The First Female Speaker: An Embarrassment to Women’s Rights Leaders
Nancy Pelosi's take on gender issues represents a few steps backward for the West.
June 30, 2010 - 12:00 am
One of these things is not like the other: Joan of Arc, Margaret Thatcher, Susan B. Anthony, Nancy Pelosi.
The first three women represent a class of women who fought to break traditional gender stereotypes, helping advance the cause of women’s equality. They are a small few of the countless warriors in the battle we’ve been fighting since the beginning of time. And, thanks to women like these, we’ve moved ahead by leaps and bounds.
When men go looking for their mates, they no longer club us over the head and drag us by our hair to their caves. We can vote. It’s illegal to pay us lower wages because of our gender. We are no longer expected to stay home with the kids if we want to work. We can ask our husbands to help us with housework. Women’s stockings are seeing a significant decline in sales.
But just when you think all the work has paid off and our goals have come to fruition … we get Nancy Pelosi.
Many were overjoyed at her unprecedented accomplishment of being the first female speaker of the House. But we’ve since discovered that even more unprecedented is her ability to use that position to undo a century of women’s progress. It’s been blunder after blunder, embarrassment after embarrassment. With countless moments, speeches, and legislation to choose from, I’m counting down the reasons why Nancy Pelosi is an embarrassment to women:
Embarrassment #8: Botox
I have no beef with Botox, as long as you pay for yours and I pay for mine. And although Pelosi’s Joan Rivers’ look does not set a good example for our daughters, I understand that vanity tends to accompany power. But how stereotypical is it that when we elect the first female speaker of the House, she helps pass a bill to cover all of Congress’ cosmetic surgery on the taxpayers’ dime?
You’d think that by adding this coverage, Congress would be a better-looking bunch, but no.
Embarrassment #7: Condescension towards women
Pelosi declared that the health care legislation was “personal for women.” Indeed it was — but as an outright attack on married women. Choosing to tie the knot could cost a woman up to $10,000 more annually than if she just keeps a live-in boyfriend. Didn’t she promise this bill would help families struggling to pay medical bills?
About 55% of tea partiers are women, but they are still targets for Pelosi’s name-calling. To Pelosi, women who stand up for freedom are right-wing extremists, likened to Nazis. Way to defend our boldest female voices.
Embarrassment #6: Her negative effect on our children’s future
When first elected speaker, she emphasized — with her most melodramatic movie heroine impression — that it was “for the children.” Practically every bill she supports she defends as “for the children.” Exactly what has she done for our children other than load them up with massive debts? And how many children has she allowed to be killed by voting against a ban on partial-birth abortion?
Embarrassment #5: Saying stupid things
According to Nancy Pelosi, if we hadn’t passed the stimulus bill “500 million Americans would lose their jobs.” It is no surprise we are in a recession when our House speaker believes that birth control and STD prevention stimulate the economy. Illegal immigrants are patriotic, tea partiers are Astroturf, and we needed to pass health care so that artists can quit their jobs and the rest of us can work harder to pay for their health care. Huh?
In an interview with Diane Sawyer, Pelosi referred to her mother as “Mommy.”
In the same interview, when asked what her father used to say to her that meant the most, her answer was: “Make sure you have the votes.” Not “I love you.” I can just see him tucking little Nancy in at night, kissing her on the forehead, and saying: “Make sure you have the votes.”
Embarrassment #4: Saying stupid things in a stupid way
Not everyone is perfectly poised and articulate — that’s why I write. But when your title is “speaker”? Pelosi’s problem is not just what she says, but how she says it. She’s the Paula Abdul of Congress.
At the Catholic Community Conference in early May, Pelosi aimlessly babbled about her favorite word — which apparently is “word”:
There’s nothing quite like an anti-family, pro-abortion advocate preaching a nonsensical interpretation of the Bible to a group of devout Catholics. No Saturday Night Live could better Pelosi’s own unintentionally satirical performance.
Embarrassment #3: Lack of ethics
According to Pelosi, it may “take a woman to clean up the House.” Aside from implicating an antiquated stereotype, Pelosi’s statement was only directed at Republicans.
Amidst Democrat Charlie Rangel’s tax evasion scandal, Pelosi stood by him. She said he didn’t “knowingly violate the rules” when he forgot about half of his net worth. Similarly, she sat on the information for months when her office was notified of Democrat Eric Massa’s alleged sexual deviance with his aides.
Now we hear that the White House may have used illegal election tactics by offering a job to Democrat Joe Sestak in exchange for dropping out of the Pennsylvania Senate race. But Pelosi did not call for an investigation. Shortly thereafter, Democrat Andrew Romanoff came forward claiming he received a similar offer. Instead of looking into these accusations, Pelosi blocked any investigations.
Yet Pelosi insists that she is running the most ethical Congress ever.
Embarrassment #2: Veiling herself
In 2007, Kuwait’s only female member of parliament took her oath of office without wearing a veil covering her face or hair. This act sent an unprecedented message to the Islamic world about the future of Muslim women’s rights. The next day, Pelosi showed up in Damascus, in defiance of President Bush, debasing this woman’s courage by choosing to wear a veil.
Pelosi could have been a living representation of the hope and freedom found in this country. She could have used the opportunity to stand up for women’s rights globally, instead of turning things back.
Embarrassment #1: Bad legislation
If she tried to pass good legislation, she wouldn’t have to bribe our representatives in Congress to get their votes.
The stimulus bill, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, cap and trade, a massive budget, taking over the student loan industry, the “pay-as-you-go” ruse, destroying small business through taxes and regulations, increasing taxes on savings and investments, and saying that the VAT (value added tax) “is on the table” …
The worst was the huge role played by Nancy Pelosi in the passage of the health care legislation. The first female speaker will go down in history as defying her oath to the Constitution and arrogantly ignoring the will of the American people. She’ll be infamous for passing an unprecedented infringement on the rights of Americans in a bill that the majority of Americans now want repealed. Not exactly what I’d like my daughter to see in her textbooks as the archetype of women’s leadership.
And I was embarrassed to be female watching her waltz to the legislation signing giggling, with a goofy oversized gavel in hand. I don’t think we ever saw Newt Gingrich toting around some enlarged prop, snickering like a schoolkid.
Although Pelosi’s shrill, shrieking giggles could have broken all the windows in Washington, it takes genuine, beneficial accomplishment to crack the proverbial glass ceiling. Now, our hope is in the new female GOP candidates who dominated the last elections. The next woman elected to a position like House speaker won’t have big shoes to fill, she’ll have big embarrassments to fix.