Women and Politics

A blog from WCF about the state of women and politics

No Girls Allowed? Beaven and Brunner Strike Back at the Old Boys’ Club

In two very different Federal-level races, female candidates are fighting back against blatant examples of sexist Old Boys’ Club behavior.

In the Ohio Senate race, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is no stranger to being bullied by the big boys—essentially being told to stay in her place and mind her manners. Most recently, Brunner discovered that her primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, was covertly angling for a last-minute endorsement from the State Democratic Party before early voting began for the May 4th primary. A state party endorsement would undermine the purpose of the primary, especially in a race where all candidates are neck and neck.

Brunner fought back by rallying her supporters with the slogan, “Hands Off Our Primary!” There was a resounding grassroots response, and Brunner supporters sent over 74,000 emails to party leaders, demanding neutrality until the primary was over. Fisher and the State Democratic Party both backed off under this considerable pressure.

Meanwhile in Florida’s 7th district, Congressional Candidate Heather Beaven’s opponent, Rep. John Mica, was exposed for accepting considerable funds from the host of lavish all-male cigar parties. Yes, the kind of gathering where several male elected officials schmooze with their cronies, sip scotch, smoke cigars, and ogle paid models (the only women in attendance).

Beaven made a statement against the scandalous cigar parties in her district:

“These secret clubs were planned to be entertaining and lucrative for attendees, some of whom were awarded major government contracts. Is this what we hired our representatives to do? The Good Ole’ Boy System of years past is not what we need to lead us into a prosperous 21st century. What else is being decided at these private male-only clubs?”

She asked supporters to get behind her and send a message to Mica that, “when you lay down with the dogs, you come up with fleas.”

To say that both of these stories reveal women’s uphill battle in politics is an understatement. There cannot be a level playing field until voters and politicians send the message that backroom deals and boys-only schmoozing are not acceptable. We must elect a critical mass of women who will dismantle the Old Boys’ Club and demand transparency in our political world.

Otherwise, we might as well post a sign on the Capitol that says “No Girls Allowed.”

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