants to assume the leadership post brings to the table. There are women who have done well in big corporations in the world and still we know of men who have failed so many companies by their poor leadership.

    Sometimes I tend to believe that the world would be a better place with women leaders. However I know leadership is not an easy calling.


  41. 41 Andrew via email
    April 18, 2008 at 18:08

    The one thing that has been shown time and time again is that regardless of the leader, their background, their party, etc once in politics man or woman they simply become politicians. I don’t see that women are any better or any worse in politics. A politician is a politician the world over and what motivates them inevitably sets their agenda (that of self-interest, power and the pursuit of personal gain). Take away the dress and make up and they are indistinguishable from male counterparts.

    Andrew, Australia

  42. 42 Serina
    April 18, 2008 at 18:15

    Does it really matter? Take a look at women like Thatcher or Clinton, Mier or Clarke in NZ. Tough as old boots and other than being born women… they are just political animals. All of them the same. So I doubt that there is anything special about being female in politics is there? If anything I have the feeling they are probably more ruthless than the boys.

  43. 43 Jude
    April 18, 2008 at 18:15

    While, in America, women may not be represented in equal proportion to our population, I could certainly say that women are taken seriously in politics in America.

    We have a female Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi), serious female candidate for President, past and present (Shirley Chisolm, Elizabeth Dole, Hillary Clinton), we’ve had a female vice presidential candidate (Geraldine Ferraro), and countless female state governors, past and present, as well as Representatives, Senators, Federal Judges, and Cabinet members.

    If women weren’t taken seriously in politics, these women would never have been voted into, or appointed to, the respective held offices.

  44. 44 Alan via email
    April 18, 2008 at 18:17

    Let’s get real. If it wasn’t for wives controlling our male world leaders, we would have destroyed the planet 50 years ago! Women have more common sense, let them rule the world so we can have Peace at last!

    Alan, Arizona

  45. 45 Claire
    April 18, 2008 at 18:18

    I hate the corruption I see in the American political system and would much rather steer well clear of it. However, I have always told my friends and family that if the establishment ticks me off enough, I’ll get out there and try to fix things myself. I’m nearing the tipping point and should the dithering and dealing in Washington continue as they are, I will begrudgingly get off my rear end and use all the righteous indignation of a young woman to do my best to whip the government back into shape and thwart sexism.

    Do they take women politicians seriously? They better. I’m coming. Stop looking at my butt.

    Claire, American teenager in Germany

  46. 46 Grady Ward
    April 18, 2008 at 18:22

    I have heard argued that women are less trustworthy as leaders because they periodically suffer PMS. I don’t know why this is worse than men suffering testosterone poisoning ALL the time.

  47. 47 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 18:23

    @ Scott

    Not everybody wants to be a millionaire. You don’t have to have a high status/paying job to be “great”. Again, why aren’t there more female coal miners? Pick and choose equality isn’t equality. If you seek equality only at the top, then you aren’t really looking for equality. There is no conspiracy by men to keep men in all the top positions. In fact, if you look at studies , women in major US cities make more than men their age until age 30. Why age 30? Women start quitting to be stay at home moms or switching to part time. You’re not going to be a CEO if you aren’t working or work part time. Sorry, but that’s life. It’s not the system out to get you, but you have to work hard and long to get to positions of power. It isn’t handed to you on a plate unless you were born into a rich family. Do you think paris hilton would be wealthy had she been born to middle class parents? She was handed everything she has, and there are strict rules in place so she doesn’t squander it all.

  48. 48 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 18:27

    @ Alan

    let them rule the world so we can have Peace at last!

    Alan, Arizona

    Um, you do realize that Thatcher went to war with Argentina, right? Golda Meir with the arab nations. You knew this, right?

    A lot of good Eva Braun did moderating the behavior of Adolf Hitler, eh?

  49. 49 Banks via email
    April 18, 2008 at 18:27

    Anyone who manages to claw their way to the top in high-level politics must be tough, but it seems to me the women who achieve it turn out to be even more nasty and vicious than their male counterparts. Vis. Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, et al…… Hillary Clinton, for example…… Mme Johnson-Surleaf is an exception : strength Plus wisdom.

    As for Berlusconi, I think he’s a little Too pink….Facelifts and hair transplants……Please…..Spare Us !!!

    Banks, Amsterdam

  50. 50 Trinity, Trinidad
    April 18, 2008 at 18:27

    Sigh, An intelligent and educated, well intentioned and amply qualified woman it seems will always face an uphill, more so than a comparably qualified man, in any profession. The history of our species is a patriarchal one. It is ingrained in us that our leaders must be men. But to be fair the appearance thing goes both ways. More so for women because of social pressures but, McCain has the worst comb-over since Bobby Charlton in the 1960s in, what I have to believe, is an ill-fated attempt at vanity.

  51. 51 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 18:28

    @ Grady, it was a joke. The presenter didn’t read the part of the email saying it was satire. However, any guy who has ever been involved with a woman realizes that women excuse all sorts of nasty behavior as PMS, hence they aren’t responsible for what they do.

  52. 52 Jen
    April 18, 2008 at 18:30

    For those who state PMS as a reason women should not participate or lead in politics…

    That is just buying into a misogynist stereotype supposing that we women can’t behave in a rational manner in the face of bad moods. If we are going to buy into stereotypes, then is it be any better to have men in politics – incompetent men who are genetically predisposed toward violent acts, are cuckolded by their women, can’t do anything for themselves, are distracted by sex thoughts every 7 seconds of the day, who are distracted by fighting their primal impulses to propagate the species by having sex with as many females as possible?

    We’re humans – men AND women – trying to evolve past our evolutionary impulses. Both bring strengths and weaknesses to the table. Both should work together to bring balance.

  53. April 18, 2008 at 18:33

    In India’s most populous state Utter Pradesh, we have one more dynamic women as Chife Minister, She is a self made politician and will become Prime Minister in the future. She is a very good leader and is in process of uniting all castes under policy of Sarvajan Samaj(all people society). She is one of the best women leader in Modern India

    CEO, ambedkar.org

  54. April 18, 2008 at 18:34

    In India’s most populous state Utter Pradesh, we have one of the most dynamic women as Chief Minister Mayawati, She is a self made politician and will become Prime Minister in the future. She is a very good leader and is in process of uniting all castes under policy of Sarvajan Samaj(all people society). She is one of the best women leader in Modern India

    CEO, ambedkar.org

  55. 55 Adia Bright
    April 18, 2008 at 18:34

    I have no problem in a woman leading a country. I was elated when Portia-Simpson Miller was chosen to lead Jamaica’s People’s National Party, that was until election was called and she started her campaign. It was awful!
    Their loss in the election was due to her unlady like behaviour and down right crassness. I’m a lot more proud to have Mr. Bruce Golding represent me as a Prime Minister of my country and not Mrs. Simpson Miller – He’ll do a much better job!!!

  56. April 18, 2008 at 18:39

    In spain when the pm is included with the cabinet, gender is split 50/50.

  57. 57 Frank via text
    April 18, 2008 at 18:41

    Does the sex of candidates affect to you ? Absolutely not ! spain is moving very fast and forward !


  58. 58 John Smith
    April 18, 2008 at 18:42

    Women are just as competent as men, as long as they are given a fair chance. The problem is that society judges women differently. If she is too emotional, there is criticism and if she rules with an iron fist, there is also criticism.

  59. 59 Margie via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:42

    As a female citizen of the US, I would consider going into politics (on a local level) some day.
    And as for voting, I have always made it a practice to vote for a woman whenever she is at least minimally qualified to hold the office in question — not only if she is better-qualified than her male opponent.
    I believe that we need more women in government, so I give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Margie, Oregon

  60. April 18, 2008 at 18:43

    Look at Condoleezza Rice, she has not accomplished much. I believe the reason why is because no one takes her seriously.

  61. 61 ada
    April 18, 2008 at 18:43

    I think indeed men and women are not treated equally and will not be treated equally in the next 5-10 years at least. But women have always known how to lead from behind the courtain.

  62. 62 Matthew via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:45

    There’s been talk about how women are flawed as politicians because they are overly influenced a few days each month by hormones. But can this even approach the damage done by the constant influence testosterone has over male politicians? We’ve seen competent political minds taken over time and again by the aggressive emotions mandated by male hormones. Why else does Robert Mugabe, owner of a strong intellect, nevertheless stubbornly hold onto power if not heeding the same hormonal commands that make a rooster strut? And did my own president invade Iraq for logical reasons, or because of a desire to win a “peeing contest” with Saddam Hussein? Why don’t we look at rash actions by male politicians that are rooted in a hormone-derived sense of threatened manhood the same way we judge the actions of female politicians?

    Matthew, Oregon

  63. 63 savane
    April 18, 2008 at 18:47

    Hi. Ros, next week we must have a session on bald, short politicians, and any other ‘difference’ we identify.

    There are enough examples of female politicians from every continent that have made positive and negative impacts.

    What fascinates me is the male reaction to females in power.

    A Kenyan female MP described the male-dominated Parliament as ‘a bunch of boys in a male-only boarding school, during a social evening that’s attended by girls – lots of giggling, posturing’! I gave the male MPs the benefit of the doubt until I went to Parliament to lobby for and then listen to the debates on the Sexual Offences Bill.

    I was told not to wear trousers or a skirt above my knees if I wanted to be taken seriously. I am now the proud owner of a skirt that is one inch above my ankle!

    My friend was right about her boys’ school comment. Maybe it was because there were so many women in the public gallery, but I had flashbacks to the high-school social evenings I’d been to (minus Sister Pauline patrolling the dance floor to make sure that we danced at least 2 inches apart!). I was a juicy slab of Kobe beef!

    Sadly, Derrick’s comments were a reflection of the attitude and comments of many male MPs present. Do you know how annoying it is to lobby a sexual offences bill to a male MP who can’t seem to raise his eyes above your chest?

    We have one female MP, Martha Karua, who puts fear into her counterparts. When she speaks, the chambers are silent, no-one moves, and it doesn’t look as if many of her male counterparts feel it’s safe to breathe! Martha Karua is not liked by many people – she’s an intelligent, well spoken and she commands respect. Unfortunately, she’s seen as being ‘too hard’, in and out of the political scene. It’s pathetic to hear her called ‘a female dog’ (by both men and women), how she should smile more if she wants support, and how she should add more colour to her wardrobe, smile more, and loosen the curls in her hair to give her a ‘softer look’! When the Cabinet was sworn in yesterday, her pink suit was given way too much airtime! I’ve never heard a Kenyan male MP dissected to that extent! And many could benefit from an ‘Extreme Makeover’!

    When ‘Condi’ came to Kenya to deliver a message from GWB to Kibaki and Odinga, she caused a furore of testosterone! She was seen as a softer version of Martha Karua, and most men I spoke to would have given up a key body organ to be in her presence! She’s ‘good-looking power’! There’s a classic photo of Condi walking down a hallway in State House with a senior politician who has a huge grin on his face, and his eyes are focused on her derriere! It’s a moment that will go down in Kenyan history as the only time a Kenyan man voluntarily walked behind a woman!

    To be fair, Condi looks very different from her first 5 GWB years – her hair moves!

    It shouldn’t matter what women in power look like – but we’ll always be defined that way by the men – and women – they interact with.

    Nairobi Kenya

  64. 64 jonny paris
    April 18, 2008 at 18:48

    berlusconi had hair transplants and plastic surgery.

  65. 65 Lisa via text
    April 18, 2008 at 18:48

    Yes women play a great role in politics in my country. Our woman president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo she’s more tougher,wiser,clever & brillant than man. I prefer women politcians coz understands better than man to use not only the mind but also the heart especially in decision-making .

    Lisa, Kuwait.

  66. 66 Faris via text
    April 18, 2008 at 18:50

    In sri lanka we had the worlds first woman prime minister.

    Faris, Sri lanka

  67. 67 Scott Millar
    April 18, 2008 at 18:50

    @ Steve.

    This is nothing to do with the top. Nor do you know there aren’t some women who wish to be coal miners. You are collectively suggesting some pretty terrible things about the inherent nature of women which are simply not true. Any group who has been oppressed or in a minority position when it speaks collectively about wanting to achieve equality speaks altruistically and looks at jobs that people hold to be valuable and important, its obvious, though not to you. Few talk about wanting to be coal miners so why should women speaking of equality be held to your “different standards” on mode of discourse?

    I’m not as familiar with Paris Hilton as you are, nor does she have anything to do with what you propose. What an embarrassing anecdote to justify your lopsided subjective views!

    Are you also suggesting “stay at home moms” are and have been the cause of female oppression and are the cause of the statistical lack of women in important positions? Of course this might have some factor but the statistics are disproportionate and out of whack to support what you are saying.

    -Portland, Oregon

  68. 68 Joseph via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:51

    The question of differences between the competencies of men and women is outdated and no longer an issue. You might as well be asking about how being a redhead, wearing glasses, or being unattractive affects one’s political competence and contribution. This topic is absurd for this day and age.

    Joseph, Ohio

  69. 69 Hannah via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:52

    I have considered going into politics

    Here are a few reasons why i don’t

    – i want a career which allows me the freedom to do really well and make a difference but i also want a family and to have children
    – the length of debates in the House of Commons would make child care problems difficult
    – the hours needed to commute between constituency and london would not necessarily be supportative to spending time with your kids.
    -There is not a nursey in the House of Commons.

    There are some problems which men cannot represent since there is no biological way they can understand it.
    – but bless them it doesn’t stop them trying.

    Hannah, UK

  70. 70 Alberto
    April 18, 2008 at 18:53

    Hello, I am a Spanish student. I am listening to the radio right now and I have heard about the Spanish Ministry of Defence right now.

    It is true that there are people in Spain who do not agree with her as a Minister. But most of them are right-handed people, old people.

    In Spain, luckily, the situation is changing very fast and now, most of the citizens see as normal having a woman as a Defence Minister. And of course, she is pregnant, but there is not problem for us, the citizens, if she goes on maternity leave. It is a a new right for all citizens (whether men or women) to go on maternity leave.

    I just wanted to give another point of view. Spain is evolving!

  71. 71 Steve via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:53

    Linda says she expected more women to be in congress. There should be no set goals when it comes to gender/race/religion and our elected officials. The people should be able to vote for whom they want, and not have to be told “We need 51%” women in Congress. That’s incredibly undemocratic to even suggest people have to vote for someone just becaues of their gender, race, etc, and some kind of quota. If the people wanted congress to be 100% male, that’s democracy. If the people wanted congress to be 100% female, that’s democracy, but there should be no “SHOULDs” in congress.

    Steve, USA

  72. 72 gary
    April 18, 2008 at 18:53

    I’m married to a remarkably beautiful and capable 63 year old woman. Why isn’t an older woman a beautiful woman? I won’t care if Hillary gets older in office! She must do so! I would only consider and measure her performance.

  73. 73 Steve via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:54

    Why is your guest so upset about Chris Matthews and his comments on how women look? Have you ever seen a women’s magazine? They are DEVOTED to superficiality. It’s unbelievable what is in them, and they are just full of advertisements for shallow things such as makeup. Let’s not single out Chris Matthews for being shallow when women themselves, with their women’s magazines are incredibly shallow.

    As for the aging comment? Mccain is made fun of relentlessly for his age. He gets made fun of on Leno and Letterman. The latest joke was that Mccain had asked Condi Rice to be his VP. She declines saying that she’s not qualified because she’s not a registered Nurse. I’ve never heard anything about Clinton’s age, but Mccain is constantly dismissed for his age. Congressman Murtha came out a couple days ago and said that mccain is too old to be president.

    Steve, USA

  74. 74 Michelle via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:54

    Give me a break! Hillary Clinton has been the media’s darling through the campaign – to the detriment of other candidates. Stop playing the victim for her.

    Michelle – San Francisco

  75. 75 Rico
    April 18, 2008 at 18:55

    I think Hillary scares American men because she represents that final move from the home to independence, with her as president there is no longer an obstacle to gender as leadership

  76. 76 Cathy via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:55

    Hillary Clinton will never be treated as a male is in the United States. All you hear is about how hot McCain’s wife is, a Republican’s dream trophy wife and that is the problem in the United States, the double standard will never leave to allow women to take the plunge and enter the political race.

    Cathy, USA

  77. 77 Michael via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:56

    The comment about Hillary ageing was one comment from one deranged commentator. Let’s not build a case against men on that kind of idiocy.

    Michael, San Francisco

  78. 78 Charles via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:57

    As a man in gerneral I do not trust men and I vote for females whenever I can.
    Thank you.


  79. 79 Rob via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:58

    It’s an interesting thing which has happened with Hillary Clinton.
    After the infidelity of her husband, she has been seen as very coarse and cold. She has taken the greater beating of character by staying with Bill, with many comedians implying that her very nature is what drove Bill to take up with another woman. I feel that this stigma is still attached to Hillary, and it affects how many view her now and into the future. A sorry commentary on the acceptance of male infidelity in the US, and a potentially unfair characterization of a woman who may be quite suitable for the political arena.


  80. 80 Chery via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 18:59

    The easiest example of unfair/old fashioned treatment of Hillary in the media is this: in the early days of the campaign, the media would would refer to “Senator Obama” and “MRS. CLINTON”. they have become more “even” in that regard, but that is just ONE of the COUNTLESS “subtle” differences in treatment of a woman vs a man by the media.

    Chery, Oregon

  81. 81 Rachel via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 19:00

    I’m a university student in the US, and in regards to the discussion of young women not being as interested in being in politics, I think that there is definitely more interest for women in colleges to pursue the aspirations of being in politics, with leaders like Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi being as strong as they are. But I do think that it will take time, and that it will take, perhaps, a new generation of people to bring more women into politics here in the US.

    Rachel, Kansas

  82. 82 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 19:00

    @ Rico

    No, Hillary is not a nasty person and a liar. Enough with that America is sexist if they don’t vote for Hillary. It’s insulting. I know countless women that cannot stand her. My mom is an extreme bleeding heart liberal that hate Hillary Clinton because she voted for the Iraq war. So stop with baseless claims of sexism please if people don’t vote the way you want them to. So if I do vote for Hillary, and I then racist because I didn’t vote for Obama? Or am I agist if I don’t vote for Mccain? Come on people, stop. You don’t always get your way, she’s not getting the nomination, not because she’s a woman, but rather because she’s a nasty person.

  83. 83 Justin via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 19:01

    I don’t think the fact that she is a woman is really the one at issue in this election. I am not hearing ads from political groups attacking her based on her gender but on her stance on issues such as the war in Iraq and the economic situation in the U.S. Of course some people are going to take issue because she is a woman but the political attacks aren’t focusing on that fact. We’re not going to change mysoginistic attitudes by forcing people to think a certain way, they’re only going to change their thought processes after a personal experience leads them to do so.

    Furthermore, it is my opinion that we should never vote based on the gender or race of a candidate, that determines nothing about how they respond to the issues or how they will act in office and I think it is highly irresponsible.

    Justin, USA

  84. 84 Debbie via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 19:02

    I’ve been having this very conversation with my 20 something niece. She feels race and sex are no longer a factor in her generation, and has no interest in understanding how far women have come. Senator Clinton is definitely treated differently by the press. All things being equal, the fact that she is a woman tilts the balance for me and I will be voting for her if she is the Democratic Candidate come November. The caller was right in that the feminist movement is not over.

    Baby boomer Debbie, Washington

  85. 85 Margie via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 19:03

    The “niceness factor” is that women are expected to be nice, and so when they “play hardball” when trying to win a campaign, it backfires against them in a way that it doesn’t against a male candidate.

    Margie, Oregon

  86. 86 Michael via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 19:04

    I think Hillary felt she had to support the Iraq war so as not to be seen as weak, especially as a woman. I think she was wrong in that assessment and that she would have appeared even stronger if she opposed the majority opinion of the time.

    Michael, San Francisco

  87. 87 Gloria
    April 18, 2008 at 19:04


    The previous few callers are absolutely right on with their comments. (Interesting to note that they were women.) As societies, we want to politely say, “No, women are not treated differently”, but that’s just the politically correct thing to say and not the reality of what happens.

    As regards aging as a woman in political office (or in general!), this regularly the subject of supposedly ‘funny’ comments, just think of comments about Margaret Thatcher, or Barbara Bush. Overall, women in power are feared, especially if they are mature women, who are comfortable with who they are and are not interested in manipulating men with their physical beauty or sexuality. It may sound absurd, but it really is a subject people, men as well as women, but especially men, should use as a catalyst for personal introspection.

    Gloria, Bend, Oregon

  88. 88 Gloria via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 19:04

    The previous few callers are absolutely right on with their comments.

    As societies, we want to politely say, “No, women are not treated differently”, but that’s just the politically correct thing to say. As regards aging as a woman in political office (or in general!), this regularly the subject of supposedly ‘funny’ comments, just think of comments about Margaret Thatcher, or Barbara Bush. Overall, women in power are feared, especially if they are mature women, who are comfortable with who they are and are not interested in manipulating men with their physical beauty or sexuality.

    It may sound absurd, but it really is a subject people, men as well as women, but especially men should use as a catalyst for introspection.


  89. 89 Kevin via textl
    April 18, 2008 at 19:06

    I agree with your US caller, hillary has been told by people in public that she should iron their shirts! Where was the anger by the masses?

    Kevin, Trinidad

  90. 90 Mary
    April 18, 2008 at 19:06

    Mark –

    I’m glad you’ve chosen this topic. It’s been my general observation that women in politics tend to reflect a given society at large. For example, I believe it is no mere coincidence that the UK, Israel, India and many other countries have managed to find a national leader representative of approximately 50% of their population and the US has not. As an American, it’s apparent to me we continue to behave provincially despite ‘talk’ to the contrary.

    An interesting note: I live in a semi-rural and conservative county (Geauga – pronounced “Gee-Aw-Gah”) in Ohio. The local Republican party has both a ‘party leader’ and a ‘female party lead’. If this isn’t an apparent segregation and definition of gender roles, I don’t know what is.

  91. 91 Marilyn via text
    April 18, 2008 at 19:09

    Thank you for bringing this up. The USA has sucha low percentage of female politicians- even pakistan has/had more!

    As fop the current presidential race- here’s why my bet is on the black male. After the USA civil war, black males were ‘given’ the right to vote, but not women. Fredrick Douglass felt it was ‘the black man’s turn’; the supportive abolitionist suffragettes reluctantly agreed, and were doomed to battle on for THEIR vote- without the support of the newly enfranchised black male. Susan B Anthony, a collaborator of Douglass, died 60 years later, never seeing legislation for women’s vote.

    Plus, as hillary said- just tell them that I’m really nice, because for a lot of americans, all women need to be nice, or be called naughty, or worse.

    Marilyn, Oregon

  92. 92 Mansour via text
    April 18, 2008 at 19:10

    Women belong to the kitchen rather than political office.

    Mansour, Monrovia.

  93. 93 Ros Atkins
    April 18, 2008 at 19:13

    As a woman, I am terribly disappointed that women are not seriously considered as politicians. Women and men are interdependent. Each gender brings different strength. They should work together to compliment each other and act as a check and balance system.

    Jamila Abdulkader-Thomas
    Expat living in Kuwait

  94. 94 Ros Atkins
    April 18, 2008 at 19:13

    Women will be taken serious in politics once their fellow women take them to serious or perceive them to be good leaders. A good examples are the late Annan Lindh of Sweden and President Ellen Johnsin Sirleaf of Liberia.

    Note women vote more than men.

    Jared Ombui
    Makerere University

  95. 95 Ros Atkins
    April 18, 2008 at 19:14

    This is the first time I have ever particiapated in a radio program, I hope I have sent this correctly.

    My comments regard treatment women and men politicians. What I have observed is the all the pictures in the papers show Hiliary Clinton in the most unflattering poses – mouth open, weird expressions on face, strange body positions while compaigning. The men are always shown in a professional pose and composed.

    I have come to the conclusion that all politicians are not to be trusted, men or women. While I vote in all elections, I do not feel that I have much of a choice.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment.

    Grace Kittoe
    Alliance, Ohio

  96. 96 Jane via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 19:15

    Hillary flaunts her gender one day as a plus “as a mother…[blah blah blah]” then whines “i always get asked to answer a question first” implicit is ‘poor me’. she doesn’t come across as comfortable in her skin – which age is being quite kind to btw.

    As for the female candidate in Jamaica in their last general election, i was all for her, but she blew it as the appointed leader that gave important roles to underqualified cronies.

    Jane, Jamaica

  97. 97 Ros Atkins
    April 18, 2008 at 19:17

    Hi Precious Ros. 1st of all let me say GOOD LUCK to my two good friends Hannah and Will over the weekend Inshallah. As for tonight’s programme I say : True gender equality can never be achieved unless SOME men start to believe that women do actually have a BRAIN, not a PIECE OF CAKE inside their skulls. And also SOME woman are partly to blame for the overwhelming majority of women not taken seriously by SOME men. SOME women do unfortunately behave in a way that insults and undermines them as well as the whole fair sex. To those women I say : You’re beautiful human beings. Please stop behaving like only beautiful things that are sooooo empty from the inside. Do worry about what your cultural and moral content is gonna be like as much as you worry about what your bodies are gonna look like. As soon as you start to respect yourselves more and see yourselves as high and precious, then men will have no other choice but to respect you more and see you as high and precious. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  98. 98 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 19:23

    @ Grace Kittoe:

    “I have come to the conclusion that all politicians are not to be trusted, men or women. While I vote in all elections, I do not feel that I have much of a choice.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment.

    Grace Kittoe
    Alliance, Ohio”

    Grace, you are my new favorite poster. You’ve seen the light, you know the truth. Sorry Ros, but my views are increasingly common. The people we need to be in power don’t want to run for office.

  99. 99 Liz in Italy
    April 18, 2008 at 19:33

    I live in New Zealand and Italy and over the last 10 years have seen excellent leadership from our woman Prime Minister in NZ, Helen Clark.

    She entered politics when quite young and has presumably encountered all the problems that a male PM would experience and has dealt with them despite life, health and hormonal changes, the usual excuse for excluding women from responsible jobs.

    Recent research looked at the male testosterone being a major factor in decision making at the stock exchange, yet they continue to play with the wealth of nations and individuals.

    Silvio Berlusconi could learn a lot from Helen Clark. She has brought level headed diplomacy and peacemaking qualities to the local and international stage at the same time as managing a country that has low employment and is the envy of many.

    Berlusconi is Europe’s fool and his comments should not be taken seriously.

  100. 100 Michele via text
    April 18, 2008 at 19:41

    Unfortunately in Africa many men look down on women, mistreat and beat them up. Do you think they can accept women leading them?

    Michele, Nairobi

  101. 101 Ros Atkins
    April 18, 2008 at 19:52

    Now now Steve. I don’t mind your opinions nor am I trying to stop you saying them. I’m just trying to get you to cut down on the word ‘narcissistic’ and I think I’ve done a reasonable job.

  102. 102 Nick in USA
    April 18, 2008 at 19:53

    Jen Said:

    “incompetent men who are genetically predisposed toward violent acts”

    I hear this argument a lot, and I must take offense. It’s true that men were the people who carried out wars in the past, but I’m not sure a lack of female participation was due to their predisposition to be docile. In my experience women are every bit as violent as men, they just don’t have the genetics to back it up. For example, I’ve been hit by a lot of girlfriends (and wife), but I’ve never hit one back in my life. I’m not sure what that says about me, but that’s beside the point.

    Also, I agree with Steve’s comment about a lot of women blaming their own actions on PMS. I’m not saying women can’t control themselves, just that PMS takes the blame, and therefore makes the woman unaccountable. If women want equality, then this bogus blame shifting needs to be thrown out the window.

  103. 103 Prince via e-mail
    April 18, 2008 at 19:57

    The issue is about waht is best for families, chuildre, societies and al social systems and not what is good for women. Based on this truth I say:

    The divinely instituted place of women is in the famil homes – no matter how intelligent, enterprising, skilled a woman is – where they should manage family affairs by bringing children up morally and spiritually, acceptable to societies, moderating their husband’s economic, political, professional and international relations and relationship conducts, and by controlling the appetites of every member of their families for wealth and the consumption. World economy, politics, sociology, social dynamics, and international relations and relationships would produce the best results when this happens. women were not created to be slaves to capitalists or to careers. they were created to support men by taking charge of the home affairs. Hillary Clinton should go home because she is a woman, strengthens by the reason that she has demonstrated meaness and totalitarianism in her campaign

    Prince, Nigeria

  104. 104 Dagoretti via text
    April 18, 2008 at 20:00

    I think pretty women are not taken seriously in politics. They have to look battle hardened to be considered competent.

    Dagoretti, Kenya

  105. 105 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 20:03

    Ros, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…. There’s really no other word to use, because it is the right word. I could try to use a synonym though.

    narcissistic (adj)

    Synonyms: vain, self-absorbed, egotistic, egotistical, selfish, conceited, self-important, self-loving, self-admiring

    Antonym: selfless

    Take your pick!


    (Narcissistic people like to be in control. You often find them at influential positions, for example in business or in politics. Sometimes this narcissistic character can be very useful. They can fire hundreds of employees without feeling guilty about it.)



  106. April 18, 2008 at 20:52

    When women are blazing success in many fields, what on earth should keep them away from politics. India had a strong woman PM Indira Gandhi.

  107. 107 Alan in Arizona
    April 18, 2008 at 23:38


    (@ Alan

    let them rule the world so we can have Peace at last!

    Alan, Arizona

    Um, you do realize that Thatcher went to war with Argentina, right? Golda Meir with the arab nations. You knew this, right?

    A lot of good Eva Braun did moderating the behavior of Adolf Hitler, eh?


    Your funny Steve.

    First,, Hilary is a Liar, oops sorry I meant Lawyer, oh ya! Same thing! Ha! Ha!

    Argentina Started it and Margret just protected her people!
    Golda did about the same , protecting her people, just like most mothers do for their kids and others. Mine did, did yours! I hope so. But most are to smart to get into politics!
    As for Eva Braun, she wasn’t there to control him, she was a user!

    Think of the precentages of men that have started wars compared to women!

  108. April 19, 2008 at 03:42

    Hi WHYS. Please accept my apologies about today. I was out in the country and missed the discussions altogether as well as the invite. Apologies, again. Perhaps next time?

    That said, I am delighted to see that the discussion was had and that some people are seriously addressing some of the issues surrounding the gendered definitions of power in terms of “electability” and competence of the people who run for public office.

    I am especially pleased as well as to see where the focus on female leadership is considered in the context of good leadership. By which I mean, an effort is made to identify women not as a special group in need of special support, notwithstanding their comparably dwarfed presence in public leadership roles across the globe, in relation to men. Rather, the question seems to be, from what I read in some of the entries, what constitutes a good leader? And, given whatever that answer is decided to be, do women make for good leaders? The answer of course is a resounding yes!

    For what it is worth, however, I should highlight my position in terms of the ongoing American elections, especially as its impacts are likely to be felt across the globe by many nations. I am a supporter of Senator Obama’s politics of change, which I feel is a keenly important message in the world, at this time, and especially coming from the United States for the reasons noted above. This, I think is needed to help alter what now appears to be serious isolationist approach on America’s part. Change of the kind to which Obama speaks is crucial in harbouring a greater sense of goodwill towards American foreign policies, I think, especially in places like the Middle East, where ongoing hostilities are largely seen as the direct results of American interference/ involvements, whether through war, or the support of states like Israel in its conflicts with the Palestinians over the Gaza strip, etc.

    Conversely, Senator Clinton’s main arguement about her “electability” is very much similar to that of the traditional Republican political machinery. This worries me to the extent that I am not sure if there is a serious distinction between what she says and orthodoxed impressions of who and what constitutes good leaders in the West – powerful, (white) men, of largely elite backgrounds and standing in society. Notwithstanding the need for experience and judgement, in other words, as now seems her latest approach in the case of the latter issue, I wonder whether Senator Clinton’s “Republican-like” strategies do not border on a sort of exclusionary type of idea about elitism, about which she also accuses Senator Obama? Does this also potentially subvert a likely feminist agenda?

    Senator Clinton’s “electability”, in other words, is premised on the fact that she has had years of experience, some of which included being the First Lady. Indeed, she is also rich, white and powerful. Whereas, Obama is neither white nor female, his likability factor, I think, resonates more in terms of his credible humanity. Think for instance of his efforts to address the “bitterness row”, recently, where he adheres to the spirit of his comments, even while admitting that he may have said what he intended to very badly. This is especially notable given how his comments might be construed to alienate the very voters he is trying to woo, five days leading to the Pennsylvania Primaries.

    It seems to me, therefore, that if Senator Obama’s “unelectability” is structured around the fact that he is black and, therefore, cannot be trusted then there is as much a problem with this as saying that women cannot lead because they have vaginas, female reproductive organs or that they wear dresses, even. When did the criteria for public office become about these thing and not the demonstrated competence, sound, credible policies and meaningful intent as outlined by the vision of the applicant/ candidate in question?

    Further too, how much of Senator Clinton’s political career or vision is aligned around a specific Feminist agenda, as asked earlier, beyond the obvious matter of attaining power as indicated by her candidacy? Senator Clinton is to also be assessed in that regard, I think, especially given as it seems that this is one of the guiding principles in her arguments about her own electability/ candidacy. Is she “electable” because she is a woman, a female politician, or a potentially good candidate? And too, are these mutual exclusives?

  109. 109 janet bratter
    April 19, 2008 at 20:09

    Several of the past few questions could be answered with single word responses.

    Are women taken seriously in politics?
    Does your skin color define you?
    Do blacks and Asians have to behave like whites to succeed?

    Easy answers:

    Women in politics and society in general are still seen as decorative objects in a man’s world. It’s too obvious to debate.

    Whether anyone likes it or not whites, in spite of being a numerical minority, have risen to the top of the milk bottle.

    When world leaders all decide to dress like white people (suits and ties vs Mao jackets and dashikis) you know who the alpha dog is. This historical truth has been the case for centuries. Maybe it’s something to do with what Decarte pointed out. Geography is destiny. Life in the temperate zone allows for easier accumulation of wealth and power.

    So does your skin color define you? Well, the more we mix it up the less it will, but for now there’s no easy way to get around it. Regardless of his chocolate and vanilla heritage, even someone like Obama is hemmed in by the racial issue.

  110. 110 jeg
    April 19, 2008 at 20:11

    I keep seeing this quote, “I’m not going to have some reporters pawing through
    our papers. We are the president.”
    — Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents.

    If this is a true and accurate quote, it would imply that she has already served eight years as president.

  111. 111 Alberto Aberasturi
    April 19, 2008 at 21:03

    I think that trying to keep compulsorily the same number of men and women in Government is ridiculous and has nothing to do with real equality. The Government should be ruled by the best candidates, no matter whether they are all women or men. That’s equality.

    Alberto Aberasturi, Spain.

  112. 112 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 20, 2008 at 02:37

    Dang, I can’t believe I missed this one. Ah, well… such is life 🙂 Very interesting debate!

    Laura in Minneapolis

  113. April 20, 2008 at 20:20

    On the front end of our Worlds’ Media dis-information system (television, radio & internet) this election is being spun in a style that MOSTLY “enables” the viewers to see women as equals.

    The sad truth of the matter is that behind the scenes, in corporate, military AND goverment leadership rings this world has been, still is, and will be be feverishly controlled eternally by “the Good Ole Boys”. This election is being viewed by such leadership, who when behind closed doors still cracks cassicly outdated chuvenist jokes to each other, while at the same time having FULL control of ALL strings that lead to ALL involved party puppet strings. And they laugh. And they chuckle. And they crack their jokes and manipulate the entire system not by their personal, confident and equality rich beliefs, but rather they control it through illusive and magically false motives which are clearly driven by their FEAR, In-SECURITIES and ablity to CHEAT the system.

    I dont hope this, I dont pray this, I dont wish this, AND I CERTAINLY DO NOT TR AND CONVINCE MYSELF TO BELIEVE THIS, BUT, I KNOW THIS.

    And when one KNOWS, it shall come to be.

    Tragically, Hillary would have won this presidency through fair, true and accurate vote tabulations. The GOOD OLE BOYS WILL NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN.

  114. April 21, 2008 at 15:58

    In the same breath that you ask “should polygamy be made legal” you ask “are women taken seriously in politics?”

    You bet women are taken seriously–but not the same women. In order for a woman to be taken seriously in politics, she needs to demonstrate that she makes decisions without a frog on her sleeve. No woman with a clear sense of self-worth would forgive and forget Bill’s public humiliation of both Hillary and Chelsey. A strong woman should be wiling to forgive and forget, but not at the expense of her own respect. Hillary’s acceptance of that lot makes her a weak candidate for president, a better candidate as a strong polgamist’s wife, and a poor example to hold up to this question.

    When I think of Michele Obama, I can seriously say, Yes. Women can be taken seriously in politics. Are they? What about Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Judy Woodward, Gwen Ifill (sic)… I’m sure some people wish they weren’t taken seriously.

  115. 115 Dennis
    May 11, 2008 at 16:50

    @ Bonnie

    >Barbara Boxer & Patty Murray are
    both politicans

    >Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill are

    To answer the question: NO, WOMEN

    Dennis from Madrid, United States of America

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