Hartford Courant – By Laurence Cohen & Gina Barreca, Irreconcilable Differences

9/19/2010

Larry

Ah, Gina, all is well with the world. Sure, sure, Iran is not-so-secretly building nuclear weapons; unemployment remains as high as Barack Obama’s ego; and our great-great-great grandchildren will be paying off pension obligations for today’s file clerks and auto mechanics in the employ of the state of Connecticut.

But, so what? On the important stuff, we’re ready to act. The state’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women has launched yet another of its life-changing initiatives — in this case, to pester state government about the number of women in top jobs.

I’ve been pacing my living room at night, worrying about that one. Budget deficits? Almost no job growth in the state for years? Who cares? I’m relieved that the PCSW has awakened from its slumber to get right on that hiring thing.

The evidence is clear. Just because the governor’s chief of staff is a woman; just because the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management is a woman; just because the Environmental Protection commissioner is a woman; just because the Economic Development commissioner is a woman; just because the governor’s chief legal counsel is a woman; just because the Connecticut Development Authority’s executive director is a woman; just because the Veterans Affairs commissioner is a woman; it seems clear that women don’t get appointed to any top jobs in the state.

Gina, thank God we have a Permanent Commission on the Status of Women to focus on what’s really important. It’s a good thing that the commission is “permanent.” What would we do without it?

Gina

You sound like the guys wearing hunting caps, flannel shirts and eyeglasses held together by Band-Aids who walk into bookstores and bark “I see y’all have a Women’s Studies section. Where’s the Men’s Studies section?” after which they cough, laugh and practically spit at their own wit.

Some of them actually do spit, and that’s why a lot of people now make purchases through Amazon.

The only possible answer to the question posed by the hunting-cap-wearers is this: “Sweetie, the rest of the store is Men’s Studies. They just don’t need to call it that.”

Larry, what is it about you guys that makes you so bitter if among the hundreds of shelves of books about war, cars, body-building, The Three Stooges, Glenn Beck, the influence of the Stooges on Beck, there’s one corner with exactly one bookcase stuffed with colorful cheerful volumes concerning maternity, menopause and menstruation? Are you so resentful that there’s a comfy chair with an afghan throw over the arm that you’re willing to stomp around and act like a fool?

I guess we know the answer to that one, don’t we? Basically, you’re making the same argument, except you’re making it about the government instead of bookstores. The rest of it belongs to the guys, OK?

Larry, I am grateful that we have a Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in Connecticut — and not just a monthly one, as you and your conservative cronies first suggested — precisely because you can name the number of women who hold significant public office in the state.

When the number of women holding important decision-making political positions is anywhere near equitable, you won’t be able to point them out. That’s what equity is about.

Don’t worry, though. You’ll be ranting about them because they’re troublemakers, or too smart, or too hard-working, or too committed to principles of justice and therefore embarrassing to the politicians you support, so don’t worry about having nothing to talk about.

Larry

So, the World According to Gina works in peculiar ways: Political girls are “smart’ and “hard-working” and “committed to principles of justice,” unless they are Republican vice presidential candidates, in which case guys from the left edge of the Democratic Party will do just fine. The gender-count thing is just silly, Gina. If 50 Ivy League-graduate women with political and corporate experience lined up at the door of the Permanent Commission, and they all happened to be rabid pro-life, slash-the-budget, put-a-gun-in-every-girl’s-purse kind of gals, the invitation from the commission to apply for state jobs would disappear faster than Obama’s approval ratings.

The issue is issues, not gender. Assuming we can never make the Permanent Commission go away, at least we can urge it to grow up.

Gina

No, Larry, in my world —- which is the one most people live in, by the way — women in politics are “smart’ and “hard-working” and “committed to principles of justice” unless they are “uneducated, virtually illiterate morons” who “quit their elected positions” because they get pouty or because they don’t like interviews where they are asked “questions” and for whom “principles of justice” include exorcisms and the refusal to permit women to have the right to decide what happens to their bodies. I’m funny that way: a woman who is a dangerous political figure is still a dangerous political figure, even if she wears cool shoes. So in that respect, Larry, you’re right: The issue is issues, when it comes to my opinion.

When it comes to the work done by the PCSW, however, it isn’t about politics, it’s only about gender equity. I know you hate it when I bring in facts, pesky things that they are, but this is from the PCSW website and refers to the initiative you ridicule in your first paragraph: “Women will be recommended for any positions for which they are qualified, regardless of their stands on particular issues and/or party affiliation.” Tell any unemployed neo-con women you know that they’re welcome to apply, once they’re done filming “Dancing With the Stars,” or whatever it is they do for cash. Just tell them to remove the guns from their purses, please. And ask them to read the PCSW website before commenting on it, OK? Thanks.

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