Friday, December 19, 2008

Gender parity or gender chauvinism?

Thea Selby, in an op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner, laments that "San Francisco has come up embarrassingly short in gender parity in local elections." She quotes Supervisor Peskin: "We need more women [on the Board of Supervisors]." Why? What exactly do women bring to the table that men don't? And whose fault is it that more women don't run for office? What exactly are the alleged barriers to their doing so? Selby says that having 50% female candidates in the next election "is the new world I want to be part of." The real world she is part of now no longer observes this kind of distinction.

There are in fact no barriers now to women running for office. Why, for example, were there no women running against Ross Mirkarimi in District 5? The answer: Like progressive men in the district, progressive women, like Susan King and Lisa Feldstein, no doubt understood that they would surely lose to uber-prog Mirkarimi who was also the incumbent. And, more importantly, neither King nor Feldstein have significant political differences with Mirkarimi and other progressives on the Board of Supervisors. That is, they would bring nothing special to the table politically.

When I was a young man, male passengers on Muni routinely got up to give women their seats just because they were women. Those days are long gone, of course. The new political reality also reflects the changes in culture: Women as women are entitled to no special treatment or political deference from us guys. The playing field in the political arena is now essentially level, girls, and you're on your own.

Overall, fewer women ran for supervisor than men. Women made up barely one-fourth of the candidates for supervisor and only 14 percent of the winners. Several of the supervisor districts didn’t field a single female candidate, including Districts 5 and 7. Yet, the Board of Supervisors wields at least as much power as the mayor in this city. They make much of the legislation and policies that guide our everyday lives. Why aren’t we women interested in participating in the creation of this very important legislation? Once you run, you need support. Even when we fielded candidates, our rate of victors was not as high as the number of candidates fielded. We should have won two or even three seats for supervisor. But we won one. This is evidence that women are not receiving the backing of the powers within San Francisco that have a great deal to do with winning elections. The Democratic National County Committee, made up of eight women and 15 men, for example, endorsed all men for the Board of Supervisors. What’s that about?...When the next round of elections comes, let’s have 50 percent of the candidates be women. That is the new world that I want to be a part of, one where all sorts of people are at the political table.

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The real reason for articulated buses

Ever wonder about the origins of the articulated bus design? Neither have I, but Peter Smith explains it for us anyhow on his bike blog:

Those hulking ‘bendy buses’ you see slamming through traffic---formally, they go by the moniker ‘articulated buses.’ I think they were probably designed by evil people for the purpose of scaring the few remaining cyclists off the roads.

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