Politics: The ascendance of ‘Mama Grizzlies’

The big winners in last week’s election primaries were pro-life Republican women.

You’d think feminists would be happy, said Ross Douthat in The New York Times. In last week’s election primaries, women won major victories: Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina in California’s gubernatorial and senate races, Nikki Haley in the South Carolina governor’s race, and Senate hopeful Sharron Angle in Nevada. But unlike in the past, when most female politicians were liberal, pro-choice Democrats, most of last week’s big winners were pro-life Republicans. Feminists are agonized, complaining that the GOP’s new breed aren’t feminists at all. But this election marked “a sea change” in American politics. Thanks to Sarah Palin’s vision of an “emerging conservative feminist identity,” this is now a country “where social conservatives are as comfortable as liberals with the idea of women in high office.” Like Palin, these “Mama Grizzlies” see politics as a means to defend families, free enterprise, and traditional American values.

But what if it’s “just another statistical blip?” said Barbara Kellerman in BloombergBusinessWeek.com. Pundits also proclaimed 1992 “the Year of the Woman,” after dozens of women—mostly Democrats—won seats in Congress and statehouses. Today, 18 years later, only 17 percent of congressional seats are held by women. Statistics in other power arenas are even more bleak—for example, only 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies were headed by women last year. We still have a long way to go, said Mary Sanchez in the Modesto, Calif., Bee. And with some Democratic women, including Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln and California Sen. Barbara Boxer, in danger of losing their seats, November could prove to be an ideological shift but “a numerical wash.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us