Why Were Women Shut Out of the Shutdown Negotiations?

14 Oct 2013

Where are the women

While there is no guarantee that women in Congress would bring the government shutdown to an end, historically women have a better record of cutting across party lines to forge compromise.  As this picture illustrates, far from having a 19% representation of women at the table — their current average number in the House and Senate — there are 0% at the table.  Hmmm.  Makes a girl think…

Per the article in Think Progress:

No matter your take on the debate over the shutdown and the debt ceiling, there’s one irrefutable fact: All of the major players in the negotiations are men. On the right, you’ve got Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA). On the left, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Barack Obama (D) himself.


It’s cringe-worthy, on one hand, since one of the sticking points stopping Republicans from passing a funding bill has been the women’s reproductive health measures included in Obamacare. But on a deeper level, it also explains why the game of chicken happening over the nation’s economy is playing out the way it is.


Stubbornness, narcissism, overconfidence — these are traits that have been cultivated in male leaders. That’s not an independent analysis; studies show that men like to take a lot of risks while women are more willing to concede in negotiations. Women also tend to make governments less corrupt (probably because they live outside of the cultural norms that foster corruption) and corporate boards more profitable. Not to mention they focus on a different set of policy priorities (PDF) when they make it into elected office. Men, meanwhile, score lower on emotional intelligence tests — a measure of humility.

This is not so much about a willingness to concede — but ego, pure and simple.  It is also insulting that women are 51% of the population, yet we are not included at the highest levels of government in decisions that affect our lives.

Not content with the situation, Maine Senator Susan Collins (R)  and West. Va. Senator Joe Manchin (D) proposed a deal supported by moderate Senators Amy Klobuchar, Mary Landreiu, Bob Corker and Mark Pryor as they attempted to find compromise on the debt ceiling debate.  From the Huffington Post, In pertinent part:

“[T]he basic idea was to fund the government through March at the levels specified for 2013 in the 2011 budget deal, and to raise the debt ceiling enough to last through January, to give time to negotiate a longer-term budget. The plan would leave Obamacare alone, but replace for two years a device tax that helps fund the law.”

We don’t want to engage in a game of kick the can, but the more voices who can chime in and offer solutions rather than bullying or posturing, the better.  While Collins avers her plan is “not dead yet,” the game of chicken being played by Harry Reid and John Boehner is unlikely to end well.  Does anyone think this is the way to a solution that is going to benefit Main Street?

It is also interesting to note that moderates from both sides praised the plan, but when one found out their counterpart on the other side liked it, more hemming, hawing and backpedaling ensued.

Whether or not we like or agree with what Senator Collins has offered up, why were the reasonable people among us — men and women — not consulted from the beginning?  Surely, this tantrum could have been averted if we didn’t have the loudest 10%  on the left and right controlling the debate.

And I hate to make this about Mars versus Venus, but if we had a majority of women sitting at the table, a shutdown might not have happened in the first place.

Please take another look at that picture and tell me women have an equal voice in this country.







  1. Why Were Women Shut Out of the Shutdown Negotiations? | Anita Finlay | Author | Actor | Blogger | Speaker | Host

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