I’m a bit behind on the blogging. There have been some elections lately. Not those elections! The Canadian municipal elections! Specifically, Toronto.  I will spare you my rant about the whole thing (others have done it better, I’m concerned about how Scarborough is being treated, and this is the IFLS blog, so…) I see that Toronto now has 33% women on council.  This is grounds for celebration, and I’m not being sarcastic.  Did you know that:

Kristyn Wong-Tam is one of the few women who ran on a feminist platform. She’s also the only new visible minority to get elected – but that’s fodder for a whole other column.

Well. Now that IS news (both bits are news, and i’m waiting for that other column….)  If your career plans have been changed by reading that first line (from Catherine Porter in the Star, click through for her interesting piece to see more about the women’s “breakthrough” with  Sarah Doucette, stalwart Pam McConnell, Mary Fragedakis and Ana Bailão – and see how Wong-Tam plans to do gender analysis at Metro Hall and connect with Rob Ford),       maybe you want to check out Equal Voice.  This organization wants to promote the election of more women at all levels of government and to that end.  Go to their online “Getting to the Gate” course (you have to register) and learn how to get ready to run.  Or get ready to tell that smart, aware and active friend of yours that she should run.

Equal Voice and another Canadian organization, Canadian Women’s Voters Congress aren’t like Emily’s List,  the American organization dedicated to electing Female, pro choice, Democrats.  They are non partisan, and open to women of all backgrounds and presumably all political positions.*

With that in mind, and for those of you thinking about those midterms (not exams! elections) here’s a link to Slate’s DoubleX “So, How’d the Women Do” set of articles.  Because it’s always good to complicate the issue with a bit of “be careful what you wish for…..”

On the new governor of S. Carolina, Nikki Haley.  You know, immigrant, minority businesswoman subjected to a fair amount of racist and misogynistic crap during her campaign (click here for Ann Bartow at feministlawprofessors on the situation).  Apparently she doesn’t think being a minority or an immigrant is  interesting, and upon reflection perhaps it makes a certain amount of sense for her to stay away from those things given the context in which she’s running.  I still wouldn’t vote for her. Says Slate’s Hanna Rosin:

She may be anti-feminist, pro-life, and want to destroy any government-subsidized child care, but still, her victory has symbolic meaning for women ….

But what does it symbolize? And is it spreading north?

My fear fueled frustration is totally unfair – Hanna Rosin did write about what it symbolizes, here, here and here.   I really, really could have done without the Sex and the City explanation for which “mama grizzlies” won/lost [keep lots of clothes on if you want to win! I'm talking to you, woman in her 20's with no idea that politics are in her future!]  I prefered Amanda Marcotte’s take on those grizzlies:

This contradiction exposed why it’s so critical to the fundamentalist worldview that women stay at home and abandon ambition. In this world, women are supposed to be the light, the caretakers, the homemakers, those who smooth feathers and wipe brows. Aggression, meanness, ambition, and even lustiness are considered more masculine traits, even by the public at large. As Dave Weigel reports, the Republicans are beginning to feel that Sharron Angle, at least, spent too much time in the public eye. The longer the public stares at a Mama Grizzly, the more painful the contradiction between her ideals of femininity and her actual behavior.

Here’s something worth taking away about those American elections:

As American University professor Jennifer Lawless points out on the XX Factor blog today, this was most decidedly not a historic year for women. In fact, it’s the first time in 30 years that Americans have seen a net loss in the total number of women in political office. As Lawless explains, Democratic women lost a lot of seats, and Republican women—despite all the hype —did not gain enough seats to make up the difference. Hence, we have backslid in the year of the woman.

Well, you know. That “we” she’s talking about – it’s not Canadian. Right? Oh……Canada.

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* If you are wondering where you can get information about your pro choice candidate is in Canada, try the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.  In  2008 they produced a report card on MP’s, updated October 15, 2010, here.  Maybe they ramp this up during election campaigns? Although I’m not sad that it’s not a major election issue….

My MP is Joe Volpe (Lib).  He fills up my mailbox, and since I don’t read his material because I have no intention of ever voting for him, I don’t know whether he has been letting me know that

a.  he is anti choice,

b.  what he thinks about Dr. Morgentaler’s order of Canada is a secret, and

c. he was absent for the vote on the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill.  For those of you who just mentally heard a slamming on the brakes sound, this happened in 2008.