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Even in Local Races, 'The War is Far from Over' for Women Politicians

This letter was submitted by June Coan.

In 2008 during the election period, I was taking a general philosophy class at Springfield College. My professor is a male feminist; even though he is a philosopher, he had originally gone to college for political science before changing majors. With that being said, most of our philosophy class circled around women and politics.  

We watched footage of election issues surrounding Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and John McCain. One of the topics brought up in class was how the women like Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton were treated in the election. Hillary was constantly being referred as a female dog and criticized for her voice and feminist beliefs, while Sarah was highly criticized for her “lack of” intelligence and praised for her looks, overshadowing her campaign goals.

We are now facing another election year, not just on a national level but at a local level as well. Out of ten people between city council and school committee that serve, only three are women. Two of the three are heavily criticized. Each one has her own personality; two are similar to the liking of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, and the other one, for the most part, a silent leader. 

Another woman, , has announced her running for Ward 3 on City Council. And already, rude remarks have appeared about her looks. 

I find it rather interesting that women seem to receive the highest criticism especially in politics. Many times intelligence and beauty (or lack thereof) is questioned or criticized, and rarely is the actual things they do in a good or negative way receive attention. Also another thing that receives much attention is the woman’s relationship status, and who that person is if they are in a relationship at all. 

It’s funny to see these women criticized, when their male counterparts are similar. We have men on both the city and school sides that are also silent, overly vocal, or make unintelligent remarks but they are not criticized as much, if at all. Also, I never see any of these men get picked on for their looks, although I could make some suggestions for a few to invest in a toupee, look into weight loss surgery or plastic surgery for their face. Also, what is the relationship status of these men and what do their wives do for a living (if married)? But me saying so is counterproductive to my point, right? If we don’t criticize men on those things, then why are we doing this to the women?

Who we vote for should be based on background, agenda and experience, with no mention on how they look, who they are married to or what level their intelligence is, regardless of gender. Unfortunately, the vicious cycle will continue. Many think that in 2012, women should be equal to men at this point right? 

We aren’t there yet. Not only are we not treated equally as mentioned above, but women still make seventy-seven cents for every dollar that is made by a man. We have yet to have a female president, and only recently were women allowed to be in the Navy Seal. Very few women have served as a Supreme Court Justice, and women are still not recognized for serving in the front lines of the military, even though many women have been killed or injured in our past and current wars. It’s interesting to see women being so criticized, when we are still largely underrepresented, and the war on women is far from over.

June Coan
34 Sunset Ave.

Kevin Oliver March 23, 2012 at 06:10 PM
June in all fairness the critisism of Candy's looks came fom women. Its a damn shame that superficial behavior exists. Who cares if she weas the wrong color lipstick? As long as she can do the damn job that should be all that matters.
June Coan March 23, 2012 at 06:14 PM
As far as Candy Seel's case, yes, you're correct. But she isn't the first woman to be attacked on her looks who is currently or is running to be a politician, and I agree not all attacks are from men either.
b1 March 24, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Isn't it interesting that people know the verbal attacks on Ms. Seel was from women or a woman. I only hope that those female(s) grow up or shut up. Jealousy, that's all it is. With that sort of attack it leads me to believe that who ever is responsible has no clue about being in or running for office. Ms. Seel, I wish you were in my ward!!!
JJD March 24, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Your right, it should be about qualifications, and it doesn't matter if it is men or women doing the criticizing it is wrong and unproductive.
Sandra Letizia March 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Joan, as far as we go back it has always been more about a woman's physical appearance than a man's. However now with all the technology there are so many outlets to converse as well as be anoynomous. This allows many more comments especially personal one's to be public. Presently with all the economic hardship there isn't too many politicians that aren't personally attacked,we read it daily on patch comments. So anyone wanting to become a public figure has to understand very quickly this will happen (doesn't make it right)as far as Ms.Seel goes I am a bit surprised that she even brought the comment up. She herself has been most critical of certain political figures as well as indorsed others who have been. Again wether your or woman or man negative personal comments hurt. It is not right,but occurs daily
June Coan March 24, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Agreed Sandra. And it's June by the way.
Candy Seel March 24, 2012 at 04:43 PM
A very interesting and worthwhile discussion going on. I just have to say that I've never commented upon anyone's personal appearance, nor have I "endorsed others who have been." I'm sorry, but I don't even know what that means. My criticism has always been directed to the words and actions of public officials, not how they look or what they're wearing. I certainly anticipated that people would, in turn, criticize my words and actions. It's only fair. My point was only that I was surprised that some "grown-ups" act like schoolyard bullies. I thought I had left that behind in high school. I guess they haven't. And, by the way, I didn't think the lipstick was all that bad.
Sandra Letizia March 24, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Ms Seel I do not agree with anyone who attacks someone personally,nor do I cadone others that do included in that would be when you question someone's intergrity,one should always have facts. I have read all your weekly opinions in the post,that is my point. It is all so easy to be critical from the outside,if you are elected I guarantee you your thoughts may change.
Rags 1 March 24, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Personal attacks, other than serious misdeeds with proof, are inapproriate and usually the product of someone that has a limited knowledge of the issues and substitutes them in the place of intelligence. Issues are not rocket science. More spending than revenue received, special interest representation, narrrow scope of knowledge of subject matter, lack of experience in gov operations, ethics etc. etc. are all acceptable. Hair color, lipstick, suits, hair style etc.etc. are stupid statements that no candidate male or female should be questioned about. EP should be bigger than that.
Candy Seel March 24, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Anything that I've written about was either published in the local papers or business that I've observed at Council meetings. If by criticizing people's actions, that means I've attacked their integrity, then maybe it's their integrity that's questionable, not my commenting on it. I'm sure I'll have a different perspective if I'm elected, but I doubt that my basic thoughts and values will change.
Paul March 24, 2012 at 11:33 PM
I am a Ward 1 voter and I am represented by women on both the City Council and School Committee. I hope that Sandra is not implying that women are off limits when it comes to critiques of their performance. The personal attacks on Ms. Seel were infantile and deplorable. Similarly, early in her council tenure, Katie Kleyla was targeted for some college indiscretions that were posted on Facebook. Again, unfair and inexcusable. All that aside, I find Ms. Kleyla, my representative on the Council, to be ineffective. Not because she is a woman, but because she is unable to articulate thoughts, remain focused, develop policies, and lead initiatives. If I lived in a different Ward, I may have similar feedback for one of her male counterparts, but I don't live in another Ward. I've read Ms. Seel's comments in the Post, and have never found them to be personal or inappropriate. Let's not confuse constructive, pointed, even sharp debate with personal attacks. Those who target women because they are women are cowards and thugs. Those who critique their representative who may happen to be women, are exercizing their rights in a democracy. If I were a woman, I would want to see female leaders of whom we can all be proud of, even if we may disagree with their policies. Ms. Seel appears to have the potential to be such a leader, Ms. Kleyla is not.
June Coan March 25, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Paul, spot on with your commentary. Obviously I would support female politicians, however, as long as she had leadership skills. Not all are cut out to be a politician.
Sandra Letizia March 25, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Ms Seel You have every right to your opinion and write it weekly(one point I thought you worked for the post),as well as I have mine. I have learned along time ago to watch out for folks who criticize others integrity and toot their own. We will see what the voters of ward 3 think.
Jason Desrosiers March 25, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Since Candy announced for office, I have gone back to read a lot of her letters. I've seen more vitriol at a church bakesale than in her letters. She is opinionated, but to me that's a strength, not a weakness.
Next City Manager March 28, 2012 at 06:06 AM
Candy Seel will be a welcomed improvement to that council seat.

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