[Cross-posted at Founder's Blog, 51 Percent; h/t to friend M.M. for drawing my attention to the clip from This Week with George Stephanopoulos] [update, 3:00 pm, improved link to video]
Watch this. Set aside the matter of whether being a woman helped or hindered Ms. Kennedy's bid for Secretary of State Clinton's Senate seat. Pay attention, careful attention, to Sam Donaldson. Notice that the minute Cokie Roberts and Carly Fiorina even mention broader issues of gender parity, and more particularly, when Roberts notes that in the November general election that only 36 percent of the electorate were white men, Donaldson cuts her off, with an assist from George Stephanopoulos, and launches into a into a combination whine ("please try to continue to do it without us") and pompous bloviation (Governor Paterson has, by defying the New York powers-that-be "shot himself in both feet").
I agree with with the commentator at The New Agenda: "The patriarchy is especially threatened by our push for equal representation...."
So scared that blustery old men like Sam Donaldson cannot even hold back from a move familiar to any woman who has ever partaken in a profession "round table" or meeting. The minute a woman starts pressing a significant and weighty point that a man does not want to hear he starts talking over her. Rather than the male moderator - in this case Stephanopoulos - telling him to pipe down so Roberts could at least finish her sentence, the male moderator tries to gloss over the moment of sexist rudeness (no, not just rudeness, sexist rudeness) with a lame joke ("at least you asked [before seamlessly launching into your interruption]"). As with racist put-downs, this sort of joviality in the face of sexist rudeness compounds the problem. It certainly does not put in his place the original sexist interrupter, who could not even bear to hear out the comment being made about proportional representation.
With four men (including Stephanopoulos himself) and two women at the round table, there is not even 51 percent representation on This Week, at least this week. But I would love to get a careful breakdown of the speaking time of the four men and the two women: if Stephanopoulos and his producers cannot produce a panel of 4 women and two men or at least three and three, then it would useful if Stephanopoulos careful made sure that the two women get close to 51 per cent of the air time. It would be better if this were achieved by having 3 or 4 women on the panel, because that would further the more tangible goal of 51 percent women in every public sphere, and because it would not require deviation from with ingrained norms (albeit ill-fitting in this case) about speaking time being roughly alloted per person (assuming that is the norm on talk shows like This Week). But listen again to the clip and imagine if Fiorina and Roberts had had 51 percent of the air time. Whether you agree with their specific views or not, how might the overall conversation have been different? More representative of a range of views and ideas more likely to be held by women than by men?