Monday, January 14, 2008

43 men...

219 years.
43 Presidents.
43 White Men.

In the 1790 census, performed one year after George Washington was inaugurated, there were approximately 1,598,944 free white men, 1,541,263 free white women, 59,150 free persons of other races, and 694,280 slaves in the United States.

The free white women were nearly equal in number to the free white men at the start of our nation (this did not account for women of other races, of course, neither did the numbers for the men). President George Washington was not representative of the sex and race of the majority of the population. That was the way things were back then, but they changed.

In 1890, there were approximately 32,067,880 men and 30,554,370 women in the United States. There were approximately 7,038,360 non-white persons. There was a total population of 62,622,250 persons. White men totaled less than half the population of the United States. President Benjamin Harrison was not representative of the sex and race of a majority of the population. That was the way things were back then, but they changed.

In 2000, there were 143,368,343 women and 138,053,563 men in the United States. 75.1 percent of those were white, 24.9 percent were another race. The women outnumbered the men. President George W. Bush was not representative of the gender and race of the majority of the population. That was the way things were back then, but they changed?

Not in 2004...

Oh, but gender discrimination, it's all but gone. Things have changed.

219 years.
43 Presidents.
43 White Men.

Where exactly is the change?

If you want to see the numbers, get a look at how much lower our wages are, how the families we support are more likely to be impoverished, and how at all age groups we are more likely to live in poverty than men are, go here, and choose the "We the Americans" report on women.

Not all the news is bad. We are getting more educated, we are getting more involved in the workforce and in politics, but not enough has changed. Run the numbers for yourself. The census info goes back all the way to 1790, and it makes for a very interesting read.

ADDITION: Posted after some positive news on women in politics, and a comment as to the nigh-purely negative view of my post, was discovered... (by me, I realize the editorial was out for a bit before I read it. Sorry Daddy, I don't always read it right away!.)

Colorado is a great place for women to be! Why? Well we outnumber the men in the House of Representatives, 21 to 19. Yay! A female majority! Of course, women politicos still only make up a third of the legislators in the state, but there is a majority in the house.

Why does this matter? Because while there have not been any Boys V.S. Girls votes in the legislature, it is important to realize that voting on bills is only a small part of the process. Determining what bills get up for vote is the big part, and having a number of women around to insure a modicum of women's issues get on the floor is an important thing!

The editorial is much more eloquent than me. Link above and check it out!

10 comments:

blizzo said...

I have to admit this post leaves me a bit irked. Your position is, that in the last 230 years or so there has been no progress on the front of equality?

When George Washington was president, pretty much all people that weren't white and male were second class citizens. Today, people of all colors and genders hold positions at all levels of power except for one, the highest office in the land.

It makes sense that that would be the last one to crack, since it is the one with the most visibility and arguably the most power. And even considering that, we already have women and minorities as major players in presidential primaries, it's only a matter of time!

Scylla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scylla said...

That is okay, I am a bit irked by people's unwillingness to acknowledge that the problem of grnder equality still exists, and that some work towards fixing it doesn't equal fixing it.

I do not think, nor did I say, that there were no strides toward gender equality made in the past 219 years. What I did say is that there hasn't been enough change.

You point to the last woman president. Go ahead. Tell me her name.

The same goes for the last black president, or latino president, or anything other than a white man president.

When I can tell my daughter (like I can tell my son) that she can grow up to be president, without having to add that she might even be the first, I will feel as though the glass ceiling has been broken.

It will not fix gender equality issues either, but it will break through the final glass ceiling. That final barrier that clearly says, "nah, you are not really as equal as we are."

As for the matter of time thing, this country isn't so good at fixing things when people give us time. We often have to be sued, we usually have to have riots, we rarely fix things simply because it is the right thing to do.

I want another push, before I waste any more of my time.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Ooooh! Very nice and I like your response to Blizzo, although I am dying to know what the comment that got deleted was about. Juicy? Perhaps.

Regarding the issue at hand, it's very easy to say how much better things are now, blah blah blah and women really are equal in the halls of power sweetie! until you look at actual numbers.

Congress as of 2007: women hold 86, or 16.1%, of the 535 seats in the 110th US Congress — 16, or 16.0%, of the 100 seats in the Senate and 70, or 16.1%, of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.

SIXTEEN PERCENT

We represent slightly more than HALF the population, but are only represented by 16% of the reps in Congress.

From http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/Facts.html

And the best part? That's a "huge" jump from what it was just a couple of years ago.

Don't get me started about how we're lucky to be represented at ALL, either.

blizzo said...

My argument was not that we have reached equality, because we haven't. My point was the way this post was written made it sound like there was NO representation.

Yes, we have a long way to go. But I think that if you could go back in time 50 years and tell women and minority activists how things are today they would be very happy, and say were off to a good start.

The angry fat cat said...

"We represent slightly more than HALF the population, but are only represented by 16% of the reps in Congress."

So what is this really saying? Woman make up the majority of the population (and therefor the electorate). The fact that there is not equal representation doesn't necessarily indicate that there is gender discrimination. There are fewer women running for office than men and when they do run, women appear not to vote for them. A lack of political aspiration and ambition in American women is not the same as gender discrimination.

Finally, are you wanting a world that is "gender neutral" or a world where women get "their fair share"? They are very different things.

Scylla said...

I do not want a gender neutral world, and the fair share thing is really hard to enumerate and quantify.

Let's just say I want women to realistically have the same opportunities as men.

And you are right, a lack of ambition is not the same as discrimination, however, it is no proof that discrimination no longer exists.

Show me the last time the media went nuts because a male candidate got choked up when he talked about his country, or when popular culture deemed a male candidate to be a power hungry bitch when he was running a national campaign.

There is no reasonable way to look at the historical wealth of opportunity men have had, and the historical lack of it women and minorities have had, and say that lack of ambition is the reason there aren't more women and minorities in office.

Lack of resources, lack of opportunity, lack of respect, and lack of equality, those things are the reasonable reasons for the lack of representation.

Just look at our notion of equality itself. We do not want men to have the same rights as women, we want women to have the same rights as men. The very nature of our nation's search for gender equality is a speaking example of it's inherent inequality.

There is no equality in gender neutrality. Men and women are different. However, that difference should in no way deny women the same opportunities allowed to men.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I'm sorry, AFC, but you are confusing a lack of women in political office as a lack of interest in being in political office. Let's think that through, shall we?

In order to run for office, one must have a stable income or be wealthy already. You may note that many of those that run are wealthy
(at least for Federal positions. State positions pay poorly, but you're more likely to see true believers in office at the State level). Secondly, if the candidate is married and has children, who is caring for those kids? Generally the woman, no? Caring for children tends to put a serious crimp in one's free time to run for office. So if you can find a single, independently wealthy woman that wants to run for office that's great! However, she will still have to run against someone and win.

OK, instead, you've found an older woman who may be single or married and perhaps her children are grown. Heaven forfend if she's divorced, that doesn't sell a candidate. Again, she needs to have the money and time to run, or a very supportive husband and again, she will have to run against the established candidate. Most likely a man.

Often, by the time an older woman has the time and money to run, she's usually tired from decades of caring for others or working her job to get to a financially comfortable position.

Men, on the other hand, aren't expected to put in years of direct child care and thus have the time to run. They also aren't the ones that spend 9 month stints being pregnant and up to a year or two with an infant strapped to their breast. Add that time up with number of children produced and there you have spent the better portion of a woman's 20s-40s. After the kids are old enough, does she have the money to run or has she been a SAHM all those years?

Do you see what I'm getting at here?

The "lack of political aspiration" that you see is the opportunity cost of raising a family that I see.

Now if you wanted to put limits on how much it costs to run for office and subsidized or (dare I suggest it?) free daycare, equal pay for equal work, removal of glass ceilings, unbiased hiring boards, etc. then you just might see more women have the same time/opportunity as men to run for office.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Winnie said...

I don't usually get into this type of conversation, but I'm a bit confused by what Woman with a Hatchet said. You are making it sound like women don't have a choice. Don't women CHOOSE to have children and care for them? I would like to say that we can work while we're pregnant, and we can choose to go back to work after 6 weeks of maternity leave. We don't have to choose to have an infant strapped to our breasts for a year or two. The key thing here is that a woman CHOOSES to care for the kids or to have children. So, doesn't this mean that she wants to have or to care for her family MORE than running for office? Although, wanting something more than another is not quite the same as "lack of aspiration", but it's pretty close

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