The XX Factor

Women With Gavels

Hanna , I agree that sexism is never going to fully eradicated, and that people will always try to slot powerful women into certain comfortable stereotypes-the witch and the ditz being two. But powerful men also get slotted. George Bush was the rich-boy buffoon controlled by Dick Cheney, the devil incarnate. You mention Pelosi is becoming a Ted Kennedy figure-that is, the personification for the right of the evils of the left. But it’s effective to have everything one side hates about the other embodied in a single person. I’m not sure the image of Pelosi as a power-mad woman with a love for big gavels and Botox is any worse than that of Kennedy as a bloated, drunken reprobate who thought he knew best what Americans should do with their money. And some people just arouse passions: Newt Gingrich did, Dennis Hastert didn’t. The key point with Pelosi is that she is so powerful. So is that more unsettling because she’s a woman? And are the nasty characterizations of women public figures negative in a different, more destructive way than those of men?