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Friday, January 4, 2013

In the Entire History of the U.S. Senate, Only 44 Women Have Ever Been Sworn In

Posted by on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Meanwhile, yesterday's ceremonies bring the number of women presently serving in the U.S. Senate to 20.

That's progress. And a record high. But, we're still talking about only 20 women in a legislative body that's been around for well over 200 years and has a total of 100 members.


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Even lower for African Americans.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on January 4, 2013 at 6:36 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 2
Yes, and currently 3 of the only 4 total women Justices ever serve on the SCOTUS. As far as anyone knows, there haven't been any GLBT Justices, nor any atheists, Asians, or Native Americans. No Buddhists, Hindus or Pacific Islanders.

Nor in the Presidency. Depressingly few have served in the COTUS much less the SOTUS.

In WA, we've had a total of two female governors. We've been a state since 1889, and we've only had two. We've never had a Black governor, an openly GLBT governor. We've never had a Hispanic governor or an atheist, Hindu, Buddhist or Daoist governor.

The ruling class has never been truly reflective of those they rule in this country. We're the same country that lauded egalitarianism in the same Constitution that allowed for slavery.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on January 4, 2013 at 6:41 AM · Report this
venomlash 4
@2: And the first Muslim congressman got asked on CNN to prove he wasn't a terrorist.
Posted by venomlash on January 4, 2013 at 6:51 AM · Report this
#2 - for much of American history, many of the groups you mentioned were virtually nonexistent in this country. The reason no Hindus were elected to office in the 1880's is because there were probably only a handful of Hindus on the continent.

It amazes me how many people seem to think the United States was always a multicultural polyglot nation. Yes, there were blacks and scattered remnants of Indians, and I'm sure the left coast had some Chinese workers, but up until the 1960s this country was overwhelmingly white, christian, and english-speaking. Deal with it.
Posted by catsnbanjos on January 4, 2013 at 6:57 AM · Report this
delirian 6
It is sort of sad that when we invade countries and force a new constitution on them, it always has a requirement for women's representation in government. Iraq and Afghanistan both must have at least 25% of their parliament be composed of women. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could make it to 25%?
Posted by delirian on January 4, 2013 at 6:59 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 7

So are you saying there weren't any women in the United States prior to 1960?
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on January 4, 2013 at 7:19 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 8
It's a great irony of history in this country that every election that has Republicans viciously attacking their rights, women's numbers in congress increase. So, keep it up, Republicans. Soon we'll have fair representation.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 4, 2013 at 7:26 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 9
This is rather fascinating news. I wonder, fif our Founding Fathers (and apparently, they were all Fathers) reproduce asexually? Perhaps they budded off from one another like amoebas.

Also, it appears that Martha Washington was a drag queen. I had always suspected this, since she was never very convincing.

Oh, and do you mean to imply that there were no Hispanics, even though more than half of what is now the US was a colony of Spain? No, they all spoke English.... because that's what they do.... in Spain.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on January 4, 2013 at 7:27 AM · Report this
passionate_jus 10
@2 How do you know there has never been an atheist governor of Washington?

A lot of politicians who were known to be atheist (or thought to be atheist) still talked of faith. Many historically famous Americans have been claimed by both the atheists and theists. Thomas Jefferson is one of the best examples of this.

Also, California had an atheist governor during the Great Depression. He had also been a State Senator in, of all places, Utah.…
Posted by passionate_jus on January 4, 2013 at 7:39 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 11
We need more women in politics, plain and simple.

This will do more to change the sexist power dynamic in this society more than a million awareness raising exercises. Because when you look who is in power, and it is all male, well, that makes a big statement.

Although I can understand the resistance to such a horrid, sleazy enterprise. Hell, even Emma Goldman was against women's suffrage because she knew politics was just a corrupting mess. Not that I think she was in the right.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on January 4, 2013 at 7:41 AM · Report this
passionate_jus 13

What are you talking about? Most Americans spoke English? Most Americans were white and Christian?

Actually there were huge sections of the United States where French was the main language spoken (Louisiana, parts of New England), and places where Spanish was the main language (FL, CA, NM, AZ, TX). Plus there have always been huge sections of every major US city where various non English language has been spoken (Chinese in NY and SF, Polish in Chicago, Italian in NY, Japanese in Seattle, etc etc).

Not to mention the territories (later states) of HI and AK. Plus there have been numerous Native American languages throughout our nations history (they were not scattered as you proclaim; often they were the majority; they just couldn't vote). Not to mention African languages (at the outbreak of the Civil War some southern states had more slaves than they did white people).

There were plenty of non believers also, if you look at the amount of people who never stepped foot in churches. Our country has been mostly a secular nation, with the exceptions being the Great Awakenings and the rise of religious fundamentalism in the late 1970s.

Deal with it.
Posted by passionate_jus on January 4, 2013 at 8:07 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 14
@ 2, there's only been one Catholic president, and none have been Jewish.

Frankly, I see a half full glass, not the half empty one you're perceiving. Progress is very, very slow. The fact is, the system used to say that only WASP males would get to be leaders of any kind in this county. That system was fully in place through the 1950s, and of course we were led by people who came of age under that system as recently as the George H. W. Bush's presidency.

A big part of progress is the dying off of the old people who simply accepted the old prejudices as the way things were, if they weren't the ones actively making things that way and profiting from the situation. We now live is a society where a person of either gender, of any ethnic or religious background*, and any sexual orientation* can become an elected official. Yes, it's still largely a white man's domain, but nobody believes that that's how it's going to be anymore.

* Obviously, there's still a good deal of work to do. Muslims are still widely disparaged, and it will be a while before atheists or transgendered people are going to be well regarded as candidates for office.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 4, 2013 at 8:12 AM · Report this
#7 - if you go back and VERY CAREFULLY re-read my original post, you'll notice that I specifically said "many of the groups you mentioned". Not "all of the groups you mentioned". Do you want me to explain the difference between "many" and "all"? I will, if you need me to.

Obviously there were women here. No argument. And while I don't mean to imply there were no hispanics, I do mean to imply that there were a lot fewer than there are nowadays. Do you honestly think that just because the Spanish empire included vast swaths of North American land, those lands were automatically populated by Spanish-speakers? The spanish empire at one point included part of what is now British Columbia; you think they were speaking spanish there? I suppose since Great Britain "owned" India, that means all the Indians were speaking English, right? Let's also not forget that much of the southwest is desert. Even today the amount of the American population that speaks spanish is about 12% - and you think it was higher in the past? Good grief.

The census has asked questions - admittedly imperfect ones - about race and ethnicity since 1790. At no point has the white population been below 80%. In the first year in which there was a category for "hispanic", 1970, the figure was 4.7 percent.

But hey, if you want to believe that the founding fathers were eating chimichangas while they hobnobbed with Buddhists and Sikhs, you go right ahead.

Posted by catsnbanjos on January 4, 2013 at 8:14 AM · Report this
#13 - Jesus, you're more dense than the other one. YES, I'm saying that most Americans were and are English-speaking whites!!! How the hell is this even a subject for debate? Most Americans ARE English-speaking whites! And at least nominally christian. What country do you live in?

But wait - you're saying there are spanish-speakers in Florida? And francophones in New Orleans? Why, I had no idea! This changes everything! Thanks so much for that valuable information. I'll work on dealing with it.
Posted by catsnbanjos on January 4, 2013 at 8:22 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 17
gender imbalance in the senate is deck chairs on the titanic. far more dangerous is the power it puts in the hands of states without populations.
Posted by Max Solomon on January 4, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
catsnbanjos: Read "A Different Mirror" by Ronald Takaki. This was and always has been a multicultural polyglot nation. The illusion of white control has been maintained by wealth manipulation and racist immigration, land owning, and voting laws. Furthermore, many white immigrants were able to assimilate (because of skin color) within a generation or two in ways not available to darker-skinned immigrants.
Posted by LMcGuff on January 4, 2013 at 9:32 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 20
@ 17, dangerous? It's the very PURPOSE of the Senate.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 4, 2013 at 10:12 AM · Report this
Fnarf 21
Even worse, almost all of the women who served in the Senate before Barbara Mikulski broke the dam in 1986 were widows appointed to serve out their deceased husband's term. Many of them served just a few days; the first woman senator, Rebecca Felton (D-GA), served exactly one day.

1992 (Patty Murray's class) is when female senators became more than a curiosity. Looked at that way, the increase in recent years is spectacular. Look at the graph at the bottom of this article:…

Now we just need to get some people of color in there (one African-American is a shabby state of affairs).

The demographic oddity that strikes me as most peculiar is that there are currently zero Protestants on the Supreme Court, in this extremely Protestant country. Not that there's anything wrong with Catholics or Jews, unless they are named "Scalia" or "Thomas".
Posted by Fnarf on January 4, 2013 at 11:34 AM · Report this
#18 - read the U.S. Census results since 1790, then tell me where all the missing non-whites went. I know all about the assimilation of white immigrants, and the fact that they weren't always seen as white, and that areas like New Orleans and the southwest have been more multicultural for a long time, and yada yada yada. This country has always been mostly white and English speaking. There's just no argument, sorry.
Posted by catsnbanjos on January 4, 2013 at 12:16 PM · Report this
The west coast is pulling its weight on this one. 60% of Pacific-bordering-state senators are women.
Posted by moretent on January 4, 2013 at 5:33 PM · Report this

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