In decades past San Francisco sent Nancy Pelosi to the Lower House and nurtured Dainne Feinstein. The local electorate keeps dutifully reelecting Barbara Boxer, the other incumbent California Senator. And yet the current political culture of this two-party (Democrat and Green) municipality smacks of misogyny.
Only 12 out of 31 elected office-holders are women. No big deal, you say, perhaps the gals around here have better things to do with their time. But against the background of Pelosi bragging about the number of Democratic women on the Hill, the low representation of women in politics in her hometown looks embarrassing. And so the Democrat establishment of the City demanded that mayor Ed Lee appoint not merely an outwardly female double-X barer, but a mother to fill a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors because, it turned out, there is not a single mother among the 11 board members. Perhaps Mayor Lee could had done one better and appoint a transsexual “mother” who was once a father or something like that, but, I guess, he didn’t know any. So he found a 29-year-old “girl” to be the 4th double exer on the Board.
That there are no mothers on the SF Board of Supervisors is only natural. It’s not just that we, mothers, live on tight schedules; the City is notorious for its adult ambiance. Parents and kids are fleeing to the suburbs, the Pacific North-West and just about anywhere else, really. San Francisco can not remain both a party mecca and a family hub, and it seems to be committed to being a party mecca. Although this situation says something about the City, I don’t view it as a problem: hipsters are people too, and they need a place to party. One group that sees it as a problem are the teachers unions who see the family flight and anticipate lay-offs. The politicians beholden to the union go out of their way to make the City family-friendly, but have little to show for their efforts. It’s a topic for a different post.
I wonder if the Dems are feeling the pressure from the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. I heard a rumor that they want to tap into the demographic of women getting a “second wind”, former stay at home moms with grown children. That should be interesting. Married women are generally a Republican demographic. We are zealous about good economic outlook, worried about national security and understand the value of human life. I’m not sure what liberal mommies are going to bring to the table besides their peculiar brand of environmentalist neurosis.
Mommie issues aside, the political culture and social life in the City by the Bay is not exactly pro-woman, and this is immediately obvious. Walk down the streets of the Lower Mission, for instance, and watch “girls”, many of them potentially attractive, going out of their way to look ironic. Those who partake in the prestigious hobby of biking in the hilly city streets often grow thighs.
If the “girls” get involved in grass roots politics, it’s usually through outfits like Code Pink or with that septuagenarian (what’s her face?) who can’t shut up about her reproductive organs. Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers have a revealing picture of the former. I hate to bring it to Code Pink, but they fall more than a little short of Inna Shevchenko. Zombie documented some interesting vagina/abortion dances and an anti-rape rally attended by mayor Lee (and possibly the entire Board of Supervisors, though not sheriff Mirkarimi, more of which later). This kind of assemblies are bound to repel anyone with a semblance of self-esteem, no matter how sympathetic they are to leftie causes. And besides, grass root politics around here is a domain of dead end narcissists; it’s a lifestyle, not a way of getting ahead.
Some local women do get ahead. A case in point is Kamala Harris, Bay Area’s most recent gift to state politics. Kamala, a spinster in her late 40s who now occupies the office of Attorney General of California, launched her career by sleeping with then-Speaker of California State Assembly and later mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown. In addition to appointing her to positions on several Committees, Speaker Brown bought Kamala a Mercedes. Then he helped her launch her successful District Attorney bid.
In the nearby Alameda county, Nadiya Lockyer, the young wife of the State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, became County Supervisor in 2010. She was considered one of the rising stars in California Democratic politics until she resigned last year after a scandal involving substance abuse and a sex tape. Sleeping one’s way to the top hardly raises an eyebrow in the post-third wave feminist Bay Area. We are very sophisticated here, and we don’t judge. Still, it’s one of those things that are bound to give pause to a number of women with political ambitions, particularly those who are married and especially the ones with children.
Look who else is active in San Francisco politics. Why, the co-founder of the California Green Party Ross Mirkarimi. In November 2011, Mirkarimi, who had no prior law enforcement experience, was elected San Francisco sheriff. He started off 2012 with a bang, literally. The sheriff’s wife ran off to a neighbor’s house, and the neighbor videotaped her sobbing and showing the bruises inflicted by her husband. Unlike Lockyer, Mirkarimi managed to survive the ensuring political storm. (The interesting thing about Mirkarimi is that, while virulently anti-2nd Amendment, the man owned three pistols.)
There is a lot of feminist rah-rah in San Francisco, but the optics are gross. The feminist rhetoric, sometimes goofy, sometimes over the top, covers up a culture of indifference to issues that are supposed to excite a feminist, issues like family violence or an opportunity to make an honest living. Underlying it all is a culture alien to the women who are not single — or at least childless. No wonder there are no mothers on San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
…And on the right we have the Tea Party, a successful grass roots organization driven to a large extent by women, many of whom are mothers, many of whom embarked on a career in electoral politics.