Women and Politics

A blog from WCF about the state of women and politics

Women candidates and money: Another double standard?

A woman can either be a prude or promiscuous. Too pretty or too masculine. A shrew or a doormat. As women try to tip-toe somewhere in the middle, we find that one small move can send us plunging straight into one of the extremes.

And of course, politics is not free of these dichotomies: Sarah Palin is hot. Hillary is mean. Martha Coakley is a Jezebel.

But lately I’ve noticed a new double standard arising: Women candidates either have too much money or not enough.

Let’s look at two different races: Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner running for U.S. Congress and Linda McMahon running for Senate in Connecticut.

From the beginning, Jennifer Brunner has been told she shouldn’t run for Senate because she’s such a good Secretary of State. They need her there. This is one of the most classically lame “reasons” given to women as to why they shouldn’t run for higher office.

On top of that, she’s now being assaulted by her own party about her fundraising. Bob Menendez of the DSCC is threatening not to support her until she raises more money—despite the fact that many are saying she’s the only hope for a Democratic win (Lee Fisher reportedly lost his last two campaigns, despite outraising his opponent).

Unfortunately, we all know that fundraising is a necessary component of political campaigns. (That’s a whole different rant for a different day). However, I have to ask—would Menendez be pulling support from the more viable male candidate who wasn’t raising as much as his less-viable opponent?

Now let’s look at Linda McMahon. The former chief executive of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), she apparently has too much money. Though hundreds of male candidates have self-funded their way to elected office, McMahon is being accused of trying to buy the seat.

Again, all personal feelings about campaign financing aside, I have to say that it’s nice to finally see a successful woman using her wealth to run for office. Men have been doing it for decades, so for better or for worse, seeing a woman have that same ability gives me some sense of satisfaction.

But I do wonder what kind of double standard women in politics will face next. I’m sure 2010 will unfold some new gems for us, as well as reignite some old classics.

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