Tuesday marked a big win for women. The Senate has a record 20 women Senators and the House added four more women Representatives to a total of 77. My home state, the Show-Me state, showed Rep. Todd Akin a big middle finger and re-elected Senator Claire McCaskill. New Hampshire will become the first state to have women hold all the top elected positions. It was not just a Democrat-woman winning night. Republican women made gains too. Republican Deb Fischer was the first woman to be elected by Nebraskans to a full Senate term. There is no longer an all male legislature in any US state.
There was a lot at stake for women in this election: abortion rights, contraceptive access, the definition of rape, and equal pay for equal work were a few of the hot buttons. I realize that not all women hold the same views on these issues; there are anti-abortion and anti-contraception women. But the tactic abortion rights foes took this time around disturbed me to the core. Instead of just working to outlaw it or reduce access, foes attempted to drag victims into the fray through heinous attempts to redefine rape. The vitriol that came from pundits and legislators, from the Sandra Fluke affair to the asinine statement about rape and conception coming from the aforementioned Todd Akin, was beyond shocking. There was enormous disrespect for women’s healthcare and concerns. Really, is polycystic ovary syndrome a divisive issue? It’s certainly an equal opportunity disease that does not choose victims along party lines.
This election, women sent a strong message to our elected officials: ENOUGH. Enough with the attacks, enough with the disrespect, and enough with focusing on issues that should not be issues. This year was a big stride for women in politics, but there is much more room to grow. I hope that we will soon have enough parity so that our government can be proactive about issues like the economy, child-care, education, equal pay, and public health.