Where Are All the Progressive Women Candidates?

I just got back from doing a neighborhood canvas with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. We were knocking on doors for one of PPAA’s endorsed candidates, David Schapira. Schapira is running against a woman named Wendy Rogers. Rogers is rabidly anti-choice. She thinks abortion should be illegal in all instances, even in cases where the woman’s life is at stake. And she even opposes pay equity for women. I just have to ask myself: WTF?!?

I have been phone banking, blogging, and now door knocking for pro-choice candidates this election season, and all of those candidates have been men. Yes, there are pro-choice women running. But the vast majority of pro-choice candidates that have been in endorsed by PPAA are men.

Where are all the progressive women, and why aren’t they running for office?

Think of all the Tea Party women that are running for office, and think of the profile that they fit. For the most part, these women all look the same, and they’re willing to advocate policies that go against their own best interests. It kills my soul to campaign for a man. It really does. But I’m not going to let wingnuts in their traveling skirt suits get voted into office if it means they’re vehemently anti-choice.

What’s your take on the election? Why is the Tea Party having more success recruiting women to run for office than the Democratic Party is? And if you’re as tired of pounding the pavement for men running for office as I am, how are you keeping yourself from getting burnt out? I’d love to talk shop with you in the comments section.

About Serena:
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.


  1. I’m no social scientist, but doesn’t it feel like these anti-choice women are lacking empathy? (to put it mildly) Could it follow that such a condition makes them better-equipped to deal with the vicious psychological beatdown that happens during a campaign?

  2. Interesting point, Shannon. I believe that empathy is learned, and that men and women are equally capable of having empathy. I would hate to make the argument that women aren’t capable of handling the emotional and psychological effects of running for office. Lord knows that the media certainly made enough noise about Hillary tearing up when a woman asked her how she was doing on the campaign trail. However, I do agree that these wingnuts lack any sort of empathy.

  3. I would venture to guess that male politicians (presumably white hetro) have an easier time taking up controversial positions (like pro-choice) because they already have this socially perceived position of power and authority that they don’t have to battle for. Female candidates first have to fight for their position of authority before tackling issues they believe in. For a female candidate to embrace classic patriarchal standards (pro-life, anti LGBTQ) instantly gives her that position of power and authority (to those that believe/want these patriarchal constructs). So I imagine it takes time for a female candidate to build her base of power and authority because she can tackle any issue that is controversial.

    I’m also interested in your statement “It kills my soul to campaign for a man.” While I completely agree that there need to be more women in all levels of public office, I don’t want just any women in office. I’ll take a progressive man any day over a Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell. For me this is an important issue in feminism–feminism cannot be divided by gender. Feminism isn’t just for women and for feminism to be effective we need men to be feminists. Patriarchy hurts men too, it just manifests in different ways.

  4. Hi Kim, great point about privilege and perceptions of authority. I think that women experience this battle to be accepted as a speaker in almost every setting, not just the campaign trail.

    I was (and am) a die-hard Hillary supporter. I think that her challenge in the campaign was the war. Hillary is a peacenik at heart in my opinion. But it would be very difficult for her to be perceived as ready to be “commander in chief” if she hadn’t advocated more hawkish positions than Obama.

    I also agree with you about the importance of supporting men who are the pro-choice candidates. I wouldn’t be knocking on doors for David Schapira, or making phone calls for other men running for office, if they weren’t the better candidate. The reason that I’m getting tired of all of it is that I want to vote for a pro-choice woman. Period.

  5. Great question. I’m just glad we at least have Senator Boxer.

Speak Your Mind