You will find no shortage of analysis today on what the loss of Kennedy’s seat to the GOP may mean for Democrats. Is it the end of Obama, who has ratings lower than any President during his first year since Eisenhower? Or is this symbolic of more political losses to come for the Democrats in 2010? And of course the central question on everyone’s mind, blinking in big, bold red lights is, did healthcare reform just die?
But what I want to know is how big of a role sexism played in this race, if any. Massachusetts is as Democratic and as blue as a state can be, but this post on Politico.com points out the larger issue of a glass ceiling in Massachusetts that women still have to break through. The post poses a very important question which clearly exposes the double-standards women, especially female political candidates, must endure:
“If a male attorney general and former prosecutor had been running against a woman who’d posed nude for Cosmopolitan Magazine and whose law practice consisted mainly of real estate closings, would he have been the one reduced to praying for a squeaker victory? Would she have even gotten elected to the state Senate? No and no are the probable answers. But it is an illustration of the kind of double standard voters apply to female candidates — a double standard that some longtime women’s advocates see in the success of Republican Scott Brown, whose college-aged centerfold and lesser professional success didn’t prevent him from capturing Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat from the Democrats.”
The loss of Kennedy’s seat is not just a huge loss for the Democrats. It is a huge humiliation. Despite the fact that Martha Coakely was not the strongest candidate and despite the fact that she did not run the best campaign, the sexist double standards applied to women, especially female political candidates, continue.
Disagree? Then imagine what an image like this one of Scott Brown would have done to the career Martha Coakley? She would not have been able to run for Ted Kennedy’s seat, let alone win it. Just the discovery of the existence of such an image for a woman politician would have spelled out the end of her political career. That is for sure. But for Scott Brown, it spells nothing but the beginning.