How have women changed American politics?

It was 90 years ago today that women won the right to vote. Today’s Question: How have women changed American politics?

  • Women have changed politics by voting for female-friendly candidates. Without the right to vote, women had to leave their fate up to men. Men are still given too much power over our lives, but this is slowly but surely changing. We still have a long way to go.

  • Gary F

    Yes, it may truly be the “Year of the woman” this fall.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Since women have had the right to vote for the entire adult lives of everyone now living, you’d have to have studied some history to know how to answer this. Given the widespread ignorance of history among Americans, I don’t expect many insightful comments about this question.

  • Glenn Farwell

    I see the political parties as the key factor in politics in this country.

    I truely believe that if only men voted- the GOP, as we know it, would be the liberal party. The other party would be much to the right.

    I’m convinced that the government would improve with only women in place. History proves only men in place would self-distruct.

    I’ve worked political issues since the ’60s- and witnessed women taking the helm in doing the ground work. Phone work- schedualing- information- and many other tasks. I’m always proud the see the level of class the women display.

    I aways come away with the thought that we men should simply back away and observe the integrity taking place.

  • mara

    I think women have brought balance in ways that can improve our political system. I am always reminded of our differences when I help my husband on the farm; it takes his perspective and mine together to solve the littlest problems and big ones too. To look at issues from all perspectives is healthy and seems to always work best in any situation.

  • Sue de Nim

    Many of the early Suffragettes in America lived through the Civil War and had the idea that if women had had more influence in politics, that war could have been prevented, and there would be fewer wars in general. Women, it was thought, would be less likely to vote for politicians who would send their sons to war than men would. We can’t know if we would have had more wars without women’s suffrage, but we certainly haven’t prevented them. On the other thand, as nasty as American politics is today, it was worse in the 1800s, so maybe women have had some moderating influence.

  • Matt

    By simply being direct players in the process, women have dramatically altered the political landscape.

    I believe tallying the affects and sorting the nuance of the changes which have occurred would be near impossible.

  • jamex

    Cynical Steve makes an excellent point. (Almost?) no one currently alive has first-hand experience with the men-only political system that dominated the first century & a half of our nation’s existence. Only a political historian would be able to make a before-and-after comparison to identify changes between contemporary American politics and those of the 19th century. And then we’d need to understand those changes in the context of overall societal change in an effort to suss out which ones were the result of women’s participation in the process.

    A hundred years from now, if someone posed the question, “How has social media changed American politics?”, the general public would have no frame of reference from which to approach the question.

  • Amy

    When asked that question, after having suffered through two defeats of significant women candidates (Clinton and more recently, Kelliher), I can only say, “Not Enough”! There is definitely still a prejudice to electing women candidates. Only when prejudice dies will we see the significant changes in American politics that women will bring.

  • Gary F

    And what really funny is how “feminists” can really demonize a certain someone.

    She was not from an Ivy League or prominent college, but Idaho State.

    She wasn’t married to a rich or well connected husband.

    She worked her way up from school board of a small town, to small town mayor, to governor of a state.

    She has a loving husband who is supporting his wife’s career and he is spending time raising the kids.

    She hunts and fishes. Women haven’t been handy with firearms since the prairie settler days.

    She speaks her mind, even though it may not be popular with some.

    Seems like a very strong women to me.

    You’ve come a long way baby.

  • Khatti

    Frankly, it has been so long since the political system has been completely male, that I can’t really remember what it was like before.

    All the questions I’ve answered this week make me think of the original Star Trek. In the case of this question I’m reminded of The Wrath of Khan. Does anyone remember this line…“Were I to invoke logic, logic clearly stipulates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

    To which William Shatner replies, “Or the one.”

    First the needs of the many: women are half the population, they have a unique and valuable perspective, and they are entitled to have a say in how things are run and done. Many of their insights have made politics and society run much better. A woman’s insight into, say, breast cancer—and to what extent research into its cure and prevention should be funded—is a subject I can’t have much of an informed opinion on. While I think that women’s capacity to make society more humane is something of a fantasy, it is probably a fantasy worth pursuing.

    As for the one—in this case, me—well…

    The most important lesson that feminism ever taught me is that morality—particularly social morality—can be astoundingly incompatible with your personal happiness. But there is nothing to be done about it. Women are the many, I am the one; if it comes to a matter of who is expendable, who deserves consideration?

    Feminism, and women, taught me more about my irrelevance and expendability than I’ve ever really been comfortable knowing. The knowledge seems to have soured me permanently on the prospect of mating. My solution to the problem of childrearing in a changing world was to not have children. I’ve never figured out where I really belong in this brave new world; and the ethical solution, as far as I could see, was to belong as little as possible. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

    I’ve noticed that a few of the posts today express the, “Nothing personal guys, but you’re all irredeemable douches!” sentiment. A sentiment to which there doesn’t seem to be any real reply. Perhaps there shouldn’t be. In the end, I suppose all generations chew a little crow before they finally pass into oblivion. This is the particular fowl I and my brothers have been allotted.

    And, at some point, I am concerned with the future of women. I have no children of my own, but I do have two nieces. I want the world to be a place that honors and respects them. I want them, some day, to be integral, important parts of society, of the many. And the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

  • shane

    Well, I think women tend to base their voting more on emotion and securiity. That being said I think the country has moved decidedly more to the left since woman gained the right to vote. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, just an observation……




    …If women ruled the world

    It would be a good thing

    No more war

    No more hate

    Women can fight

    But talking’s great

    Behind your back

    To your face

    They’d rather talk

    Than murder

    Not all men kill babies

    But a woman would rather

    Kill herself

    Than see a child suffer

    Women are carers

    They were born that way

    Like mother nature feeds the world

    A woman will think of her child first

    No more sons dying young

    Women bore sons for living

    No more war

    No more hate

    Women can fight

    But talking’s great

    Behind your back

    To your face

    They’d rather talk

    Than murder…

  • steve

    they have changed politics greatly with womens rights and the integral part of the voting process!

  • Steve the Cynic

    The experience of women in politics has shown that they are perfectly capable of messing things up as much as men. (And, Laurie, contrary to the nice sentiments of that song, I’ve known some awfully hateful women; they just act out their hatred differently from men.)

  • Joe Danko

    The question is: HAVE women changed American politics? Exhibit #1 – Sarah Palin. I think she used to be a woman. Politics seems to do something to the ladies but they don’t seem to have much of a reciprocal effect. Exhibit #2 – Hillary Clinton. The other side of the same coin. With a slightly different 2008 election the shoe would be on the other foot and Hillary would be roaring like a lion.

  • Khatti


    I think it’s worth mentioning that among the women who have made political contributions to Minnesota are Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon.